Breaking down Conor McGregor vs. Michael Chandler

After beating Tony Ferguson at UFC 274 last May, Michael Chandler thought it might be a misjudgment for the UFC to book a fight with him against Conor McGregor.

Instead, a coaching opportunity with The Ultimate Fighter helped set the pieces in motion for a megafight later that year.

“If Hunter Campbell and Dana White have a brief misjudgment and give someone else the title shot, I’ve got a guy on my mind,” yelled Chandler after winning in Phoenix last spring. “Conor McGregor, you have to come back and fight someone. I’m the most entertaining lightweight on the planet.

“I want you at your greatest, I want you at your worst, and I want you at your best. You and me at 170 this summer, this fall, this winter.

Chandler’s request has been granted as the duo will train against each other on the reality show The Ultimate Fighter, which will air on ESPN and ESPN+ from May 30 to August 15, UFC President Dana White announced on social media Saturday known. After the season, the coaches will likely fight at welterweight, with a date and location to be announced.

Big questions remain now that the fight is in place for the time being. How do McGregor and Chandler fit together? What is at stake for the victor of the battle? Marc Raimondi looks ahead and breaks everything down.

Why now and this fight for Conor McGregor?

The now is easy. It’s Conor McGregor, so the UFC wants him back as soon as possible. McGregor came out of the US Anti-Doping Agency’s drug testing pool and has to be back there for six months before competing again, so filming The Ultimate Fighter during this period of suspension is a brilliant move. The UFC can have McGregor on TV to boost TUF ratings and promote the fight without having to enter the Octagon. It makes perfect sense.

This is the fight that all three parties wanted. Chandler obviously wanted it and has said so repeatedly. McGregor and his team were in favor too. Despite being an accomplished wrestler, Chandler has shown a desire to get up and punch, which is the kind of return match McGregor would want. Chandler is also relevant as he has only lost to the best lightweight contenders in exciting matchups. If McGregor wins, a case can be made to throw him into another title fight, which might not be the case if McGregor fought and beat someone like Tony Ferguson.

How compatible are Conor McGregor and Michael Chandler?

It should be a fight. As mentioned above, Chandler is a great wrestler but check out all his fights in the UFC. He will keep up the fight and trade with everyone – and prosper. Chandler was in the fight of the year contenders with Justin Gaethje and Dustin Poirier and had knockout of the year against Ferguson in 2022. The guy was instantly active every time he entered the Octagon, and most of those fights were against elite competition. Chandler was probably a shot or two away from stopping Charles Oliveira and becoming the 2021 lightweight champion, lest we forget.

McGregor probably wouldn’t want a direct exchange of blows. He relies on his precise, accurate and sharp shot to take out Chandler early. There was a time when Chandler’s chin was considered suspicious. However, in the UFC he has more than proven his ability to take massive shots from some of the division’s toughest hitters. That being said, even if the fight is welterweight, McGregor has more power than anyone Chandler has faced before.

On the other hand, Chandler has the advantage that his wrestling may be on McGregor’s mind, which would open the door for Chandler to take more risks. One more note: Chandler has developed into an excellent kicker under coach Henri Hooft at Kill Cliff FC. McGregor is of course coming back from a broken leg. It will be interesting to see how many leg kicks are part of Chandler’s game plan.

These are two of the best fighters in the world. What is at stake for the winner?



UFC announces Conor McGregor’s return to the Octagon

Conor McGregor meets lightweight star Michael Chandler as soon as the next season of The Ultimate Fighter wraps up.

If someone had said three or four years ago that Chandler would one day fight McGregor, most would have scoffed. Chandler lost Bellator’s lightweight title to Patricio “Pitbull” Freire in 2019, bouncing back with a KO over Sidney Outlaw in Japan. While Chandler was one of Bellator’s best fighters, a duel with the biggest star in the history of the sport seemed nowhere in sight. But Chandler never stopped working, knocking out former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson en route to a free hand. He was an incredible asset to the UFC with his class, professionalism and understanding of how to market himself. Chandler has done everything the UFC asked of him — the promotion loves him — and just put on absolute banger fights.

This fight is a massive win for Chandler whether he wins or loses. If he wins, Chandler would be pushed back to the top of the lightweight pecking order as one of the division’s biggest stars. A title fight could be in sight. For McGregor, a win over Chandler would be his best win since stopping Eddie Alvarez to win the lightweight title in 2016. It would revitalize his career and show people that not only can he come back from a devastating injury, but he can also beat a top-notch fighter. Whatever his next fight, whether it was a title fight or against another notable opponent, McGregor would be back in style. And that’s good for UFC business.

How does The Ultimate Fighter affect this fight?

It could be a lot. From a promotional point of view, it gives all parties the opportunity to build this up as a rivalry. Chandler has been very respectful of McGregor and vice versa. How will the two live in close quarters in Las Vegas while filming the show? All eyes will be on the reality series, which will air throughout the summer, to find out.

The two men will also gain different knowledge of each other on the show. There is no way around. Right now they are strangers and have probably never spoken or interacted with each other. That’s going to change here in a few weeks, and those interactions — or confrontations, if that’s the case — will help shape how the setup and actual combat goes. Also, don’t think that both of them won’t be training during the filming of the show, or that both fighters’ trainers won’t be keeping an eye on what the other is doing. It should make for fascinating viewing and an exciting fight. Breaking down Conor McGregor vs. Michael Chandler

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