UFC lightweight contender Michael Chandler has concluded who is the better fighter between former champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and reigning king Islam Makhachev.
When it came to 155-pound competition, Khabib was the undisputed champion, but he and his trainer Javier Mendez long hailed someone else as the man to take over.
Even though Charles Oliveira only had the title for a short period of time between the Dagestani's retirement and UFC 280 in October of last year, his protégé's high expectations were more than realised.
Makhachev defeated Oliveira in the second round of the contest held in Abu Dhabi, extending his current winning run to 11.
During a recent Believe You Me podcast interview with Michael Bisping and Anthony Smith, #5-ranked lightweight contender Michael Chandler was asked to choose the stronger fighter among Dagestan's two UFC lightweight titleholders.
Prior to UFC 280, the former Bellator champion had been outspoken in questioning Makhachev's credentials and even predicted Oliveira would win. Chandler acknowledged Makhachev's qualities after being proven wrong.
“Khabib is better. Only because we haven’t seen — I don’t know if I wanna call it aggression. I think it is aggression,” Chandler said.
“When Khabib fought, and when he bear-hugged somebody, it was aggressive. Like, he wanted to break your spine. Islam, very effective, will take guys down. But with Khabib, it was like, ‘I wanna break your spine.”
“I think there was a little bit of voice inflection where it made it sound like Khabib is 10 times better. I don’t think he’s 10 times better than Islam. But in my book, Islam just hasn’t proven that yet,” Chandler stated.
With a great performance at UFC 284 the following weekend, Makhachev might slightly alter Chandler's perception. The current lightweight champion, "The Eagle," will defend his title against Alexander Volkanovski, another divisional champion.
In the pound-for-pound rankings, the Dagestani will move up to first place with a win.