Chandler joined the promotion in September and was immediately announced as back-up for the lightweight unification fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje at UFC 254. The 34-year-old traveled to Abu Dhabi but was thankfully not needed on October 24 as both Khabib and Gaethje made it to fight night.
Now that his back-up role is over Chandler is determined to make his UFC debut sooner rather than later. Speaking on the latest episode of the UFC Unfiltered podcast he expressed a desire to fight the very best fighters straight away, he said.
“Tony Ferguson, Justin Gaethje would be number one and number two of the guys I want to fight. 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.”
Chandler thinks his achievements in Bellator have earned him an immediate shot at one of the top five UFC lightweight fighters.
“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.” (Transcribed by MMA Fighting)
Who do you want to see Michael Chandler fight in his UFC debut?