What’s Next for Michael Chandler after loss to Charles Oliveira at UFC 262?

Published 05/16/2021, 10:44 AM EDT
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – JANUARY 23: Michael Chandler battles Dan Hooker during the UFC 257 event at UFC Fight Island on January 23, 2021 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)


Michael Chandler quickly rose to the top of the UFC’s most marketable division- the lightweight division. His illustrious career in Bellator coupled with a dominant knockout victory over Dan Hooker in his debut fight with the organization at UFC257 led him to a title shot.

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After an electric first-round against Charles Oliveira, Chandler got finished in the second. Despite now fighting for the title once, Chandler is left with multiple options in his bid to make a second run at the title. This is because he is only two fights deep in his UFC stint.

Dana White Privilege?

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In the UFC 262 press conference, Tony Ferguson alleged Chandler got favorable treatment from Dana White as he got a shot at the title pretty quickly, without really establishing his position in the division.

Tony did, however, touch upon a topic that echoes with the fanbase of UFC. Even though Chandler was a champion in Bellator, the UFC’s lightweight division is much deeper at the moment. There are tonnes of up-and-coming contenders who have been fighting under the UFC banner for a significantly longer time than Chandler and are vying for his spot.

Chandler now moves forward with a target on his back. He needs to solidify his position at the top of the food chain in the UFC’s lightweight division.

After the loss at UFC 262, Chandler is looking for a quicker turnaround and seems to be open to fight any big name. “This is the most electrifying division in the sport. There is no shortage of great names, no shortage of great opportunities. We’ll see what happens”, the lightweight contender said at the post-fight press conference.

Read: VIDEO: “YOU Got Dana White Privilege”- Tony Ferguson Goes Off on Michael Chandler During UFC 262 Press-Conference

Is Chandler in for a long road back to the top?

Many believe that the winner of the McGregor vs Poirier trilogy, which is supposed to happen in July, would challenge Oliveira for the undisputed title. Dana White also seems to agree with this logic.

With that fight on the cards for the future, another title challenger still awaits his shot. That challenger is the human wrecking ball, former interim champion Justin Gaethje. It is highly likely that he would be in contention to challenge for the belt after Oliveira’s first defense.

HOUSTON, TEXAS – MAY 15: (R-L) Charles Oliveira of Brazil punches Michael Chandler in their UFC lightweight championship bout at Toyota Center on May 15, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)

Now, coming back to Chandler, a medical suspension of several months could follow, after which he would be ready to go. With the next two challenges already lined up, he needs to face downwards in the rankings, justifying his number 4 rank in a division full of hungry lions. Now, one of the dark horses, former champion Rafael dos Anjos, is on his way back to the top, with an aim to get back his title.

He would be more than eager to take on Chandler next.

Could RDA be next for Michael Chandler?

The fight that makes the most sense for Chandler at the moment is with the former lightweight champion and future Hall of Famer Rafael dos Anjos. Dos Anjos moved back to the lightweight division around the same time when Chandler got signed to the promotion. He was to fight Islam Makhachev back in November on the UFC Vegas 14 fight card but the fight fell through. RDA was quick to call out the marquee signing. He wanted Chandler to serve as a late replacement for Makhachev for his UFC debut. Chandler turned the fight down. This led to some bad blood between the two as they went back and forth on social media.

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RDA fought and beat Paul Felder on that card. He is the number 7 contender in the division at the moment. This fight makes all the sense for both men. A win over RDA would allow Chandler to prove his mettle in the UFC. RDA, who plans another run at the lightweight title, could get closer to the opportunity with a win over “Iron” Mike. Both of them are grappling heavy fighters and possessing an illustrious career. The fight would be an absolute treat to watch. It would sell well with the fans as well.

Who do you think is next for Michael Chandler?

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DIVE DEEPER

Is the UFC Going to Release Tony Ferguson After His Loss to Beneil Dariush at UFC 262?

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Akshit Pushkarna

68 articles

Akshit Pushkarna, who has a Post Graduate Degree in Journalism from Xavier's Institute of Communication, is an MMA writer for EssentiallySports. Before his current role, Akshit worked on the Urban Development beat at the Urban Update magazine. However, combat sports always called out to Akshit, who pursued both boxing and wrestling at a regional level before shifting his focus to MMA journalism.

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