Breaking down Michael Chandler's signature moves ahead of Conor McGregor fight

Michael Chandler will fight Conor McGregor at UFC 303. What kind of fighting style can we expect from Chandler?
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

With the UFC finally officially announcing the return of Conor McGregor this summer at UFC 303 against No. 6 ranked lightweight contender Michael Chandler, the fight community could not be more excited. This long-awaited matchup sees two of the most entertaining fighters in the sport looking to earn victory on one of the biggest cards of the year.

By now, everyone, including most casual mixed martial arts fans, ARE familiar with the skillset McGregor brings to the Octagon, some may be unfamiliar with what exactly Chandler does best inside the cage. Let's take a look at how Chandler likes to fight and what fight fans could witness on June 29.

Fans who have seen Chandler's UFC fights against Dan Hooker, Charles Oliveira, Tony Ferguson, Justin Gaethje, and Dustin Poirier may believe he's only a reckless brawler with a low fight IQ but this is far from the whole story. While every time he steps into the Octagon, there is great potential for a knockout or fight of the year candidate, his skillset is much more diverse than the handful of his fights in the UFC limelight.

Chandler has always been one of the most exciting lightweight fighters on the planet, but since moving to the UFC, he has sacrificed some of his strongest attributes in favour of becoming one of the most beloved fighters in the sport. He is truly a very well-rounded mixed martial artist but much of his skillset has been forgotten amidst his chaotic UFC career.

For starters, Chandler stands at 5'8" and fights primarily out of a traditional orthodox stance. He is also a former NCAA Division One All-American wrestler out of the University of Missouri. He has used his wrestling expertise to help build a solid base for his mixed martial arts career where he has evolved into a much more well-rounded competitor, namely with his striking. Additionally, he has seven career submission victories with only one defeat coming by submission in his most recent fight against Poirier.

Although Chandler is not the most fundamentally sound striker and will stray away from his technique at times, his elite athleticism allows for a greater margin of error. While he has progressed significantly as a fighter, one aspect of his game has remained constant throughout Bellator and now his UFC career, he is one of the fastest starters in the sport.

From the opening bell, Chandler will be looking to put his opponent on the back foot and really look to bring the fight forward. His explosive kicks and hooks almost always force his challengers into a retreat in the first five minutes of a fight. However, after his opening barrage, he begins to fade and becomes a lesser fighter although still very capable of competing and earning victory.

Michael Chandler stats

Breaking down his 23-8 career record, Chandler is 18-5 in fights decided inside the distance, and 5-3 in fights that have gone the entire scheduled amount of time, whether that be 15 or 25 minutes. In addition, his last decision victory was in December 2018 against Brent Primus at Bellator 212. His game plan is simple and has remained consistent for years, look to finish the fight early and often.

On the surface, the fighting styles of Chandler and McGregor may seem similar - two explosive athletes who are elite first round fighters that begin to fade after the first seven or eight minutes of a fight - but they do it in different ways. McGregor is a lesser volume, precision striker with much more direct punches and kicks. He looks to set up his opponents to walk into certain punches or kicks without spending too much energy. Chandler on the other hand does resemble more of a brawler who looks to overwhelm his competition with athleticism and brute force.

Similarly, both fighters have proven their ability to win decision victories, and against tough competition, but it's without doubt that their clearest route to victory is through an early finish, primarily a knockout.

When Chandler and McGregor finally meet one another inside the Octagon at UFC 303, it will undoubtedly be one of the most entertaining first rounds in recent memory. A matchup that sees an elite counter striker in McGregor taking on a hard-hitting, forward moving, elite athlete like Chandler is perfect matchmaking. June 29 cannot come fast enough as fight fans around the world await one of the most anticipated matchups in mixed martial arts history.


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