Former Bellator champion and number five-ranked lightweight Michael Chandler has been known for being in memorable barnburners. His last two fights at Madison Square Garden against Justin Gaethje and Dustin Poirier, respectively, were both touted by fans.
For fans, such an approach to fighting is a treat. But from a competitor’s perspective like that of UFC veteran Matt Brown, Chandler is in need of a strategy overhaul.
“He needs to fix his strategy,” Brown said on MMA Fighting’s The Fighter vs. The Writer. “In my particular style, that’s just how I fight. That’s how I beat guys. I go in, I wear them out, I make it a tough fight, kind of a Dustin Poirier kind of thing. We go in, we make it dirty, make it grimy, and guys get worn out and overwhelmed by it.
“Now Michael Chandler, we get the feeling — at least me and you and the people watching — he doesn’t have to do that. He is fighting for the fans. There’s basically two different ways to fight. Do you want to fight for the fans or do you want to fight for yourself and win?”
To drive his point home, “The Immortal” mentioned the late Arturo Gatti and Floyd Mayweather, two legendary names in boxing who are polar opposites in terms of their fighting style.
“Gatti never developed those skills. That’s sort of the difference with Gatti and Chandler. I think Chandler, as much of a compliment as it is to be compared to Arturo Gatti, [with] Chandler we see the ability to go out there and win titles.
“I think most of us assume, we don’t know for sure, but we assume he probably could have beaten Dustin Poirier with a smart strategy. But he’s playing Dustin Poirier’s strategy. He’s playing Justin Gaethje’s strategy when he does that.
“When he goes out there and wings it like that. Does that mean you’re going to lose every time? No, because it works for him a lot of times too, but what you’re doing is you’re playing those guys’ game. Take them out of their game if you have the ability to do that.
“A lot of guys don’t have the ability to do that. There’s guys that’s kind of what they’re stuck with.”
Brown says Chandler could very much take the Floyd Mayweather approach if he chooses to.
“What do we remember Gatti for? The wars. What do we remember Mayweather for? Not any wars. We remember him for piecing people up. That’s my whole criticism here.
“Not to knock on Michael Chandler, love the dude and love his style and love everything about him. It’s his career, he can do whatever he wants. But what I see is the ability for him to go out there and be that dominant champion, and he simply chooses not to.
“He chooses to be Arturo Gatti when he could be Floyd Mayweather. Whether that’s right or wrong, we’ll have to see if he ever changes up his style, but that’s what it seems to me is his own choice.”
Chandler’s approach to fighting seems to pay off for him at the moment. Four of his five UFC fights have earned him post-fight bonuses, including Fight of the Night for the Gaethje and Poirier bouts.