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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Matt Erickson and Ken Hathaway

Michael Chandler plans to ‘bludgeon’ Conor McGregor, regardless of date, location or weight class

LAS VEGAS – Michael Chandler has been around Conor McGregor enough in recent days that he thinks he’s starting to figure him out.

Former UFC two-division champion McGregor (22-6 MMA, 10-4 UFC) and former Bellator lightweight champ Michael Chandler (23-8 MMA, 2-3 UFC) are set to coach the upcoming Season 31 of “The Ultimate Fighter.” They’re currently filming the show in Las Vegas and attended UFC 285 on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena.

A fight hasn’t been put on the books yet, but the “TUF” coaches traditionally fight at the end of the season. One of the issues so far is the UFC stipulation that a fighter be in the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) drug testing pool for at least six months before a fight. McGregor has been inactive since a broken leg in a July 2021 trilogy loss to Dustin Poirier and not in the testing pool.

Chandler said that’s one of the things messing with a timeline.

“I just asked my management to start putting pressure and figure out (when McGregor will be in the pool),” Chandler said backstage at UFC 285. “Right now, we’re at March (4). If we want to fight in September, he’s got to hop in the (drug testing) pool. That’s just the simple fact of the matter.

“We’ll see. I could (not) care less, man. I don’t care what he weighs, what he’s doing. How long he’s in the USADA pool does not matter to me. It’s another man with two arms and two legs and I’ve been doing this for over a decade, so, I’m excited to go out there and compete against him. But ultimately, rules are rules and we’ve got to figure out how to get around the red tape and all and get him in the pool and get him tested and all that kind of stuff.

Along with questions about just when the fight will take place, a weight class hasn’t been nailed down, either. And then there’s the matter of where it will take place.

McGregor won UFC titles at featherweight and lightweight and also has fought at welterweight. Chandler is a career lightweight, but said he’s open to fighting at a higher weight.

And McGregor’s involvement as the UFC’s biggest all-time draw could warrant a venue bigger than someplace like T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas – another important point that hasn’t been figured out.

“At this point, I don’t think it’s going to be at 155,” Chandler said. “Conor’s expressed it’s going to be at 170. I would love it at 170. I’ll fight him at 185. I’ll fight him at whatever weight class we want to fight at. I could (not) care less. I just want to fight the man. … He was talking about 185 and I called his bluff. I think he doesn’t think I’m as heavy and as dense as I actually am. I’m sitting here at 191 pounds, so I’ll fight at 185. I’ll fight a 170. If (UFC president) Dana (White) steps in – and I’ve heard him talk about 155 – if Dana steps in and gets his way, possibly it’s 155. I could (not) care less. I am a guy who showed up in the UFC in September 2020 with my work boots on, and I’ve said yes to every single opportunity. I’ve said yes at every single step of the way.

“They want to do it at 170. I think that’s a nice little sweet spot. This show (airing) ends in August, so it would make a lot of sense for us to fight in September. I hope it’s September. And I think this fight is too big to do T-Mobile Arena. I think we sell out Allegiant Stadium (in Las Vegas) or Dallas Cowboys Stadium.

“There’s been mentions of it. I think when you talk, you’re never doing a stadium if it isn’t Conor McGregor right now. And then you look at a guy who can come in and build the intrigue, put butts in seats, make people feel something. Name a guy who’s got more momentum in the entire UFC than than me. And now we’re doing ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ – 12 episodes over the entire summer to build the intrigue, to build the animosity, to build this rivalry – and it’s genuine. You guys know me. I’m a pretty nice, even-keeled guy. I don’t really like Conor McGregor that much, it turns out.

“I’ve got a ton of respect for him. But he and I, I don’t think see eye to eye in a lot of ways, and that’s a lot of competitive chirp. But ultimately, I passed Allegiant Stadium today and I told my wife, ‘Hey, we should fight there.’ There’s no reason we should be fighting in T-Mobile Arena because we have the ability and the capacity to do that. Dallas Cowboy Stadium: One of the biggest shows in in mixed martial arts history. I think it happens.”

As for the fight itself, regardless of when or where or what weight class, Chandler thinks McGregor’s recent prediction that he’ll “slice through” Chandler is misguided.

“That’s exactly who we want – the biggest combat sports star and icon that we have ever seen thinking he’s going to come back and slice through somebody,” Chandler said. “That’s exactly what we want. That gains intrigue. It builds the momentum, it builds the mystique of who he is and us putting butts in seats. That’s exactly what we want. I can tell you this: It’s definitely not going to happen. I can tell you this: I see it going a much different way.

“I think I’ve seen enough of Conor over the last couple weeks to know that I am going to not just slice through him, but bludgeon him with both of these hands and do whatever I want, both standing or on the ground, and finish him by the second round. That’s my ‘Mystic (Mac)’, my prediction, and I stand behind it.

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 285.

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