A newly signed UFC fighter could get an immediate title shot next month at UFC 254. According to ESPN, Michael Chandler signed with the company on Thursday and will serve as the backup fighter for the main event matchup at UFC 254 between lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and interim champion Justin Gaethje.
Per ESPN, “Michael Chandler has officially signed with UFC, Dana White announced on
@SportsCenter. Chandler will serve as a backup fighter for the #UFC254 main event between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje.”
Michael Chandler has officially signed with UFC, Dana White announced on @SportsCenter.
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) September 17, 2020
3-Time Bellator Champ Stands Ready for UFC Title Shot
Chandler was the hottest MMA free agent on the market this year. The 34-year-old American is a 3-time Bellator lightweight champion and should now be a major player in the UFC’s stacked 155-pound division going forward.
But Chandler might even find himself sliding into a chance for UFC gold in his very first fight with the company.
UFC 254: Nurmagomedov vs. Gaethje is scheduled for October 24 on UFC Fight Island in Abu Dhabi.
If either of those two fighters can’t make it into their main event battle for the undisputed lightweight championship, ESPN reports that Chandler will be ready to fight and already approved by UFC brass to jump over the long line of contenders at 155 and move straight into a title shot against either Nurmagomedov or Gaethje.
Watch Chandler’s Final Bellator KO Below
Chandler stopped Benson Henderson in the first round of the main event at Bellator 243 last month at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut.
You can watch Chandler’s stunning knockout over Henderson below.
The left hand put Benson Henderson down and then @MikeChandlerMMA finished it from there 😤
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) August 8, 2020
Chandler Ready for UFC Run
Now, Chandler hopes to bring that same level of success into the UFC.
Per ESPN’s Marc Raimondi, Chandler’s impressive knockout in his final Bellator fight put the fighter in a perfect position to negotiate with the UFC.
“Chandler has made it clear that he will test his value on the open market after this fight–and the huge finish raised his stock considerably. Henderson had been stopped only one other time in his career, a 2014 knockout loss in the UFC to Rafael dos Anjos,” Raimondi wrote.
That’s proved to be true today as Chandler now stands among his peers in the UFC’s 155-pound ranks as one of the division’s top competitors.
You can watch more highlights from Chandler’s excellent MMA career below.
Chandler is 21-5 across all promotions.
Immediate Title Shot Not Common
If Chandler does end up getting the immediate title shot at UFC 254 next month, ESPN’s Ariel Helwani noted how rare an occurrence that would be.
Helwani posted, “If Michael Chandler ends up fighting for the belt in his debut, it will be very unique. Last male fighter to fight for the belt in his UFC debut: Joe Soto @ 177. But that was late replacement. Prior to that, it was Melendez, Cruz and Aldo. But they fought for orgs owned by UFC.”
If Michael Chandler ends up fighting for the belt in his debut, it will be very unique.
Last male fighter to fight for the belt in his UFC debut: Joe Soto @ 177. But that was late replacement.
Prior to that, it was Melendez, Cruz and Aldo. But they fought for orgs owned by UFC.
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) September 17, 2020
Regardless, adding Chandler to the mix of an already deep division will give the UFC the ability to keep making incredible fights at 155 for the foreseeable future.
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