Prior to his title fight against Charles Oliveira at UFC 280, there were many doubters of the skills of Makhachev, including by Chandler himself. The general perception was that while he was massively boosted with his association to Khabib Nurmagomedov, Islam had yet to earn a win over someone in the top five, so he may not be as good as he initially appeared.
Michael Chandler Stands By Islam Makhachev Assessment
In the end, Islam Makhachev would smash Charles Oliveira with relative ease, earning the belt with a second-round submission victory and silencing many of his doubters. However, Michael Chandler is still not backing down from his original perspective on the new champion.
Speaking in an interview with MMA on Point, Chandler explained that he was more than a bit impressed with the performance of Makhachev. However, he still stands by the idea that Makhachev had not faced anyone of note to that point, and still has just one elite level win on his resume.
“Islam is the real deal. I think when I was asked before about it, my answer, I stand behind it. Islam hadn’t fought anybody in that top five. And not even just that, it was also the fact that Charles had looked so dominant as well,” Chandler said. “Islam came out there and showed that he’s a force to be reckoned with on the feet, obviously a forced to be reckoned with on the ground, and we have a new champion, his name is Islam.”
While he may still feel that there is some work for Islam Makhachev to do to establish himself as the best in the world, Michael Chandler seems to have a healthy amount of respect for the new champ. If he can get past Dustin Poirier in their UFC 281 matchup, perhaps we will see these two face off in the Octagon soon.
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