Former Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler has explained why he wasn’t interested in fighting Islam Makhachev on short-notice.
Chandler, who has yet to make his UFC debut, is on standby on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi in the event that Khabib Nurmagomedov or Justin Gaethje is unable to compete in the UFC 254 headliner this weekend. Makhachev, meanwhile, was scheduled to fight Rafael dos Anjos on the card, but was forced off the bill when the UFC couldn’t find him a replacement opponent after a dos Anjos injury.
Given that Chandler was in Abu Dhabi preparing for a fight, some members of the MMA community questioned why he didn’t step in against Makhachev. Makhachev himself, a the No. 12-ranked UFC lightweight, and a training partner of the lightweight champ Nurmagomedov, was among them.
Speaking to MMA Junkie ahead of the event, Chandler explained his disinterest in that short-notice contest.
“The answer is no,” Chandler said. “I think there’s already been talks about the next move after this. The ship has sailed as far as – like I said, if Tony Ferguson did say, ‘Yeah OK, I’ll be your huckleberry Oct. 24,’ which if there’s anybody out there that might actually do something like that it would be Tony Ferguson, but at this point, I’m not changing courses. At this point I’m not taking a short notice fight against a guy, as I said, my words have been somewhat misconstrued and people are just hitting me up left and right.
“When I say people, I mean like Russians, Dagestanis, all these guys on the Khabib train – there’s millions and millions of them – they’re crushing me, calling me chicken and coward, but I didn’t sign this contract to go out there and fight anybody, especially on two weeks’ notice and change the opponent, change the plan and change everything. As of right now, I’m the backup for the world title fight, I’m keeping my body, my mind, my soul, my spirit ready for the next move.”
Do you understand this reasoning from Michael Chandler?