Michael Chandler is gearing up to face Justin Gaethje for a potential No. 1 contenders spot in the UFC’s lightweight division. But despite the huge fight on his horizon, everyone wants to know about Islam Makhachev who secured the biggest win of his career last weekend and garnered comparisons to former UFC lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov.
“No, not even close,” Chandler said at the UFC 268 media day when asked what he thought of the comparison. “Are they similar? Absolutely. Are they brothers and teammates? Yes, absolutely. I mean, what Khabib has accomplished, it wasn’t Khabib’s skillset, it was the mystique that surrounded Khabib’s accomplishments inside the sport – undefeated and making every superhuman guy in the division look like a mere mortal. So, I wouldn’t say he’s the next best thing whatsoever.”
Fans and media alike have compared the ground game and unstoppable nature of Makhachev to Nurmagomedov but Chandler isn’t on board that hype train just yet.
“I do think he’s very good,” Chandler said. “Obviously the way that he dispatched Dan Hooker in the first round solidifies himself as a top guy. But when you start comparing those two, he’s just not there yet. This is his first time beating a guy in the top 10, and Khabib did it for however many years before that.”
Chandler will fight Gaethje on Saturday on the main card of UFC 268. It’s thought that the winner will be the next in line for the title, after Dustin Poirier.