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Morning Report: Daniel Cormier says UFC 257 ‘will really elevate’ Michael Chandler if he wins, calls out Conor McGregor

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Next weekend at UFC 257, former three-time Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler will finally make his long awaited UFC debut. It’s a big opportunity for Chandler to announce himself to the UFC fans but it also comes with a good amount of risk. Chandler will be facing off against sixth-ranked lightweight contender Dan Hooker for his debut, and according to Daniel Cormier, that risk and reward makes the the optimal debut for Chandler.

“Perfect fight,” Cormier said on DC and Helwani. “Dan Hooker is going to challenge and make Michael Chandler fight in every aspect of mixed martial arts. Hooker is as tough as they come, he’s from a great team, he’s got unbelievable fighting spirit, will, cardio. I mean, him and Dustin Poirier went to absolute war in the APEX just recently. So if you want to see whether or not Michael Chandler is ready for the elite of the division, he has to fight and beat Dan Hooker, which is not an easy thing to do.”

The last time a Bellator champion made his way to the UFC, it was Eddie Alvarez who made his debut against Donald Cerrone. Alvarez ended up losing a decision, that set back his title aspirations right out of the gate. Likewise, Cormier believes Dan Hooker has plenty of potential to do the same against Chandler, making a win for “Iron” Mike all that more impressive.

“Challenging fight,” Cormier said. “I’m not exactly sure. Outside of Patricio Pitbull - who is fantastic - this will be the toughest fight he’s ever had. . . When you look at who Dan Hooker is today, in his absolute prime, coming off a main event fight with Dustin Poirier where it went tit for tat for over 25 minutes, this is easily one of the biggest fights Chandler’s ever been involved in. He also gets the rub. He gets to fight on the same night as Conor McGregor. It really will elevate Chandler if he gets the job done. But if he doesn’t, we’re back in the situation where you have those highly thought of free agents and it doesn’t work out.”

Ultimately, things did work out for Alvarez who following the Cerrone loss won a couple fights and then claimed the lightweight title before losing it to the man who will headline UFC 257, Conor McGregor. And given that McGregor is the main event, Cormier has a piece of advice for Chandler: should he get the win, call out Conor.

“I know my guy (Khabib Nurmagomedov) is one of the biggest stars in the world now, but do you remember UFC 205?” Cormier said. “‘I want to fight your chicken!’ ... Khabib’s on the prelims: ‘I want to fight your chicken!’ then all of a sudden they start to mention Khabib and Conor in the same breath. Khabib isn’t the champ yet, he’s a young guy on his way up and then it just builds and the UFC can call back to that.

“For Chandler to be in the co-main event, it puts him in a perfect spot. And Dan Hooker, too. If I’m Dan Hooker and I win, I’m immediately saying something about McGregor. Whoever wins at 155 pounds on that fight card, you say something about McGregor because guess what? McGregor doesn’t have the ability to not respond. He will say something back. Because he gets going and he’ll just kind of say something and elevate you. There’s a level of stardom that comes with fighting on and with this dude that I’ve never seen. So I’m calling him out if I’m Michael Chandler and I’m glad to be in that spot.”

UFC 257 takes place Jan. 23 on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi.


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Thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow



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