Michael Chandler has his sights set on the UFC lightweight championship ahead of his fight against Charles Oliveira at UFC 262, but Khabib Nurmagomedov is on his mind as well.
In an interview with TMZ Sports, Chandler didn't rule out potentially facing Khabib one day despite the fact that Nurmagomedov is retired:
"He's gonna be very intertwined with the UFC for decades to come and especially the lightweight division," Chandler said of Khabib. "He's still very young so we'll see what happens in the future."
To Chandler's point, the 29-0 Nurmagomedov is still only 32, meaning there is still plenty of time for him to change his mind and return to the Octagon at some point if he so chooses.
Khabib is among the most dominant UFC fighters of all time, as evidenced by his 13-0 record in the promotion and three successful title defenses, including a submission win over Justin Gaethje in his final fight at UFC 254 in October.
If Khabib were to return in an effort to run his career record to 30-0, it stands to reason he would want to do it against the best in the lightweight division.
Chandler has a chance to earn that distinction at UFC 262 when he faces Oliveira for the lightweight belt that Khabib vacated.
The 34-year-old Chandler, who has just one UFC fight under his belt, acknowledged that while Oliveira will be a challenge, his own skill set matches up well: "Charles Oliveira poses a lot of threats on the ground, but I've never even come close to really getting submitted. I have a kind of a sixth sense when it comes to the ground game to not be submitted."
Chandler, who owns a 22-5 record and is a former three-time Bellator lightweight champion, also provided a blueprint of what he plans to do at UFC 262:
"Hit him. Hit him as hard as I can numerous times on the feet. Keep the fight standing, put him in panic mode, knock him out in the first round.
"I'm very good at keeping my foot on the gas for 25 minutes. I've done it a dozen times now so go out there and knock him out first or second round, get my hand raised in front of a huge Houston crowd on May 15. Collect my paycheck, go kiss my wife and figure out what's next."
If Chandler does indeed beat the 30-8 Oliveira to become the new UFC lightweight champion, he will have no shortage of potential challengers waiting for him.
The lightweight division is arguably the best and deepest division in UFC, and any of Dustin Poirier, Gaethje, Tony Ferguson or Conor McGregor stand out as possible opponents provided Chandler gets his hand raised May 15.