One-time UFC lightweight title challenger, Michael Chandler believes past foe, current lightweight kingpin, Charles Oliveira, will have the edge against another former foe and past interim champion, Justin Gaethje – with the pair expected to potentially fight next.
Chandler, who last featured opposite Gaethje, suffered a unanimous decision loss to the Arizona native at UFC 268 – turning in a Fight of the Year contender against the former interim champion.
The loss came as Chandler’s second straight under the promotion’s banner, after he had unsuccessfully attempted to clinch the vacant lightweight title back in May at UFC 262, suffering a second round knockout defeat against the aforenoted, Oliveira.
Chandler had been propelled to the title tilt following a successful Octagon debut against Dan Hooker last January, stopping the Auckland native with a massive first round knockout in their UFC 257 co-main event slot on ‘Fight Island’.
Off the back of Gaethje’s unanimous judging win over Sanford MMA staple, Chandler, the ONX Labs trainee and Trevor Wittman student had earned his shot at lightweight gold once again. And in tandem with Oliveira’s first title defense against common-opponent, Dustin Poirier at UFC 269 in December – the pair appear to be on a collision course this year.
Whilst not official, Gaethje’s manager, Ali Abdelaziz has suggested that his client may challenge Oliveira as soon as April or May of this year, with UFC 274 notably targeted to take place in Oliveira’s native Brazil at the Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro.
“I think (Charles) Oliveira might win that fight (against Justin Gaethje), man,” Michael Chandler told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. “I’m telling you, there has been a maturation process that we’ve watched (with Charles Oliveira). There’s been a – you know, we look at Charles Oliveira, he’s had a couple ups, a lot more downs than people. A lot of losses, you know, a lot of those at 145lbs, missed weight, given up on himself, quitting on himself has been one of his things.”
“We saw that against me, he didn’t give up on himself,” Michael Chandler explained. “We saw that against Dustin (Poirier), he kept the pressure on him, finished him. I think (Justin) Gaethje – the best way Gaethje wins that fight is to go out there and ‘Gaethje’ him, get into a brawl. … I do think Oliveira’s gonna have a harder time taking him down than he thinks. But I do think Oliveira might have the edge in that fight.”
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