After much back-and-forth between the two fighters on social media, a bout between ‘Iron’ and ‘El Cucuy’ was finalized for UFC 274 on May 7. Both will be looking to get back into the win column, a tough task that Chandler is all too familiar with.
After starting 12-0 in his professional career, Chandler (22-7-0) faced adversity after a loss to Eddie Alvarez at Bellator 106. Chandler followed that up with back-to-back losses to Will Brooks under the Bellator banner. As a result, many within the MMA community believed that Chandler’s best days were behind him. Lucky for us, Chandler didn’t believe that was true.
After that three-fight skid, Chandler would go on a 10-2 run, defeating notable fighters Patricky Pitbull, Benson Henderson, Brent Primus and Dan Hooker in his UFC debut. That experience is why Chandler refuses to look past Tony Ferguson (25-6-0) who is looking to recover from his own three-fight skid when he faces Chandler in May.
“We’re Fighting the Best Guys in the World”
“I would say his track record thus far would indicate that maybe he has lost a step but you can’t just look at records and say he’s lost his last three fights,” Chandler told MMA Fighting. “Those guys you mentioned, Charles Oliveira, Justin Gaethje, Beneil Dariush, these are the top guys in the world. When we’re fighting up at the top of the division doing this round-robin against the best guys on the planet at 155 pounds, you’re going to win some, you’re going to lose some and every now and again, you’re going to lose a couple in a row just like I have.
“Have I lost a step because I lost two in a row? Dropped one to Charles Oliveira and then one to Justin Gaethje? I don’t know, it remains to be seen but I will say this, we’re fighting the best guys in the world. I think any of us inside that top five, top seven could fight anyone else on any given night and become the world champion. That’s how close a lot of these guys are.”
Chandler plans to recover from back-to-back losses for the first time in nearly 8 years against Ferguson. After bursting into the UFC with an impressive first round finish against Dan Hooker, Chandler lost in his sophomore effort to reigning lightweight champion Charles Oliveira at UFC 262. Chandler followed that up with a decision loss against fellow leather-slinger Justin Gaethje at UFC 274. Two of Ferguson’s last three losses also came against Oliveira and Gaethje.
“He’s a Scary, Scary Man”
“You go back to the Justin Gaethje fight, obviously Tony took a lot of damage there,” Chandler said. “But I will say from a damage standpoint, he did get dominated by Oliveira, he got beat pretty bad by Dariush, but he didn’t take a ton of damage, which is great for Tony. But yeah, when you’re talking about me, I’m slinging leather and I’m trying to separate you from consciousness. I am trying to do maximum amount of damage with every single punch and kick that I throw.
“I think it’s a recipe for Tony Ferguson having a pretty rough night. It’s a recipe for me going out there, getting a finish or putting on a dominant performance but you can never count Tony out. He’s a scary, scary man. He doesn’t really have an off switch. Even Justin Gaethje couldn’t really shut the off switch off. He was still conscious, he was still moving. Tony Ferguson is just that dude.”
No matter what the records show, Chandler is preparing for an all out war with the best possible version of Ferguson and fans are hyped for a war that has fight of the year potential written all over it.
“It’s a fight that scares me a little bit because Tony’s a little bit crazy but those are the guys I want to fight,” Chandler said. “It doesn’t matter if Tony Ferguson is on a 10-fight win streak or a 10-fight loss streak, I am preparing like he is Superman. Preparing like he is the best Tony Ferguson we’ve ever seen.”
Who do you think walks away the winner at UFC 274?
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