Prior to Makhachev claiming the title at UFC 280, Chandler (23-7 MMA, 2-2 UFC) criticized his resume and said he’s not even close to his mentor, Khabib Nurmagomedov. But after Makhachev (23-1 MMA, 12-1 UFC) dominated and finished Charles Oliveira to capture gold, Chandler has changed his tune.
“Islam is the real deal,” Chandler said in an interview with MMA On Point. “I think when I was asked before about it, my answer, I stand behind it. Islam hadn’t fought anybody in that top five and not necessarily just that, but it was the fact that Charles had looked so dominant, as well … Charles ran through, what, four guys? He fought me then he beat (Dustin) Poirier and beat (Justin) Gaethje.
“You’re talking the who’s who of the top three, top five guys and the impressiveness in the nature in which he was finishing guys, he just looked awesome. Islam came out there and showed that he was a force to be reckoned with on the feet, obviously a force to be reckoned with on the ground, and caught Charles in that choke, and we have a new champion, and his name is Islam.”
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Chandler, who fell short to Oliveira in his first shot at UFC gold in May 2021, is hoping to re-cement himself as the No. 1 contender with a win over Dustin Poirier on Nov. 12 at UFC 281.
“Islam proved that he was who he said he was,” Chandler said. “I stand corrected. He’s our champion, and I hope I can go out there on November 12th, can win my fight, and get that title shot soon.”