Former Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler is set to make his octagon debut on Fight Island at UFC 257.
Chandler’s promotional debut will be a three-round co-main event bout against City Kickboxing product and number six ranked lightweight Dan Hooker.
Many fans are looking at Chandler as an anomaly, not knowing what to expect from the UFC newcomer ahead of his first fight in the promotion.
But those who know the sport well have seen time and time again that Chandler is a proven commodity whose accolades speak for themselves.
A three-time Bellator world champion in the lightweight division, with victories over former UFC lightweight champions Eddie Alvarez and Benson Henderson, Chandler is not to be overlooked.
However, despite his credentials, and despite the fact that he deserves recognition for his accomplishments in the sport, albeit not with the UFC, plenty of casual fans are looking at the card asking who Chandler is.
“The hardcore fans know exactly who I am,” Chandler said. “The hardcore fans, quite frankly, know that I deserve to be at the top of this lightweight division.”
Chandler also acknowledged the lack of incentive for top ranked lightweights to introduce him to the octagon.
As a newcomer without a number next to his name, a fight against Chandler poses a small reward with a high risk. A loss to Chandler would create far more uncertainty than a loss to Charles Oliveira or Justin Gaethje due to their rank in the division.
“To the average guy, or even to these guys in the UFC, nobody wanted to be the first guy to dip their toe in the water and challenge me,” Chandler said. “I commend Dan Hooker for stepping up and saying yes.”
With a dance partner for fight night, and the fact that he’s fighting underneath the biggest pay-per-view draw in mixed martial arts, he knows he has a perfect opportunity to make his name known worldwide.
“To be the co-main event on what could be the biggest card of the year for my first fight in the UFC and fighting a top five opponent,” Chandler said. “The only thing bigger than being in the co-main event on a Conor McGregor pay-per-view is actually being in the cage with Conor McGregor on a pay-per-view.”
Evidently, Chandler has some solid foresight for a “newcomer.”
“When things go well on Saturday night, that could be what’s next.”
Welcome to the UFC, Michael Chandler.
Flashback > The first Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier face-off
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