Michael Chandler Anticipates Tension, Trash Talk on ‘TUF 31’ with Conor McGregor
Michael Chandler has fought five times since signing with the UFC in 2021. His future opponent, Conor McGregor, has fought just twice over that same timeframe.
With that being said, the former Bellator lightweight champion is confident that the spotlight of coaching on “The Ultimate Fighter 31” as a lead-in to a big pay-per-view showdown will light a fire under McGregor as he prepares to make his long-awaited UFC return.
“I have been very active. I just signed with the promotion a little over two years ago, and I have fought the who’s who, the toughest strength of schedule that maybe anybody ever has coming into the UFC,” Chandler recently said on ESPN’s SportsCenter. “… Conor has had the luxury of stepping away from the sport because he has a very padded bank account. He does live a life of luxury.
“We can’t make the mistake of thinking (he’s) lost his passion for mixed martial arts … It’s his first love. I think we’re gonna see a nostalgia of Conor McGregor. He’s gonna find his roots again.”
While “TUF” isn’t quite the attraction it was when the reality show helped launch the UFC into prominence, having the sport’s biggest star as a coach will likely bring more eyeballs to the screen for weekly episodes. It’s also something that interests Chandler, as he claims to be looking forward to the psychological battles that could occur as the season progresses. He fully expects the verbally skilled McGregor, who sold many a fight on the microphone over the years, to emerge on “TUF 31.”
“It’s a challenge that I’m excited [for] and willfully throwing myself into. I have visualized it. I have thought about it,” Chandler said. “We’ve loved Conor because he’s interesting, because he’s interested. Rest assured, he’s doing his homework on me. He knows how many times I lost, he knows who I’ve lost to. He knows in what form or fashion I have lost. He knows what the chinks in my armor are. He knows where I might have doubts or insecurities. He loves to well up old emotions and make them brand new and make you trip over yourself live on TV. I’m expecting that.
“He’s a witty guy with a wicked tongue and he’s got the gift of gab. I’m excited to fight fire with fire in that regard. I’m excited for the tension, the competition, the linguistic battles that we’re going to get into…”
Chandler himself has never backed down when it comes to putting on a show in the cage, and he plans on doing everything he can to help sell his fight with McGregor on screen as “TUF” coach, as well.
“Make no mistake, I respect Conor for what he has done for the sport, I respect him for the life he has built for him and his family, the legacy he will have when he does step away from the sport,” Chandler said. “I’m coming for the win later on down the line on pay-per-view. As the competition starts, I’m already studying old seasons of ‘The ultimate fighter’, his season prior against Urijah Faber years ago. [I’m] watching the wy he carried himself, watching the ebbs and flow of how this show goes so we can give the fans what they want.”
Ultimately, “TUF 31” is just an appetizer for what promises to be an all-action bout between two of the sport’s most entertaining fighters.
“I think it’s just perfect. As mixed martial artists, when we get into the sport, we want the brightest lights, the biggest stages, the biggest opportunities of our lives,” Chandler said. “Fighting Conor McGregor inside the Octagon live on pay-per-view is the pinnacle of mixed martial arts. I want that big stage. I’ve been fighting for it for the last 15 years now. It’s finally come full circle, it’s finally come to fruition.”
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