At 35-years-old, Michael Chandler knows his time at the top is limited, which is why the three-time Bellator lightweight champ is urgently seeking a rematch with Charles Oliveira.
Chandler was finished by Oliveira in the second round of their lightweight title bout at UFC 262, but the MMA veteran is still ranked in the top-five and believes there’s a case to be made for an immediate rematch.
“There’s a case to be out there, and I’ve seen a lot of people say maybe an immediate rematch. There’s a case to be made that I have one fight and beat any other guys in the top five, and I’m right there. I do believe I’m a big player at this point,” Chandler, who almost KO’d Oliveira in the first round, told MMA Junkie in a recent interview. “I do believe I’m world-class. I do believe I’m just as good as any of these guys. I do believe that Charles Oliveira beats anybody else in the top five. You look him against (Dustin) Poirier, you look at him against Conor (McGregor), you look at him against (Justin) Gaethje. I mean that’s a tough test for anybody, so losing to Charles Oliveira doesn’t make me a guy that shouldn’t be fighting for a world title anytime soon.”
Even if a rematch doesn’t come to fruition and Chandler has to beat another opponent, ‘Iron’ Mike is confident he will be fighting for the title again by the end of the year.
“At this point, I don’t put any limits on what could happen,” he said. “Immediate rematch could be a possibility, who knows? One fight could be a possibility, and then I’m fighting for the world title again by first quarter of next year. I’m not putting limits on anything. Obviously I have a limited time period. I’m not going to be here for a ton longer, so I want to get that title shot again before the end of next year. Either way, I’m willing to cut my teeth. I’m willing to re-build.”
With the Dustin Poirier-Conor McGregor trilogy looming and the winner expected to challenge Oliveira for the belt, it’s safe to assume that Chandler will have to prove himself against a top-five fighter before he gets another crack at the title.
Chandler is currently ranked #4 in the UFC lightweight rankings and is considered one of the most dangerous fighters in the division. He holds knockout victories over Dan Hooker, Benson Henderson, and Patricky Freire.