Michael Chandler has no problem fighting Tony Ferguson but he’s not going to cater to anybody’s demands when it comes to his return to action.
Barely two months removed from a Fight of the Year performance in a war with Justin Gaethje at UFC 268, the former Bellator lightweight champion is taking the necessary time to recover before committing to his next outing.
That’s why Chandler couldn’t help but scoff the recent callout where Ferguson claimed he was delaying “that ass whoopin’” by not fighting him sooner than a proposed timeline later this year instead.
There’s My Bitch!!! @MikeChandlerMMA The Brass @danawhite @ufc Relayed Your Message Saying You Would Be Ready For Me April/June. Looks Like Your Trying To Delay That Ass-Whoopin’ I Owe Ya For Cutting In Line Kid- It’s Wrestling Season MF, Man Up- Champ pic.twitter.com/Er26dEMDx6— Tony Ferguson (@TonyFergusonXT) January 1, 2022
“Tony’s an interesting cat,” Chandler said when responding to Ferguson on The MMA Hour. “We’re in January so we’re 8 to 10 weeks removed from the fight [with Justin Gaethje]? It took me six weeks to recover from the last one to actually stop hobbling around and then I heard something last week that he wanted to fight me in February, which was about five weeks’ notice. Whenever a guy says ‘hey, I want to fight this guy but I want more money’ or ‘I want to fight this guy but it’s got to be this date.’ ‘I want to fight this guy but it’s got to be at this weight.’ When you add these little caveats and asterisks, are you really asking for the fight or are you only doing it on your terms in a scenario where you know a guy’s not ready to fight?
“I’m not ready to fight in February. It’s five weeks away. Yeah, there was some rumblings. He was tweeting and then him and Gregor [Gillespie] were tweeting. Twitter’s a place where people talk. I would love to fight Tony but we’ve got to do it on a normal timeframe.”
Just after signing with the UFC in the latter half of 2020, Chandler documented the difficulty he faced in finding a high profile opponent in the lightweight division to accept his challenge.
Chandler admits that Ferguson was on that list but then a similar situation unfolded where the former interim champion was once again calling him out for a fight when he wouldn’t have adequate time to prepare.
“I signed with the promotion, the UFC, in September,” Chandler explained. “Got offered the Oct. 24 card. Tony’s name was on that list. He declined. Then I made weight Oct. 24 and then three weeks later he said he wanted to fight me in December, which I pulled myself out of training camp, wasn’t ready to go back into a training camp and then he went all over social media and said that I turned down a fight, wouldn’t fight him and I was afraid of him.
“But once again, it was a short notice, Tony type of offer. It’s got a Tony shaped bow on top of the offer.”
Chandler has certainly endured a rollercoaster ride since joining the UFC roster with three fights in 2021 including his battle with Gaethje and a title bout against Charles Oliveira this past May.
After taking a break to start 2022, Chandler would definitely be interested in drawing Ferguson as his next opponent but he’s not looking to fight again until later this year.
“Tony is Tony and I respect the guy,” Chandler said. “Love the way that he fights. Would love to fight him. Would love to share the octagon with him but it’s got to be on a normal timeframe. Everybody knows what a normal timeframe is, you need 8 to 10 weeks to train for a fight. I take this sport very seriously. I take these fights very seriously. So no, I’m not going to fight a guy on five weeks’ notice just saying yes to a fight 8 or 10 weeks after a previous fight.”
“I think a Tony fight checks a lot of the boxes that I’m looking for. I’ve just had such a crazy ride the last 16 months.”
In previous interviews, Chandler has also mentioned Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier as potential opponents, which is why he’s not committing to anybody until he’s actually ready to compete again.
“Tony’s definitely a guy that checks a lot of the boxes but there’s a couple different guys that I would love to fight,” Chandler said. “At this point, I’m sitting back, licking my wounds physically from the fight. I feel phenomenal.
“I’m excited about 2022. I think 2022’s going to be a huge year for myself and the company as a whole. Tony’s definitely a guy on that list and we’ll see. It’s just got to be on a normal timeframe. Sometime this early summer.”