Before even making his UFC debut, Michael Chandler will be serving as a backup for the lightweight title fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje. Before this fight, he explains what he thinks makes him better than both men.
When it was revealed that former three-time Bellator lightweight champion, Chandler would be signing with the UFC, fans were ecstatic to see him in the Octagon. However that excitement turned to mild confusion as this announcement was followed up by the fact that he would be a backup opponent for UFC 254’s main event title fight. This is not something that is done with new UFC signees, and is especially odd given how stacked the UFC’s 155lb division is. Nevertheless this is the plan, with him being sent to Fight Island in case anything happens.
Michael Chandler Explains Why He Is The Best
After getting this assignment as backup title challenger, Michael Chandler has been making his case as to why he is the deserving of this shot. He took things a step further recently, when speaking in a recent Instagram Live session. When asked what attributes that he thinks he has, which could beat Khabib Nurmagomedov, he did not downplay his skills in the least.
“I think I’m a better wrestler than he is,” Chandler said. (h/t MMA Junkie). “That’s not to disrespect his wrestling. I will say, he’s never, to my knowledge, fought a high-level Division 1 wrestler. I don’t think he’s fought anybody who is a Division-I wrestling All-American. There’s just a different breed out there. There’s a different breed between a high school wrestler who got into mixed martial arts and stopped doing wrestling many years ago and a guy like myself, who was a Division-I wrestling All-American.”
Chandler did not stop with his confidence there, either. He was asked about the other man he could be potentially facing at UFC 254, Justin Gaethje. In response to these questions, he was equally optimistic about what he offers that Gaethje lacks.
“I think I can match his cardio, I can go step for step,” Chandler continued. “I think I have more power than he does. I think I could string together the wrestling and the grappling and the striking better than he can, and it will be the best fight possibly in UFC history when me and Justin Gaethje step into the cage.”
These are some pretty bold proclamations from Michael Chandler, considering Khabib is considered potentially the best wrestler in the sport, and Gaethje is known for his unyielding power and epic cardio. However the former champ will perhaps have the opportunity to prove himself, but only if something happens to cause one of the two men to withdraw from UFC 254.