At UFC 254, Khabib Nurmagomedov successfully defended his lightweight title against interim champion Justin Gaethje. Afterwards, Khabib announced his retirement from the sport, opening up the lightweight division to a number of interesting possibilities. Public opinion believes that ultimately the winner of the yet-to-be-official bout between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier planned for next year will likely be crowned the new champion, however there are a number of top contenders out there vying for the opportunity, including the UFC’s most recent acquisition.
Earlier this year, former three-time Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler left his longtime home and signed with the UFC. With such a decorated career in Bellator, the UFC immediately began to push “Iron” Mike, having him serve as the alternate to the Khabib-Gaethje title bout. Now that that job is over though, Chandler is looking to get his first fight in the organization, and he’s hoping it comes against one of the top contenders.
“Tony Ferguson, Justin Gaethje would be number one and number two of the guys I want to fight,” Chandler said on the UFC Unfiltered podcast. “I think it’s a great introductory fight to the UFC fans of who Michael Chandler is. They’re both great fights, they’re both guys who fight. As you guys have seen who watched my fights, guys who run away, that’s the best way to try to beat me is to try to run away from my pressure. Justin Gaethje, Tony Ferguson are going to meet me in the middle of the Octagon and we’re going to have a blast. So either of those guys sounds like a great fight.”
Though either man would undoubtedly lead to an excellent fight, the question of whether Chandler deserves to be immediately thrown into contendership is one that has been asked by many fans and some of his peers. Chandler was not the reigning Bellator lightweight champion when he left the organization and some viewed him being vaulted into a potential title shot for his first bout as disrespectful to the lightweight contenders who have been stacking up wins in the UFC. But Chandler feels that a top-five opponent is a fair request given the UFC’s previous situations with former champions from other organizations.
“I think if we do look at the past as a predictor of the future or right now, you look at Ben Askren, he drew Robbie Lawler right away,” Chandler said. “High profile fight, top-five guy. You look at Justin Gaethje coming over a couple years ago from WSOF which, no shade towards them at the time or his track record, but my resume, some of the fights and wins I have, and Bellator as an organization, I think, is a step above where he came from, he also drew a top-five guy right away in Michael Johnson. So I don’t think I’m being entitled by coming in and saying I would like a top-five guy right away.”
When Chandler was first signed to the UFC, a bout with Tony Ferguson was considered but ultimately fell through as Ferguson was uninterested. Now, following UFC 254, Ferguson and Gaethje present a real possibility, especially considering that McGregor-Poirier is the presumptive favorite to compete for an interim title, if not the real thing. And if that comes to pass, Chandler says he doesn’t blame the UFC, that he has no expectation of being thrust into a title fight immediately, but that he just wants the chance to earn one with a big win.
“That’s the UFC’s job to make that decision,” Chandler said. “Let’s be honest, I share a division with the biggest name in combat sports. The most polarizing guy we may ever see and his name is Conor McGregor. So if Conor McGregor is in the weight class, and there needs to be an interim belt, chances are he could be fighting for it and I don’t fault the UFC for that. I realize I’m the new guy, the lowest guy on the pecking order. I just want to come in and earn it.”
Bellator 251 virtual media day.
Between the Links.
UFC 255 trailer.
Road to Bellator 251.
24 hours on Cowboy’s ranch.
Carlos Ulberg’s road to the Contender Series. CKB giving him some shine.
SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE
Heading back to my home in beautiful Vegas! I’ll be finishing up my training camp there, as I look FWD to a beautifully violent battle with .@PetrYanUFC.— Aljamain Sterling (@funkmasterMMA) November 3, 2020
I can you assure you I will set a high-pace, and someone will have to consciously decide to break!#UFC256 #AndNew! ☝
Your “high pace” won’t break nobody except yourself. Your strikes not precise or strong enough. When I will hit you, I will hurt you. When you go reaching for my legs, you will be lying tanning just like Askren https://t.co/VNPJWgsIDW— Petr “No Mercy” Yan (@PetrYanUFC) November 3, 2020
Just don’t get taken down brother. I know youre strong and won’t tap so you’ll go to sleep.— Aljamain Sterling (@funkmasterMMA) November 3, 2020
Leave your ankles? I’ll leave you on crutches.
Leave your arm or shoulder? You’ll have trouble showering with one arm.
You need a KO to win. I have a few ways to win. Good luck... https://t.co/45IThsclo1
Go put your mask back on and shut up https://t.co/ipFt7vv3Uw— Petr “No Mercy” Yan (@PetrYanUFC) November 3, 2020
I know YOU KNOW I’m dangerous on the ground, that’s why you went to Dagestan to wrestle. You punch with good power and falling over against guys who cant switch it up. December 12 you won’t be able to guess what I’m going to hit you with. Keep training bc I’m coming for you! https://t.co/iUvnfk8N7h— Aljamain Sterling (@funkmasterMMA) November 3, 2020
.@PetrYanUFC knows I’m a tough fight and I know Petr is a tough fight. At the end of the day someone has to lose and that’s just the sport. I can’t wait to see who is right and who is wrong on December 12 https://t.co/mySRQ05IXS— Aljamain Sterling (@funkmasterMMA) November 3, 2020
Why you care about what i think of you so much? Stop telling people what I know. All I know is I’m putting you to sleep on December 12 https://t.co/fTXp9DCaiE— Petr “No Mercy” Yan (@PetrYanUFC) November 3, 2020
A real student of the game becomes his opponent to understand the ways that he can win.— Aljamain Sterling (@funkmasterMMA) November 3, 2020
Good luck, safe flight, and see you soo! I’ll bring beers to your room and we can talk about how I did it. https://t.co/ChVgjXp4Bv
Fastest KO in a UFC title fight.— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) November 3, 2020
Most knockdowns in a UFC title fight.
Featherweight belt. Lightweight belt.
After being ignored on the 3 dates I put forward. (3 consecutive dates I might add! Would have had me at 4 fights this calendar year) Followed then by being sidelined because no crowds in attendance, I said fuck this and bounced.— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) November 3, 2020
4 fights this era = 6mill PPV buys. How much lost? https://t.co/iDVcR2DD3j
The game is still very young! Anderson didn’t start in the origination till he was 31. The world will know for real when this is all said and done. Who’s who and what’s what. Mark it down.— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) November 3, 2020
The cream always rises to the top!
Just like a good pint of Proper No.Twelve with cream! https://t.co/SZvjyt5pal
Guys I think I’m going to have new home soon Very excited— Fabricio Werdum (@FabricioWerdum) November 3, 2020
Thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow.
Who should Michael Chandler fight for his UFC debut?
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