Before he even made it to the UFC, Michael Chandler had a legendary career within mixed martial arts. Despite not winning the title at UFC 262, he says that he is happy with how his career has gone.
Few people make the type of impact upon their UFC debut that Chandler did. The former Bellator lightweight champ signed with the promotion and was immediately slated as a backup for a title fight, so there was intrigue to see how he would do.
So say he was successful was an understatement, as he knocked out the durable Dan Hooker in the first round, setting him up to face Charles Oliveira for the vacant title. While he ended up losing that bout in the second round, he came extremely close to winning in the first, even scoring a 10-8 on two judge’s scorecards.
Not Needing UFC Gold
It is hard to deny that Michael Chandler felt like he needed to sign with the UFC to legitimize his career as a mixed martial artist. However just because he did not win UFC gold does not mean that he feels like his career is incomplete.
Speaking in an interview days after losing at UFC 262, Michael explained that even if he’d never ends up with the UFC title, he will be happy with how his career has gone. He knows that there is no way that anybody can claim he is not elite, and that is enough for him.
“I think you would be surprised to know that I don’t need the world title to be happy with my career, truthfully. Just with the way that my certain career has gone,” Chandler explained.
“I think that there are a lot of guys who would sit here and say no I have to win the UFC title or else I’m going to have regrets, but for me being outside the UFC for so long, being regarded as one of the top guys for so long, and yet I wasn’t in the UFC, there were so many people who were saying ‘Okay if you think you’re that good, you need to come to the UFC and prove it.’
“Coming to the UFC and knocking out Dan Hooker, and now fighting Charles Oliveira, did I lose? Yes I lost, but I lost in a world title fight and I also had him on the ropes and almost finished him, and had a 10-8 first round. So if you want to say that I’m not up there with the best of them, you’re kind of kidding yourself,” Chandler continued.
“When it comes to talent and when it comes to the accolades, I think I’m right there with those guys. The biggest thing that I would ever regret it, would have been never testing free agency, and never coming to the UFC whatsoever. That’s why I made the decision.”
What’s Next For Michael Chandler?
Although he lost at UFC 262, Michael Chandler is far from done with the top of the lightweight division. In fact, he is already expressed desire to get back into a title fight within 12 months.
The first step towards this, would be facing another top five opponent. That is precisely what he is interested in doing, and he is willing to take on anybody in that top five space, sometime this winter.
“I think that timeline is where I would like to be, November earliest, December, maybe even January. I’m not getting any younger obviously, but I still feel like I’m 25 years old. My body, athleticism, speed, power, all of that feels phenomenal. I feel like I can do this for a long time,” Chandler said.
“No matter what, I’ll step inside the cage with the top five guy next fight, by the end of the year. That will put me right back in the number one contender spot, or title eliminator type of scenario…
“I still got (Justin) Gaethje, (Dustin) Poirier, (Tony) Ferguson, Beneil Dariush, Conor (McGregor), those are all awesome fights. Those could be my next four or five fights, those are all bangers,” Chandler added.
“I think they all make sense to be honest. Anybody who’s ranked ahead of me, I guess essentially Conor is the only guy who’s behind of me inside the top five, But anybody who’s in that one, too, three position behind Charles. Obviously Gaethje’s The name that has been thrown around a thousand times since I signed, and now that I have a loss in the UFC maybe people will actually say yes to fight me.”
Who would you like to see Michael Chandler fight next? Do you think he will ever be able to win UFC gold?