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Michael Chandler: Islam Makhachev Is ‘Not Even Close’ To The Next Khabib

Michael Chandler previews his fight with Justin Gaethje, and reacts to Islam Makhachev's performance at UFC 267

Michael Chandler: Islam Makhachev Is ‘Not Even Close’ To The Next Khabib

Michael Chandler was unable to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov in the UFC like he had wanted for so long. He says that facing Khabib’s protege Islam Makhachev would not be anywhere near the same thing.

Chandler is fighting in what many look at as the number one contender’s fight for the lightweight division, when he faces Justin Gaethje at UFC 268.  However, others think that title shot should go to Makhachev, who is fresh off a big first round win over Dan Hooker at UFC 267. 

Michael said that he was wanting to get a fight with Khabib, so some thought maybe the idea of him fighting Islam instead would be a second best option. However he told media at the UFC 268 pre-fight presser that this is not the case at all.

“No, not even close. Are they similar? Absolutely. Are they brothers and teammates? Yes, absolutely. But what Khabib has accomplished, it wasn’t Khabib’s skillset, it was the mystique that surrounded Khabib’s accomplishments inside the sport. Undefeated, and making every superhuman guy inside the division look like a mere mortal,” Chandler said.

“So I wouldn’t say that (Makhachev) is the next best thing whatsoever. I do think that he is very good, obviously the way he dispatched Dan Hooker in the first round makes him solidify himself as a top guy. But when you start comparing those two, he’s just not there yet because this is his first time beating a guy inside the top ten, and Khabib did it for however many years before that.”

Michael Chandler Respects Justin Gaethje

Regardless of his thoughts on Islam Makhachev, Michael Chandler has his hands full with Justin Gaethje. He says that this is a big fight, and that there is no personal bad blood between he and Justin.

In fact, he went on to explain that he actually likes Gaethje, and respects him as a fighter. Win or lose, he hopes to shake Justin’s hand in the middle of the Octagon after Saturday night.

“I’ve been there before, I’ve lost fights in the past. I’ve learned some things from those losses, I’ve learned some things about how to come back from losses, and how to deal with losses, and I think truly that’s where your character is really tested, that’s where your mettle is really tested, in those moments of defeat where you can pull yourself back up. Now I get another opportunity against another top guy in the world, arguably the most exciting guy in mixed martial arts in general, against Justin Gaethje on Saturday night. So the stage is set for another phenomenal night,” Chandler said.

“I like the guy, I do. I’m a fan of the way he works, I’m a fan of what he brings to the competition, how he fights, the ferocity and the passion with which he fights with. He’s a promoter’s dream. He’s a training partner’s dream, I’m sure… I’ve got nothing but respect for him. Obviously when the cage door closes, we’re going to do out there and do a job, and that job is going to end with one of us getting our hands raised, and probably a handshake after, and nothing but mutual respect because what the guy’s accomplished in the sport is great.”

It is going to be interesting to see how Michael Chandler vs Justin Gaethje goes down. It seems to have the makings of a Fight of the Year contender written all over it.

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