Michael Chandler has made it no secret that, like many fighters, he’d love to step into the cage with Conor McGregor. However, he believes his motivation is a little different.
Appearing on The MMA Hour, Chandler — the No. 6-ranked lightweight on the MMA Fighting Global Rankings — campaigned for a meeting with “The Notorious,” explaining that for him it’s not all about the financial windfall that is typically guaranteed to a McGregor adversary.
“I think everybody wants to fight Conor, but I want to fight him for a different reason,” Chandler said. “Everybody wants to fight Conor because they know it’s a big payday. I’m here in mixed martial arts to do big things. To be in big fights, big stages, against big opponents, in big arenas, with a lot of eyeballs. That’s what excites me about a fight with Conor.
“I’ve got a ton of respect for Conor because what Conor has done — and people will discredit what he has done because of certain things that he has said — but what he has done is revolutionize the entire sport. The sport of mixed martial arts is better because Conor McGregor is in it. It’s bigger and it’s got more eyeballs on it because of what Conor has done, so to share the octagon with him, that’s why I want to do it. It’s not the payday, it’s not the ‘red panty night,’ it’s not the thing that all these other fighters are chasing. Do I want that? Do I want to provide for my family? Of course. But I want epic moments of maximum amounts of impact and that’s what you get when you fight Conor McGregor.
McGregor is coming off of back-to-back losses to rival Dustin Poirier and, more notably, a broken leg suffered in what was their third overall meeting at UFC 264 in July. In all, McGregor has experienced mixed results in recent years going just 3-3 since 2016 (that’s not including a loss in boxing to Floyd Mayweather Jr.), but every event he headlines generates massive box office numbers and a proportionally massive payday for both himself and his opponent.
It’s unclear when exactly McGregor will be cleared to compete again and if so, who he will set his sights on, but Chandler thinks it’s possible their timelines could match up nicely. After a brutal war with Justin Gaethje at UFC 268, Chandler aims to rest and return around the late first-quarter or middle of 2022.
“I wish [McGregor] well on his recovery, it looks like out there on social media he’s back to training and he’s moving around, but he’s going to need some time and he deserves some time,” Chandler said. “He’s set for life, he doesn’t need to fight. That’s another thing you’ve got to remember, he doesn’t need to fight, the man’s set for life financially. He fights because he loves it and he fights because of what it does to his soul, what he gets to do with his platform.
“So I think it’s a fight that makes sense. I’m a guy who has solidified myself inside the top of the division. Conor needs to come back and get a win, but he’s also got a ton of options, so we’ll see what happens.”