Morning Report: Michael Chandler makes his case for Conor McGregor: ‘Is there a bigger fight than me? I don’t think so’


Michael Chandler believes he’s the only logical fight for Conor McGregor’s return to MMA.

Since joining the UFC in 2020, Chandler has made no bones about his desire to fight McGregor inside the octagon. After his first win, over Dan Hooker at UFC 257, Chandler immediately put McGregor on notice, and after his knockout of Tony Ferguson at UFC 274, Chandler again called for a fight with “Notorious.” Neither of those callouts worked for Chandler, however, following his loss to Dustin Poirier at UFC 281, “Iron” Mike believes there is no better fight to make for either man.

“I do think that’s the fight to make,” Chandler told ESPN. “When you’re talking about Conor McGregor being on the other side of this two person engagement that we have to get into, Conor’s got every opportunity on the entire planet at his disposal. Does he need to come back? Absolutely not. Does he want to come back? We don’t know. That’s up to Conor. If he does want to come back, who in the heck else do you want to be standing on the other side of the octagon than me, right now, at this juncture?

“We’re the same size, we’re the same weight, I’m arguably — it’s hard, because I’m not a self promoter. I’m not going to sit here and say I’m the most exciting guy on the roster. I’m not going to sit here and say I am the guy who is a huge, huge, pay-per-view draw. It just doesn’t seem right, because I am me and I’m in mine own little microcosm of Michael Chandler’s little life in Nashville, TN. But when you look at it on the world stage, and you look at the response, and you look at the die hard, ‘I don’t care who he’s fighting, when he’s fighting, where he’s fighting, I am tuning in and buying the PPV for a Michael Chandler fight,’ those people are coming out of the wood work. It’s crazy the amount of buzz that is on me, my fight style, my fights, every single time. The UFC knows it, I think Conor knows it, Conor’s team knows it, the whole world of MMA knows it.

“So if he comes back, when he comes back, I’m going to take a little bit of time off to heal up and make sure I take care of my family, take care of my body. I think the timeline works out really, really well, whenever he wants to come back. And tell me, who’s a bigger draw or a bigger fight than me and Conor right now? The only thing is, I’m definitely not an easy fight. If you look at risk vs. reward of who’s a big name but also, ‘I need to go out there and smash somebody,’ there’s some easier fights than me. But is there a bigger fight than me? I don’t think so. I really don’t.”

The primary blocker for a Chandler-McGregor fight, aside from McGregor’s general mercurial nature, appears to be one of time. McGregor has been out of action since breaking his leg against Dustin Poirier in July of 2021, and per Dana White, McGregor left the USADA testing pool and now will require at least six months before he’s eligible to compete again. That is, if McGregor wants to compete again at all. After selling his majority stake in Proper 12, McGregor is financially set, and while he has repeatedly declared his intention to return, “Notorious” remains on the sidelines. But Chandler doesn’t believe he’s staying there.

“I think Conor’s different than a lot of people think he is,” Chandler said. “People think just because he’s got a couple hundred million in the bank and he lives this crazy, lavish lifestyle, that he’s not still a competitor at heart who loves competition and loves to see other people who love competition. He’s a purist at heart and I think he sees the way that I live my life, the way that I live this sport, the way that I train, the things that I stand for, the way that I really wear my heart on my sleeve, we’ve got a different accent, but we’re saying a lot of the same things. He might be a little bit more braggadocious, but we’re saying the same things in a different way, so I think he respects that. So I think there’s so many ways to look at this and say at this point, it would be somewhat of a letdown and a disappointment if it never happened.”

Of course, Chandler is far from the only person to have called out McGregor. Seemingly every fighter from 145 pounds to 170 pounds has mentioned the former two division champion at one point or another, and very few fighters would pass up the opportunity to face the biggest star in the sport, if offered. Chandler acknowledges that the financial incentives play a part in his call out, but he says it’s more than just the money, it’s creating the biggest spectacle possible, and he believes that between the two of them, they can put on something remarkable.

“People will say I’m chasing the Red Panty Night, and I’m chasing the payday, and yes, that’s a part of it, it’s always going to be a part of the conversation that people talk about when you’re fighting Conor McGregor, but I want battlegrounds of epic proportions,” Chandler said. “I want the brightest lights. I want the biggest platforms. I want to go out there on the verge of a heart attack because the moment is so big. And what is bigger than fighting Conor McGregor? And at this point, him coming back, what is bigger than Conor McGregor stepping into the octagon with, I’ve got to be the most electrifying man in the UFC right now? … It’s the biggest fight to make, it’s the most PPV sales that can be made right now, at this current juncture, in the entire world of MMA, I think Conor knows it, I think the UFC knows it, and I think it’s going to happen International Fight Week of 2023.”


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Thanks for reading! See y’all tomorrow.


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