Michael Chandler: I might slow the pace vs. Dustin Poirier at UFC 281 – but ‘don’t hold me to it’

Michael Chandler’s chaotic style has thrilled fans, but has also cost him at times.

In his four octagon appearances, Chandler (23-7 MMA, 2-2 UFC) has fought for the lightweight title and had a Fight of the Year contender against Justin Gaethje, as well as a Knockout of the Year contender against Tony Ferguson. He meets Dustin Poirier on Saturday’s UFC 281 main card in another fight that is expected to be a barnburner.

Lightweight contender Beneil Dariush critiqued Chandler for focusing too much on being entertaining, but Chandler thinks it’s worked for him more than it’s harmed him. However, the standout wrestler did allude to his intent on taking a more cautious approach against Poirier – he just can’t promise.

“I love what I do and I do think the way that I fight works out better more often than not,” Chandler told Yahoo Sports. “There’s times that I want to take my foot off the gas, be a little bit more of a veteran, and I think you might see that in this fight. Don’t hold me to it, but we’ll see what happens.

“I do like to start fast, and then maybe we’ll settle in a little bit. But we’ll definitely start fast as always.”

Chandler’s tendency to start fast has resulted in 13 first-round finishes and he plans on storming out of the gate against Poirier (28-7 MMA, 20-6 UFC), too.

“Dustin Poirier is not a crazy hard puzzle to solve. I don’t say that it’s not a hard fight, but he’s very brilliant with the basics,” Chandler said. “He’s very good at striking. He’s very good in the grappling and grappling defense department.

“There’s not a lot of places where you can exploit Dustin Poirier because he’s got a wealth of knowledge and a wealth of experience, but I’m going to go out there, start fast, get in his face fast, hopefully make him second guess himself pretty fast, mix it up – do exactly what I need to do in all areas of mixed martial arts, and go out there and get my hand raised. But I do think I get the finish.”

UFC 281 takes place Saturday at Madison Square Garden in New York. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPNews and early prelims on ESPN+.

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 281.

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Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie