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Chandler picks Oliveira as 2021 Fighter of the Year: ‘We were wrong about him’

“Hats off to him. I think he would be my pick for Fighter of the Year.”

Michael Chandler and the rest of the MMA community were wrong about Charles Oliveira.

Chandler admits that he never imagined fighting Oliveira for the lightweight title let alone losing to the Brazilian at UFC 262.

But facts are facts: Oliveira not only TKO’d Chandler to win the belt but he then went on to submit Dustin Poirier in another come-from-behind stoppage victory at UFC 269.

These accomplishments combined with Oliveira holding multiple UFC records including the most finishes (18) and most submission wins (15) in the promotion make him ‘Iron Mike’s’ pick for 2021 Fighter of the Year.

“You can’t get in a championship fight, almost get knocked out and lose a 10-8 round to me and come back and meet me in the center of the octagon like he did and win the fight or have somewhat of a lopsided win against Dustin Poirier, a finish but dominant two rounds and not have the opinion of yourself being a champion or being of championship caliber,” Chandler, a former three-time Bellator champion, told MMA Fighting in a recent interview. “We were wrong about Charles Oliveira. I’ll be the first to admit it as well.”

“When I was talking about the top lightweights a year ago when I was coming into the UFC, I never would have thought that I would be challenging Charles Oliveira for the title or wanting to be chasing the gold and have it be around Charles Oliveira’s waist.”

“What Charles Oliveira has been able to do and he’s been in the UFC for so long and now to finally capture gold and then defend his gold against the guy everyone knew was the No. 1 contender in the world if not the best lightweight in the world in Dustin Poirier. It’s been a great year for him.

“I think that would probably be my pick for Fighter of the Year. Watching what Charles Oliveira has done this year. Claiming gold and then defending it against one of the best to ever do it at lightweight, one of the greatest lightweights of all time, will inevitably be a UFC Hall of Famer Dustin Poirier. Hats off to him. I think he would be my pick for Fighter of the Year.”

Oliveira is also on a ten-fight win streak in one of the most talent-stacked and toughest divisions in the UFC. The reigning lightweight champion is currently #5 in the UFC men’s pound-for-pound rankings.