Former Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler is “extremely confident” he could beat UFC champ Khabib Nurmagomedov, as it’s a fight he’s been preparing for for years.
Chandler just made the jump from Bellator to the UFC, and has yet to make his debut in the Octagon. However, he’s had his eye on Nurmagomedov, who he forecasted as a future champion, for a long time.
“Extremely confident,” Chandler told MMA Fighting about beating Nurmagomedov. “Because I don’t care if it’s day 1 or day 1,000, I’ve put in my 10,000 hours in this sport and I’ve been focusing on beating Khabib since he got in the UFC. I’ve been studying him and I knew he was going to become champion four fights before he actually became champion. He’s got the champion’s mindset, he’s got the physical attributes and he’s got a style that has looked about as unbeatable as anyone we’ve ever seen in the UFC.
“I’ve been training to fight Khabib for six years, eight years. Now, if the opportunity presents itself, that comes to fruition. I don’t care if it’s midnight the night before, someone gets hurt or someone gets sick, I’m going to be ready to step in. Whether it’s five weeks’ notice, five hours’ notice or five minutes’ notice.”
Nurmagomedov is set to defend the UFC lightweight title against Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 later this month, and Chandler has been pegged as the replacement fighter for the bout, should either man fail to make it to the cage.
While the former Bellator champion understandably sees a fight with the unbeaten Nurmagomedov as preferable, he’d also welcome a fight with Gaethje, and he’s confident he’d win that one too.
“I think I’m a bad matchup for either of them,” Chandler said. “What you need to beat Gaethje, you’ve got to keep your hands up but fight him, also. You’ve got to wear him down like Eddie [Alvarez] did and you eventually get the TKO. If you don’t eventually get the TKO, you’ve got to land more shots than he lands. For me, that’s the game plan against Justin Gaethje.
“If you can lure him into a dog fight, I not only think I win that ‘Fight of the Year’ but that’s just a fight that excites me.”
Do you think Michael Chandler will capture gold in the UFC?