The name of the game throughout Chandler’s short tenure inside the Octagon has been violence, action, and entertainment. It’s hard to eliminate any of those three adjectives from the description of his four fights under the UFC banner.
In his most recent outing, the dominating theme was the first of those three words. Against Tony Ferguson at UFC 274, “iron” recovered from a first-round knockdown to deliver one of the all-time great MMA knockouts, flatlining “El Cucuy” with a brutal front kick.
While he’d initially hoped that his victory and viral finish of Ferguson would elevate him back to the gold or perhaps into a blockbuster money fight versus former two-division champion Conor McGregor, both options have been dampened in recent times.
Although he’d called to face Islam Makhachev for the belt should Charles Oliveira have chosen to pursue McGregor himself, the announcement of the Russian and Brazilian’s championship fight at UFC 280 has eliminated that choice.
Also, while McGregor remains without a planned fight or opponent, reports have suggested that he’s unlikely to return until early 2023, which would leave a usually active Chandler waiting on the sidelines.
With that said, Chandler is looking elsewhere to see who could secure him the victor of October’s lightweight title fight, and he’s identified one contender who would do the job.
Chandler Lays Out LW Title Picture
During a recent interview with TMZ Sports, Chandler, who previously competed for the belt against Oliveira at UFC 262, discussed his path back to the title that he was inches away from collecting in May 2021.
And while he’s had a blossoming feud with #2-ranked contender Dustin Poirier, Chandler is seemingly sticking to his vow to not face “The Diamond,” instead setting his sights on Beneil Dariush.
“Next, I wanna put myself in line for the title,” Chandler said. “I think, in my mind, Beneil Dariush was in the number one contender spot with him and Makhachev about to fight to become the number one contender. Beneil Dariush is on a four, five, six — no, seven-fight win streak, maybe. So how do you not say that Beneil Dariush might be the number one contender outside of Islam Makhachev.
“Maybe you put me and Dariush in by the end of the year, we end up getting some answers pretty quick. You’ve got your new champion in Makhachev or your current champion in Charles Oliveira, then you get a clear-cut number one contender, me or Beneil Dariush,” Chandler continued. “That’s the fight I see with the biggest potential and the best potential for me getting back to the title shot.”
Dariush appeared set to fight for the chance to challenge for gold earlier this year, when he was booked to headline UFC Vegas 49 alongside Makhachev in February. But after breaking his leg in training, the Iranian-American has been forced to watch from the sidelines as he’s fallen from #3 to #6 on the lightweight ladder.
Nevertheless, given his lengthy win streak and place in the division prior to his injury setback, it stands to reason that one good win will see Dariush secure his place opposite either Oliveira or Makhachev, and Chandler looks open to meeting him the middle with that opportunity on the line.
Although, judging by a recent report, Chandler may need to battle Poirier for the spot opposite Dariush…
Would you like to see Michael Chandler face Beneil Dariush next?