Michael Chandler insists he knows exactly what he has to do to beat Charles Oliveira as the pair prepare to meet at the peak of their powers.
Chandler, the former Bellator champion, fights 'Do Bronx' Oliveira for the vacant UFC lightweight title in the main event Saturday, following Khabib Nurmagomedov's retirement from mixed martial arts.
'Iron Mike' sent shockwaves reverberating around the UFC after he knocked Dan Hooker out cold at UFC 257 on January 24.
Although it was a dominant victory, some, including #9-ranked UFC lightweight Beneil Dariush, believe Chandler's title shot is absurd given the availability of other top contenders such as Justin Gaethje.
#4-ranked lightweight Chandler, however, isn't too bothered about the critics. In fact, he firmly believes he deserves to be fighting for the vacant 155lbs belt.
"I have been a guy that’s said yes a lot when a lot of guys have said no," Chandler said to MMA Fighting. "Pretty much everybody in the top five has said no to a fight against me except for Dan Hooker and I tip my hat and commend him for taking that fight Jan. 23. He’s a heck of a competitor, I know he’ll be back but I was glad to get the knockout that night.
"With Conor [McGregor] and [Dustin] Poirier doing their trilogy, we weren’t really sure where Justin Gaethje stood. I think it makes a lot of sense. Charles Oliveira as a competitor, he’s as tough as they come."
Chandler (22-5) is in a confident mood ahead of the biggest fight of his career to date.
The NCAA Division I All-American has spent the past few weeks training with the likes of Anthony 'Rumble' Johnson, Derek Brunson and Rory MacDonald at Sanford MMA.
He is currently riding a three-fight winning streak which includes a first-round KO of former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson.
It is Chandler's toughest test to date but one the likeable American is ready to grasp with both hands.
"So far the fans have only seen two and a half minutes of my performance. Wait till you see round 2, round 3, round 4 and round 5," he added. "I’ve been in those championship rounds. I’ve been in 25 minute wars. I’ve been in the deep, deep waters with championship level, high level calibre guys. Two former UFC champions - Eddie Alvarez, Benson Henderson. Guys that held belts in the UFC. I’ve been in knockdown, drag out wars. I’ve won Fight of the Year, numerous times. I thrive on that.
"If Charles Oliveira takes his foot off the gas at all, chances are he’s going to get finished. I don’t know how long he’s going to be able to keep his foot on the gas. I know I’m going to keep my foot on the gas for 25 minutes."
Known for his explosive style, the 5ft 8 in Chandler believes aggression and mobility will be his main weapons against the 5 ft 10 in Brazilian.
However, he also named the crowd as one of the key factors for the title fight.
He continued: "I walk out into a packed arena in Houston, Texas, 19,000 red, white and blue-blooded Americans chanting my name, rooting for me. I go out there and I get in Charles Oliveira’s face immediately and he will realize and feel from the first exchange, from the pressure I put on him, he will immediately start to second guess himself.
"He will immediately start to overreact. He will immediately start to worry about his legs. I’ll go to his head. I’m going to go to his legs. I’m going to go to his body. I’m going to mix it up. A punch is going to land, he’s going to get his clock cleaned.
"He’s going to wake up to the bright lights of me standing on top the cage about to get my hand raised and UFC gold around my waist. That’s how it’s going to go. I predict it’s going to be in the first round. Then I predict a phenomenal end to 2021 and then we’re going to carry this baby on for a couple of years."News Now - Sport News