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Michael Chandler apologizes for being ‘a little bit too harsh’ when criticizing Dustin Poirier for quitting at UFC 269

Michael Chandler isn’t above admitting when he’s possibly crossed a line.

During UFC 269, the former Bellator lightweight champion was paying close attention to the main event between Charles Oliveira and Dustin Poirier as he looks to get back into title contention in 2022 while providing some impromptu commentary on social media.

The fight ended after Oliveira locked in a standing rear-naked choke and Chandler criticized Poirier after he ultimately tapped out rather than continued to fight the submission until the very end.

“Broke him,” Chandler wrote on Twitter at the conclusion of the fight. “I would never ever quit. I went out on my shield after being separated from consciousness, congrats to Oliveira.”

While co-hosting The Fighter vs. The Writer, Chandler explained why he was so critical towards Poirier for ending the fight with Oliveira by tapping out rather than allowing the choke to put him to sleep.

“I think the hardest part with chokes, there’s so many chokes out there that are a rear-naked choke or any choke that has been put on somebody where you think you’re never going to get out of it,” Chandler said. “That’s why we love this sport, too, people say ‘he’s done, he’s done, he’s done!’ and then you can’t believe when they get out of it. You hear it with Joe Rogan cageside, Jon Anik, [Daniel Cormier] cageside, they go bananas when guys get out of it because you never know quite how deep a choke is.

“I think there’s always a little bit more fight left before a tap could happen. I will admit maybe I was a little bit too harsh. Maybe the word quit was not the right word to use.”

Of course, Chandler has personal experience when addressing Oliveira as an opponent after he faced the Brazilian back in May to crown a new UFC lightweight champion.

In the opening round, Chandler had to fight off a similar submission after Oliveira hopped on his back while standing and attempted to lock in the rear naked choke. Chandler eventually broke free and then nearly finished Oliveira with strikes before he ended up suffering the same fate in the second round.

When it came to Poirier getting stuck in the same position, Chandler admits that perhaps he got lost in the heat of the moment by using the word “quit” as he addressed the finish.

“I also got my back taken by Charles Oliveira. He almost had that choke locked up and I was able to fight out of it,” Chandler said. “So I’ve been in that position. I was able to get out of it. I will admit, I will concede maybe using the quit was a little bit harsh, especially against one of the good guys. People are probably like how are you going to come at Dustin Poirier, he’s one of the best guys in MMA, right? It was just me.

“More than anything, I guess it was the admiration, the jubilation of watching Charles Oliveira do what he did when nobody thought he was going to be able to do that except most of his fellow countrymen in Brazil and maybe a couple analysts and a couple of his fellow fighters, coupled with loving the sport even though I lost to Charles Oliveira, loving the sport and being pumped up on the sport. I’ll admit, it was probably a little bit too critical. But that’s kind of where I’m at on it.”

During his own career, Chandler hasn’t tasted defeat very often and the three legitimate finishes on his resume were all fights that ended by knockout or TKO.

Chandler has never been stopped by a submission but he’ll fully admit that it doesn’t somehow making him better than Poirier just because he tapped out.

“I have never tapped and it doesn’t make me tougher or better or more whatever than anybody,” Chandler said. “Maybe I’ll eat my words someday. But that’s what we do. That’s why they say words once spoken can never be caught with the swiftest horse. Once you say something, you’ve got to own it. You’ve got to eat it.

“Sorry for anybody out there who I offended who loves Dustin Poirier, sorry for anybody out there who thought it was a little bit too critical. But that’s how I was feeling in the moment. I love the sport, I love this division, I love fighting.”

Despite falling to him earlier this year, Chandler expressed a lot of admiration for Oliviera for his gutsy win while also acknowledging he probably has a little bit more of a professional rivalry when it comes to Poirier.

According to Chandler, it all stems from his entry into the UFC in 2020 when he was searching for an opponent to face in his debut and Poirier showed no interest whatsoever.

“I don’t think Dustin Poirier’s a bad guy,” Chandler said. “I don’t think he thinks I’m a bad guy. But as a competitor, he called me and Charles fighting fool’s gold. He dismissed me saying he wouldn’t fight me in the UFC even after I knocked out Dan Hooker.

“So he was just a little bit more dismissive of me. I don’t think he’s a bad guy. I actually think he’s a great guy. I think he’s a phenomenal ambassador for the sport but he and I, when it comes to the competition aspect of us both being fighters inside the same division, I think we both have a little bit of a bone to pick with each other.”

If Poirier didn’t like what was said or he’s just looking for another opponent to face in his return to action next year, Chandler is more than happy to volunteer for service.

Beyond this particular incident, Chandler has always considered Poirier one of his dream opponents and he would welcome the chance to clash with him in the new year.

“That’s what I wanted to do when I came into the UFC,” Chandler explained. “I wanted to fight all the top guys and Poirier was actually one of the guys that we asked for and he declined in the very beginning, which I have no problem with that. He was at the top of the division and I was new guy from the outside of the UFC coming in.

“So he’s always been a name on the list. He’s a guy that I respect, a guy that I admire inside of the sport of mixed martial arts and a guy I would love to compete against.”