Michael Chandler’s first three UFC performances have delivered, even if he didn’t come out victorious each time.
Both of Chandler’s losses came at the hands of the top lightweights in world, current champion Charles Oliveira and top contender Justin Gaethje. Chandler’s former foes will compete to see who will wrap the UFC lightweight belt around their waist at UFC 274.
Chandler has been impressed with Oliveira’s ability to rely on his heart and confidence, recovering from being hurt when Chandler and Dustin Poirier put him in a tough spot. He’s seen Oliveira develop from being just one of the best submission artists on the planet to having hands that can be just as deadly.
At the same time, Chandler believes Gaethje brings a different level of intensity to a fight. Gaethje is extremely comfortable when things are tense or may seem grim; that’s the moment that Gaethje is the most dangerous.
It’s a bout that has plenty of implications for Chandler, who fights former interim UFC lightweight champion Tony Ferguson on the PPV portion of UFC 274. If Chandler can put together a flawless performance against “El Cucuy,” he could quickly find himself on the short list of lightweights deserving another crack at the throne.
As it stands now, Chandler’s plan is to defeat Ferguson, then head back into the audience and watch Oliveira and Gaethje from the front row and enjoy the show.
Here’s what he’s expecting from Oliveira and Gaethje:
Chandler Previews Oliveira vs Gaethje:
"UFC 274 is an awesome card top to bottom but, of course, it’s anchored by the main event at the very end. We got the lightweight title. We got Charles Oliveira, who has kind of been the comeback kid, and we got Justin Gaethje, the wild man.
You have the best grappler on the planet versus the most intense striker on the planet. Both guys are confident and both guys have great skill sets and both guys think they deserve to be champion. They are going to meet in the center of the Octagon, and we get to be the beneficiaries of a great fight that night.”
Chandler On Why Oliveira Could Win:
“Charles Oliveira has been in the game for a very very long time. We’ve seen him mature in the UFC Octagon. He had some ups and some downs, but over the last couple of years we’ve seen him really mature as a mixed martial artist.
“Obviously going out there and getting a title shot against me, he weathered the early storm, 10-8 round in the first round. He was able to get his wits back about him and then finish me in the second. Landed a clean shot right on the chin.
“We’ve seen him gain confidence with every single performance. He’s becoming a more dangerous guy and he’s the legitimate lightweight champion right now.”
Chandler On Why Gaethje Could Win:
“I think that Justin Gaethje has tasted title shots and now is tasting a title shot again and very likely could win the title because he fights exactly how he has since day one. He’s had a ton of criticism… but here he is after over a decade in the sport fighting at the top of the UFC lightweight division.
“He just needs to keep doing exactly what he’s been doing since the very beginning. Keep the pressure on Charles and we’ll see; time will tell if Charles Oliveira can handle the barrage and the fire fight that is a fight inside of the Octagon with Justin Gaethje. If he can’t, we see Justin Gaethje as our champion.”
UFC 274: Oliveira vs Gaethje took place on Saturday, May 7, 2022, live from a sold out Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses — and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!