Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Chandler: ‘I’d Love To Stop The Makhachev Hype Train’

UFC lightweight Michael Chandler wants to be the man to stop fellow top-five contender Islam Makhachev‘s “hype train” in its tracks.

Later this month, Charles Oliveira will have the opportunity to do exactly that. The Brazilian, who held the 155-pound gold before a weight miss prior to UFC 274 saw him stripped, is looking to re-establish himself as the undisputed king of the lightweights.

If he’s to accomplish that, Oliveira will have to stall the charge and break the 10-fight win streak of rising Dagestani Makhachev. The pair will collide for all the marbles in the UFC 280 headliner, set for Abu Dhabi on October 22.

But while Makhachev has a stiff test in front of him, he recently had eyes on comments made by one-time UFC title challenger Chandler. The pair went back and forth over their strength of schedule, which has been the main tool used by the Russian’s detractors.

Having doubted the perceived dominance and talent that many place on Makhachev, which has included AKA coach Javier Mendez branding him the most well-rounded lightweight of all time, Chandler wouldn’t mind being the one to prove the Dagestani’s circle wrong.

Chandler Happy To Face Oliveira Or Makhachev For The Title

During a recent interview with MMA Junkie at the Kill Cliff FC facility, Chandler addressed his title ambitions, which he firmly reignited with a brutal knockout victory over Tony Ferguson earlier this year.

Despite being 2-2 under the UFC banner, the former three-time Bellator titleholder has only fought the best inside the Octagon, with his two defeats coming at the hands of Oliveira and Justin Gaethje.

That trend is set to continue later this year when Chandler shares the Octagon with #2-ranked contender Dustin Poirier at UFC 281. With a victory at Madison Square Garden on November 12, “iron” is hoping to set up a collision with the lightweight champ, whoever that may be post-October 22.

“Man, it’s tough. For me, (in terms of) who I’d rather face, I think it’s 50/50,” Chandler said. “I think if it’s Charles, I would love to be able to get the rematch. I was so close to winning the title against Charles. We have tape on each other, we have highlight reels of each other fighting each other. Both of us had our highs and lows in that fight.

“I would also love to — if Islam does beat Charles — I would love to be the guy who stops the hype train of Islam, if he does win. But the UFC lightweight division has a champion, and his name is Charles Oliveira… I do think Charles has the upper hand, in my opinion,” Chandler added. “But Islam does have the tools to win. We’ll see what happens on October 22.”

Unlike most, Chandler hasn’t hesitated to call Makhachev out. That unique mindset is something even Oliveira can’t be said to have. Despite preparing to face the Dagestan native this month, the Brazilian was open about his desire to avoid a date in the cage with Makhachev.

With that, Chandler clearly sees areas he can exploit in the 30-year-old’s game. But before looking ahead to that, the veteran has business to attended to against new rival Poirier. Should he send “The Diamond” on a two-fight skid, Chandler could find himself opposite a two-time champion in Oliveira or a first-time titleholder in Makhachev.

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