The UFC lightweight contender — No. 6 at 155 pounds in MMA Fighting’s Global Rankings — spoke to the media backstage at UFC London and he broke down his current bout prospects, which have been narrowed down with fellow contenders Charles Oliveira, Islam Makhachev, and Beneil Dariush booking fights.
“As of right now, me and Poirier are the only guys that are not matched up inside the top 5,” Chandler said at the UFC London scrum. “There’s no secret Dustin Poirier and I have been on a collision course to stepping inside the octagon. Beneil Dariush just got matched up. Obviously, Islam and Charles are fighting. [Justin] Gaethje’s out with a nose surgery and I just fought Gaethje two fights ago. I think everybody calling out Conor McGregor — and I have called him out, but I’ve called him out in a respectful manner. ‘Hey Conor, whenever you’re ready to come back, whenever you’re ready, whenever the leg is 100 percent healed.’ Because the sport of mixed martial arts, the UFC as a promotion is better with Conor McGregor in it, but we need to see a healthy Conor McGregor inside the octagon. He doesn’t need to rush back, we’ll see when he comes back.
“So I’m not waiting. I think you’re going to hear some fight news coming pretty soon and it could be me and Dustin Poirier. We’ll see.”
MMA Fighting’s Steven Marrocco reached out to Poirier for comment, and Poirier said he has no knowledge of the bout becoming official anytime soon.
“The golden boy probably knows more than I do,” Poirier wrote in a text.
Talks of a Chandler-Poirier fight heated up after the two were involved in a heated confrontation at UFC 276. Video captured the two arguing cageside at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, with security having to separate the two. According to Chandler, the incident was started by Poirier.
“I walked down there with my beautiful wife and we had our seats and we were walking over there, the security guards came over there and basically said something to the effect of, ‘Hey, he’s not going to sit over there,’” Chandler said. “I thought, ‘OK, that’s interesting.’ All of a sudden I heard some chirping, some very vile venom being spit in my direction. I didn’t know if that was being thrown at me or not. I look over and Dustin Poirier’s pointing at me. He obviously had a bone to pick with me that night, Dustin Poirier. It’s no secret. He’s made it very known that he’s ready for a fight.
“He is thirsty, very, very thirsty for a fight. So he’s looking for anybody and everybody to throw venom at. I was the target that night and I was just trying to watch some fights with my wife. If you think that’s the way that you’re going to get a fight with me, that’s the absolute opposite way of getting a fight with me. I’m not here to be in physical altercations in a public forum, especially with my wife [there]. So yeah, he was not happy with me that night.”
Chandler has gone 2-2 since joining the UFC in January 2021. The three-time Bellator lightweight champion has already fought Oliveira for a vacant UFC title and he remained in contention with a Knockout of the Year candidate of Tony Ferguson at UFC 274 this past May.
Poirier is a former interim lightweight champion and while Chandler is eager to fight him, he views Poirier more as a means to an end than a rival that needs to be dealt with.
“I think there’s a lot of confusion that can happen inside of mixed martial arts careers,” Chandler said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re the No. 1 guy in the world or the No. 100 guy in the world, a lot of confusion can happen.
“In his mind he’s got some ill will toward me if you will and it’s going to make it that much easier to knock him out whenever he oversteps if he and I do step inside the octagon. I have not lost one minute of sleep thinking about Dustin Poirier and I’m going to keep on doing what I’m doing until a fight gets announced and then I’m going to go out there and finish my next opponent and become the UFC champion next year.”
Asked whether he was annoyed by Poirier’s behavior, Chandler admitted that the situation is odd to him considering that he and Poirier appear to be at different stages in their careers. Either way, he’s hoping that any future interactions with Poirier are civil until they actually have to fight.
“I honestly thought Beneil Dariush being on the win streak that he was, he was in a No. 1 contender fight with him and Islam before he got injured,” Chandler said. “That was the fight that I thought I would like to have to get me more toward the title than a guy like Dustin who’s talking about retiring. He might have one foot out the door. He’s talking about going up to 170, he’s got one foot out the door at 155. Does he still have that itch that we all have? We all want to be champion, he’s just maybe trying to collect a paycheck. We don’t know. But yeah, it was definitely eye-rolling.
“No. 1, be a professional. Be a professional. We fight in a cage for money. We don’t need to get in a verbal altercation in front of my wife and in front of the fans there at T-Mobile Arena to prove that you’re a tough guy. Maybe he drank a little bit more hot sauce that night than he should have, but here we are. Either way, eyes rolled, didn’t want to fight him. If I have to fight him, if I end up fighting him, he’s going to get knocked out.”
Watch Chandler’s full UFC London scrum, courtesy of The Mac Life: