We screenshot every time Michael Chandler bent the rules at UFC 281

There’s been a lot of talk about unsavory tactics Michael Chandler used against Dustin Poirier at UFC 281. Poirier was vocal from the get go and called out Chandler for a number of moves that range from ‘WTH’ to this was even banned at UFC 1.

Today we’re taking a closer look at the bout between the two, hoping to provide enough evidence so that every MMA fan can disregard Chandler’s non-apology tour during which he provided a variety of excuses and reiterated how he’s not dirty.

Chandler has been accused of several fouls. Mainly: hits to the back of the head, fish hooking and trying to blow his nose onto Poirier’s face.

Round 1 was exciting but featured no major fouls. One potential moment that could result in a foul came when Poirier was hunched over, to get up at which point Chandler fired a vicious strike that just barely missed the back of Poirier’s head.

In round 2 things got really gritty. After Chandler landed a monster slam of Poirier he proceeded to try and guard pass all while landing shots to the side of Poirier’s head – potentially towards the back of his head.

For these two argument can be made that Poirier was turning his head to the side so Chandler was landing to the back of his head.

Chandler was ear to ear in this next one with Poirier and the argument can be made it’s technically not a foul though it’s doubtful he was hitting the back of the ear like he explained.

For those of us keeping count, that was at least 4 strikes to the back of Poirier’s head.


For a lot of these shots to the back of the head, Poirier’s head was actually resting on Chandler’s bottom arm – ie he had control of the head.

Right after these, Poirier would try to blow his nose in Poirier’s eyes.

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Poirier would end up scrambling out of closed guard and attempt a diamond choke – at which point Chandler transitioned to back control.

From there he would land a major blow to the back of Poirier’s head (though he still appeared to be aiming for the side of the head).

At which point referee Dan Miragliotta could be heard saying “Watch the back of the head” during the match.

Poirier would then end up slowly recovering closed guard but was still arguably mounted by Chandler. The two are next to the fence at this point, and Poirier was successful in defending from an RNC and that fish hooking attempt.

Moments later Chandler would make another attempt of it.

At which point it, ref could be heard saying ‘Get your fingers out of the…’ presumably his mouth though it’s hard to tell.

Poirier was also pointing right at Chandler’s glove here. Poirier would admit here to Ariel Helwani that he bit down on Chandler’s fingers once he felt them on his mouth guard.

And Chandler went on to tell ESPN that this wasn’t a ‘dirty’ move at all because in his mind fish hooking is to the side of the cheek not just anywhere in the mouth.

“Yes, my hand went into his mouth because I drilled. I drilled reaching down, grabbing the chin, grabbing the chin, lifting it up and going for the rear naked choke about a thousand times.”

“So when I reached down there and grabbed the top of his mouthpiece, which I now realize it was, or grabbing his mouthpiece obviously is the same shape as the chin in my mind. Mind body connection going off of muscle memory official is the lip. If you saw me ripping his lip and his skin. Yeah, that’s official. But me grabbing his mandible, if you will, or grabbing his jaw.”

“I mean, do I need to apologize for it? Not necessarily. You’re in the heat of the moment, and the referee is there to protect both fighters. But I will, if people want me to apologize. I’m sorry. I’m not a cheater. I love the sport. Too much to cheat. I’ve never cheated in my entire life. Yeah, people can call me a dirty fighter if they want, but that’s about 1% of the population out there.”

Back to UFC 281.

At this point Chandler was visibly frustrated and landed several heavy handed strikes to the back of his head.

Chandler was somewhat frustrated by Poirier defending and had freed his arm to finally land couple of major hammerfists.

And this time they weren’t even theoretically on the side of the head. They appeared pointed at the back of the head/neck if anything.

At this point we can see ref interfering and smacking at Chandler’s hand.

Daniel Cormier, on commentating duty, could be heard saying: “Those are all behind the head”, he chuckled and added “Seems like every shot was at the back of the head”.

Joe Rogan remarked “A couple of them were near the ear, a bunch of them were not.”

The two went on to round 3- in which Poirier submitted Chandler after scrambling to his back. And slapping on a choke initially over the chin but then adjusted under the chin and that was all she wrote.