Former Bellator lightweight champion Michael "Iron" Chandler has wasted little time in shaking things up since he crossed promotions and arrived in the UFC earlier in 2021.
The American fighter bullied a typically-game Dan Hooker in his first appearance inside the Octagon at UFC 257 on January 24, winning via TKO finish in the very first round. The pressure and power that Chandler was able to generate on the feet was just too much for his Kiwi opponent, who went to sleep at the point of first contact.
Now, in a recent interview, Chandler has claimed that he will "easily" win the lightweight championship vacated by Khabib "The Eagle" Nurmagomedov, who Chandler calls "the greatest of all time."
"Iron" has also referred to the "Notorious" Conor McGregor as "the biggest icon" in MMA, but made it clear that he'd happily take Notorious' proposed new belt from him, too, were the two combatants ever to square off inside the Octagon.
Chandler is booked to face Brazilian jiujitsu expert and long-time division contender Charles Oliveira at UFC 262 on May 16 for Khabib's recently vacated lightweight belt.
In truth, the American already has plenty on his plate with Oliviera, but a fight vs "Notorious" is guaranteed to be a big payday for the long-time MMA combatant, so who can blame him for looking ahead.
McGregor is, of course, scheduled to fight Dustin "Diamond" Poirier for the third time at UFC 264 on July 10, which will be the final bout of their trilogy contest.
McGregor claimed a routine first-round KO win over Poirier back at UFC 178 in September 2014.
The American returned the favour earlier this year at UFC 257, however. "Diamond" kicked the Irishman to a standstill and secured a KO victory in the second round to tie the two lightweights at one win apiece.
Chandler complimented McGregor's idea of designing his own belt to wear to the ring for the trilogy showdown with Poirier.
In an interview with Helen Yee, Chandler stated: “I love it. It's Conor being Conor. He's the biggest combat sports icon on the planet."
Chandler continued: "The greatest of all time thus far Khabib Nurmagomedov retiring opens the door to a crazy, big, exciting lightweight division that I can easily put my name at the top of and then start defending that belt.
"I don't think [the new belt] is going to happen. I think it's a cool idea and the prospect of him beating Dustin Poirier and me fighting him – putting my belt on the line in November, December time. He could put the Conor McGregor belt on the line. I'd love a paddock rare belt, or whatever he said, sitting on my mantel to add to my collection.
"I want to share the Octagon with Conor McGregor sooner or later, eventually, before I retire. How many fights it will take, we'll see?”
UFC president Dana White will surely have his fingers and toes crossed for a McGregor victory over Poirier, and a Chandler win vs Oliviera during the summer. A fight between Chandler and McGregor towards the end of the year would likely do huge figures at the box office, but it's unlikely to happen anytime soon should either of the two combatants lose their next fight.News Now - Sport News