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10 May, 2021 18:54

‘I want to see Conor come back’: UFC lightweight title hopeful Chandler wants future championship tilt with McGregor

‘I want to see Conor come back’: UFC lightweight title hopeful Chandler wants future championship tilt with McGregor

Ahead his upcoming UFC title fight against Charles Oliveira in what will be just his second fight for the promotion, Michael Chandler is forecasting a war with the winner of the rematch between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirer.

Chandler, 35, impressed on his UFC debut earlier this year, defeating top contender Dan Hooker via strikes inside the first round on 'Fight Island' in January, and the American slugger will look to assert himself even further in the UFC's lightweight fold when he takes on Oliveira this weekend in a fight which will crown the company's successor to Khabib Nurmagomedov in the 155lbs division. 

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The winner of the UFC 262 main event will secure a significant prize in the UFC's lightweight strap - but also line themselves up for a highly lucrative title defence against the victor of July's third fight between McGregor and Poirier, and speaking to TMZ Sports Chandler said that each of the two bring some serious skills to the cage.

"The great thing is, either of them. They’re #1 & #1A in my book," Chandler said.

"Whoever wins that fight. I will be in attendance in the front row there in Vegas on July 10. I’ll be watching, keenly, to see who my next opponent is.

"Dustin Poirier is a heck of a competitor, consummate professional, great dude inside the octagon and outside it.

"I want to see Conor come back, man. There’s nothing better than when a guy as big as Conor McGregor, falls short, loses and is able to pull himself back and win. It’s a huge story, it’s a huge storyline."

Both McGregor and Poirier would likely pose some serious problems to the winner of this weekend's showdown - but Chandler says that he can't escape the temptation of securing his own 'red panty night' later this year.

"Obviously, the athlete in me wants to fight the winner of [Poirier vs. McGregor], the businessman in me wants to fight Conor of course, but all of it hinges upon me having a phenomenal performance on May 15, so we go there, take care of business, then go to Vegas on July 10 and see who my next opponent’s going to be," said Chandler.

Of course, the current landscape of the UFC is somewhat dictated not just by winning a world title but by how many weight divisions in which this can be achieved. His potential rival McGregor was the first to secure such a feat simultaneously, and he has since been followed by the likes of Daniel Cormier and Amada Nunes. 

It is a goal which Chandler believes is achievable - but not before he makes an indelible imprint on the lightweight division.

"Absolutely [I’d be interested in pursuing a second title]. But thinking about a welterweight title would be reserved for a situation where I’d win the [lightweight] title then defend it at least once, if not twice," Chandler explained.

"I want to come into this lightweight division and solidify myself as the top guy, as the premier lightweight. Dismantling number five or six [Hooker] was great, now number three in Charles Oliveira and then my first title defense against Conor or Poirier. Then we can look at it.

"There’s no secret, [welterweight champion] Kamaru Usman’s a friend of mine, the dude’s an absolute savage, he’s looked unbeatable, he really has lapped the division.

"And that’s just a testament to him and his hard work. I’ve been around him, I’ve trained with him. Not only is he a phenomenal fighter, but he does things right, he lives the life of a champion and his performances show that."

At 5ft 8in tall, Chandler admits he would be dwarfed by much of the welterweight competition but he says he is sure that there is a range of fights at 170lbs which he sees as interesting challenges.

"I would not be a legitimate size in the welterweight division, but there’s definitely some fights at welterweight that I would enjoy. Jorge Masvidal is arguably a 155lber, Nate Diaz," he said.

"Kamaru Usman, I’ve trained with him, we’ve sparred, he’s not a huge 170lber. And I get up to over 190lbs, so I wouldn’t be the smallest welterweight in the division. It’s something I’m interested in, but we’ll cross that bridge when I win this title and defend it a couple of times."

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As Chandler says, first things first. In Oliveira, he faces a fighter who has recorded the most submission victories in UFC history, as well as someone in the midst of an eight-fight win streak in the talent-rich UFC lightweight division - and Chandler says that he is acutely aware of the dangers which will await him in the cage this weekend.

"Charles Olivera has cut his teeth in this UFC lightweight division over the last couple of years. 8-0 in his last 8 fights. [He has the] most submission wins in UFC history. He’s dangerous every single place," Chandler said.

"But then you also got the outsider, the dark horse, the newcomer in myself. I’m going to be carrying that American Flag, I come to fight, I’m going to keep you on the edge of your seat. You don’t know what’s going to happen whenever I’m inside that Octagon.

"I’ve never been in a boring fight win, lose or draw. So UFC 262 will be top-notch entertainment for MMA fans."