Michael Chandler has already been a part of some huge fights since joining the UFC roster, but he’ll reach a new stratosphere with his upcoming showdown against Conor McGregor.
The ex-Bellator lightweight champion is preparing to film the next season of The Ultimate Fighter opposite McGregor, then the two fighters will square off in a matchup destined to become one of the most anticipated cards of the year. In fact, Chandler believes pitting his action-packed, fan-friendly style against McGregor — who is by far the biggest star in UFC history — will result in the perfect recipe for a whole lot of pay-per-view buys.
“If you look at the numbers, I think 2 million [buys], it’s not just a possibility, I think it’s very achievable and very attainable,” Chandler said on The MMA Hour.
Chandler already competed on one of the highest selling cards in history when he debuted against Dan Hooker on the same night McGregor faced off with Dustin Poirier at UFC 257. That card reportedly sold 1.6 million pay-per-view buys, which was second all-time in the UFC behind only McGregor’s fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov that sold 2.4 million buys at UFC 229.
Add in Chandler’s reputation after earning four post-fight bonuses in five bouts with the UFC and he expects his eventual matchup with McGregor to draw a ton of interest.
“It’s hard for me to toot my own horn, but I think what I’ve created is a level of intrigue and mystique that when I show up on fight night and that cage door closes, all hell breaks loose and my foot is on the gas,” Chandler said. “I haven’t seen a brake pedal at all since I signed with the organization. Honestly, since I started fighting.
“It’s just continued to build and build and build. So you look at why this fight got made, Conor knows it’s going to do big numbers.”
Chandler admits that it’s all a little surreal, especially considering he signed with the UFC less than three years ago and he’s already competed on five pay-per-view broadcasts, not to mention earning consideration for Fight of the Year following his battle with Justin Gaethje and Knockout of the Year for his win over Tony Ferguson.
“It is pretty crazy,” Chandler said. “I remember being on the outside looking in and always seeing these huge stages and huge opportunities and huge things that are maybe passing me by. I’m very happy with my career and I’m very happy with the road that I took. I’m very happy with the patience that I showed. The strategery that myself, my management kind of put ourselves through every single big decision that we had to make.
“But it is very fitting and very ironic that the Conor McGregor who came into the UFC and was constantly talking what was going on in his mind and how he manifested things, how he saw things, how he willed things into existence — and now we see the Conor who he is today and he made all that stuff happen for himself. From welfare plumber to who Conor McGregor is now. I truly believe I’ve seen — not exactly like this happening, but stages like this happening, platforms like this happening and notoriety like this happening and blessings like this happening, since I wasn’t even signed with the organization.”
The fight itself will already have a lot of interest organically built into the promotion, but Chandler is also happy he’ll get to spend two months filming a reality show with McGregor, which will surely draw even more people into watching them throw down in the octagon.
“Everybody is tuning in,” Chandler said. “Everybody is buying the pay-per-view for that night, that moment, that opportunity, and you couple that with the opportunity to be on ESPN the network for a month and a half, two months, every Tuesday night or whatever it’s going to be — people are going to be tuning in and the tension’s going to be palpable and the buildup and leadup to this thing, could be the biggest pay-per-view that we’ve ever seen.
“Obviously, I am a wishful thinker. I have confident expectancy for myself to show up and build this thing. Conor knows how to build things. So we’re about to have a blast.”