Conor McGregor vs. Michael Chandler is one big step closer to becoming a reality ... 'cause "Iron" Mike tells TMZ Sports he'd absolutely love to fight the Irish superstar.
"Obviously, there's a lot of big fights that Conor could take. A lot of big names, and I'd love to be the other guy on the other side of the Octagon when that cage door closes, and then go out there and make something special," Chandler says.
It's a fight that Chandler has wanted for some time ... but don't expect a whole lot of trash talk coming from the former Bellator champ -- Michael has a lot of respect for McGregor.
"We may never see another talent, another combat sport like Conor McGregor, and not just until when I retire, we're talking about the next couple of decades."
And, Michael isn't looking for an easy fight with Conor ... he wants him at his absolute best.
"I want him at his biggest, his baddest, his best, and his most dangerous."
As for the weight class where the fight would take place ... Chandler's open to moving up from 155 pounds, where both fighters now fight.
"Looking at him, he's looking big, he's looking beefy, he's looking strong, he's looking fast as he always is at 180 pounds, so let's do it at 170. If not, I can always make 155," Michael tells us.
Before we hung up with Mike, we asked him if he had a message for Conor. Here's what he said.
"Number one, I want the opportunity to compete against you. There's no ill-will. There's a ton of respect. The sport of mixed martial arts is a better place when Conor McGregor is a part of it and when you can put yourself in a position to be his opponent, to be his dance partner in the build-up, the lead up, the hype and then the actual contest, its a dream come true for mixed martial artist."
"That's what I would love so I would love the opportunity to compete against [Conor]."