With his next matchup confirmed after months of speculation, Michael Chandler has indicated that a fight with Dustin Poirier is something he’s wanted from the moment he joined the UFC.
The 36-year-old is set to meet the former UFC interim lightweight champion at UFC 281 in November, which will be held at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The matchup had been rumored in the months since Chandler knocked out Tony Ferguson at UFC 274, but the UFC only recently made the bout official.
Speaking with Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour, “Iron” admitted that he couldn’t account for why it took so long for the fight to finally come together.
“I actually don’t know,” Chandler explained. “And I don’t know if you’ve spoken to Dustin, I really don’t know. I think we’ve been talking about this fight, all of us have been talking about this fight. It seemed like the fight to make, honestly it’s a fight that I wanted since the beginning of me coming in and signing with the UFC.
“But obviously it has made a lot of sense over the last couple months, and then obviously there’s been a little bit of back and forth. It finally got announced, and here we are.”
Chandler Prepared To Test Himself Against Poirier
Although Chandler is 2-2 since joining the UFC in 2021, the former Bellator champion has only faced the promotion’s top lightweight competition during that time.
An impressive debut against Dan Hooker immediately put Chandler in a fight for the vacant lightweight title against Charles Oliveira. A loss in that bout did nothing to halt his momentum, as “Iron” went to war with Justin Gaethje at UFC 268 before stopping Ferguson earlier this year.
Poirier is one of the only top lightweights Chandler has yet to meet in the UFC, but the 36-year-old says “The Diamond” was on his radar from the moment he joined the promotion.
“I wanted to come in – and I said it at the very beginning – I wanted to fight the toughest guys right away. Dusin Poirier fit that bill, Tony Ferguson fit that bill. Those were the two guys that we were really trying to line ourselves up against when I first came in. And it ended up being Dan Hooker, and now here we are almost two years later and I’ve now just fought Tony Ferguson, and now I’m gonna fight Dustin Poirier.
“So, got a ton of respect for him. He’s tough, and anybody who knows me or has followed my career knows those are my favorite kind of guys to fight. I want to go out there and test myself against the toughest guys in the world. And that’s why I signed with the UFC and here we are.”
The matchup with Chandler will be Poirier’s first fight of 2022. The 33-year-old was on a 3-fight winning streak that included consecutive victories over Conor McGregor before losing via submission to Charles Oliveira in a bid for the lightweight title at UFC 269.
In addition to the lightweight bout between Chandler and Poirier, UFC 281 is headlined by a pair of title fights. Carla Esparza will defend her strawweight title against Zhang Weili in the co-main event, while the main event features former kickboxing rivals Israel Adesanya and Alex Pereira competing for the middleweight belt.
This story originally appeared on MMANews.com. Please provide transcription credit with a link to this article if you use any of these quotes.