Michael Chandler isn’t taking it easy on the next generation of contenders.
During a recent appearance on The MMA Hour, Chandler was asked about his budding relationship with recent Sanford MMA transplant Ian Garry. The unbeaten welterweight, who made a successful octagon debut at UFC 268, had said in a previous interview that he’s become a “kid brother” of sorts to Chandler at the Florida-based gym and that he may have already gotten under the lightweight veteran’s skin.
Chandler admitted that he had some tense interactions with Garry in the lead-up to UFC 268, which they both fought on, but said it had much more to do with his own attitude during fight week than any perceived issues with Garry.
“I love Ian, I do,” Chandler said. “I was pumped up that he got that win. We shared a locker room. It’s just hard to compartmentalize for me, I don’t do it well. I can’t be a normal guy on fight week.
“Matter of fact, I’m probably one of the worst people in the world on fight week. It’s the weight cut, it’s the pressure, it’s my attention to detail, and anybody else who kind of comes in between me and my attention to detail and my preparation, it just throws things off. But I love Ian. His nickname is ‘The Future’ for a reason, I do think he is the future.”
Chandler spoke highly of Garry, though he admitted that he’s already spoken to the 23-year-old Irishman about a breach of gym etiquette — that being Garry allegedly not showing up for a session of wrestling practice.
“I did have to call him out for missing practice,” Chandler said. “That’s fine, you miss practice, you’re getting called out. The next time you interview Brendan Allen, you’ve got to ask him about the line, ‘Not everybody deserves to be here,’ because I say that a lot. Especially with us training at Sanford Mixed Martial Arts. I believe we have the best stable of training partners, the best team, the best facility, and the best coaches on the planet, so therefore, not everybody deserves to just show up and be here. So there takes a certain level of commitment, a certain level of discipline, and a certain level of excellence that’s expected of you.
“I’m not saying Ian isn’t that, but I am saying you miss practice, you’re gonna be called out on it. If you show up right on time, you’re late. If you’re not 15 minutes early, you’re late. If you’re the first person in the showers, you could have done a little bit more. I’m not saying that Ian is that, but of course I had to call him out for missing practice, especially wrestling practice. I’m a wrestler through and through — you miss wrestling practice, you might have commitment issues. So I like to give him crap about it.”
At UFC 268, Garry defeated Jordan Williams by knockout with a second remaining in the opening round, then cut a confident promo in front of a packed house at Madison Square Garden. The win improved the former Cage Warriors standout’s record to 8-0 since turning pro in 2019.
Chandler is confident big things are ahead for Garry, even if they’re still getting used to each other’s training habits.
“He’s got a bright, bright future,” Chandler said. “I love him, I love what he stands for, I love his approach to the game, we’re just in two different — I’ve been around the block a couple of times and he’s the new kid on the block. So there’s different things that he is naive to and there’s different things that I wish I was a little bit more naive to when it comes to preparation and training.
“I’m all in, I’m a 100 percent all in committed to this thing and sometimes that comes out and I’ve gotta give some people a tongue-lashing.”