After all the speculations, Michael Chandler has finally landed in the UFC. The former Bellator 155-pound champ fought out his contract with his previous promotion with a win in August. Dana White confirmed the news of the signing on ESPN’s SportsCenter on Thursday.
Michael Chandler had been always touted as one of the best lightweights outside the UFC. He is a three-time Bellator lightweight champ. Moreover, he has a total of six title defenses across the three reigns. He has fought and defeated highly-touted names such as Benson Henderson, Eddie Alvarez, and Brent Primus.
Michael Chandler has officially signed with UFC, Dana White announced on @SportsCenter.
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) September 17, 2020
Chandler’s last fight ended with a win over Benson Henderson. Entering free agency, he showed interest in signing with PFL and ONE Championship. However, UFC was probably on the top of his possible landing spots.
UFC President Dana White had also talked positively about Chandler. In multiple press conferences, he reiterated that the promotion was in talks with him.
📝 @MikeChandlerMMA is headed to the Octagon.
— UFC (@ufc) September 17, 2020
The former champ will be entering a division which is one of the deepest as well as top-heavy. Fans had already expected a big name for his debut in the UFC. However, he may end up exceeding expectations by fighting for the UFC belt in his debut.
Michael Chandler will be the backup for Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Justin Gaethje
Dana White also dropped a big piece of news when he added that Michael Chandler will be a backup for the lightweight championship fight. UFC 254 will be headlined by Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Justin Gaethje. The former Bellator champion will be the replacement in case any one of them pulls out.
The news comes as a bit of a surprise for UFC fans. They were anticipating a fight between Tony Ferguson and Michael Chandler after Dustin Poirier didn’t sign on the dotted line. However, it seems that the UFC has bigger plans for the former Bellator champ.
Chandler told Brett Okamoto, via text, that his hard work has finally paid off.
“Eventually hard work pays off, you just have to still be standing there when it does. I’m humbled by the opportunity and can’t wait to go prove what I have been saying for the past 11 years; that I’m the best 155er in the world,” Chandler told Brett Okamoto of ESPN.
While Chandler has been a stellar performer in Bellator, it will now be clear how he fares in the studded UFC lightweight division.
Continue the conversation on the app, join other MMA fans on MMA Fans App
Engineer in the making. Sports enthusiast