After several months of speculation following the two being the headliner coaches in opposition to each other in The Ultimate Fighter 31, it’s official: Conor McGregor will be taking on Michael Chandler in his first fight back after suffering a fight-stopping tibia injury in the opening round of his bout against Dustin Poirier at UFC 257 in July of 2021.
Former fighter Chael Sonnen believes that the longer the fight goes for McGregor (22-6 MMA, 10-4 UFC) against Chandler (23-8 MMA, 2-3 UFC) the worse his chances become.
“Conor has one way to beat Michael Chandler, which is knocking him out in the first round,” Sonnen explained on his YouTube channel. “Turns out Conor’s good at knocking people out in the first round. But that is his only chance. If this sees the second round – think of DraftKings or something – you have totally different odds.
“If this sees the third round, we don’t even have a conversation: For sure, Chandler wins. Chandler could lose all 10 minutes to get to the third round, but if the third round begins, Chandler wins the fight.”
Sonnen added an advisory that McGregor’s team should opt for a three-round fight against Chandler as that would also elevate the McGregor’s chances to win as well.
“It’s not too late because the bout agreement isn’t signed to make Conor and Chandler three rounds,” Sonnen continued. “Now you have a different conversation. You have a completely different line, you have a completely different book, you have a completely different analysis. Now Conor can win. Now he can win a decision. He can bank eight minutes and lose seven and win a decision.”
Sonnen’s advice makes sense, considering the fight will be McGregor’s first bout in nearly three years in addition to suffering a debilitating injury, but is also curious, considering since he joined the UFC, Chandler hasn’t been known for his gas tank and has employed strategies in his fights that lean more towards a glass-cannon, “kill or be killed” approach than his stint in Bellator.
Chandler, who is coming off a third-round submission loss to Dustin Poirier (who also defeated McGregor in the latter’s last fight) at UFC 281, has two wins in his five fights in the UFC: a TKO victory over Dan Hooker in his first fight and a devastating front kick knockout of Tony Ferguson at UFC 274. Chandler believes that he’ll be McGregor’s final opposition in the UFC and that he’ll beat “The Notorious” Irishman in such convincing fashion that he’ll force him into retirement.
“I do – I think I’ll be the last person (he fights),” Chandler said in an interview with ESPN. “I think he’s lost fights, but I think we haven’t really seen him be dominated. He was getting beat by Poirier and then obviously he had the injury. He got beat by Poirier the first time obviously, but I think I dominate him in a fashion that it’s almost as if he can keep trying to come back but he will have lost the fans’ interest so much more after I do to him what I’m going to do to him on June 29.”
Chandler added that there will be some extra motivation to batter McGregor on account of how long he’s been made to wait for the big fight after the two butted heads during The Ultimate Fighter 31.
“There’s definitely a certain aspect of that revenge aspect, make him pay for the last year,” Chandler said. “Some of it was outside of his control but some of it, a lot of it, he created. I knew what I signed up for, I knew I signed up to do The Ultimate Fighter against a guy who was coming back from a devastating leg injury and it could have been delayed, but I didn’t think it would be delayed this long, and all of that is just deposits in the bank of me just wanting to absolutely smash this dude.”
Conor McGregor and Michael Chandler are currently slated to fight in a middleweight bout (which is a weight class higher than their initially rumored welterweight bout) on June 29th.
Do you think Conor McGregor needs an early knockout to beat Michael Chandler, as Chael Sonnen thinks? Let us know in the comments.