Michael Chandler signs with UFC, Potential backup for Khabib and Gaethje at UFC 254

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Dana White announced that UFC has finally signed former Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler and that he would be serving as a backup for UFC 254 main event.

UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov (28-0) is scheduled to defend his title against interim champion Justin Gaethje (22-2) at UFC 254 on Fight Island.

The hottest free agent Michael Chandler is in UFC

Michael Chandler became a free agent after scoring a first-round knockout victory over former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson at Bellator 243 this summer. While he expressed interest in signing with both the PFL and ONE Championship, it was clear that he was also very excited about a potential move to the UFC.

After his signing was announced, Chandler told ESPN: “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 year: that I’m the best lightweight in the world.”

Chandler fought for Strikeforce in 2009-2010, then went to Bellator, where he spent nearly ten-years. He won the lightweight title in 2011 against Eddie Alvarez but lost it to him in a rematch in 2013. That split decision started a three-fight slide that included two attempts to get the belt back against Will Brooks.

In 2016, he beat Patricky Freire to win the then-vacant title. He lost it to Brent Primus in 2017 but beat Primus in a rematch to get it back and become a three-time champion. But in his first defense, he lost it to Patricio Freire, who was featherweight champion at the time, in May 2019.

Nurmagomedov will be fighting for the first time in more than a year and for the first time since the death of his father, who also served as his coach. In September 2019, he beat the interim champ, Dustin Poirier, in a title unification bout in Abu Dhabi. Former WSOF champ Gaethje came to the UFC in 2017 and promptly picked up a double bonus for a knockout of Michael Johnson.

But then he lost the first two fights of his career, both by knockout, to Alvarez and Poirier. Since then, though, he has rebounded with four straight knockout wins against James Vick, Edson Barboza, Donald Cerrone, and, most recently, Tony Ferguson to win the interim lightweight belt.

Michael Chandler now becomes the part of the most dangerous and stacked division in UFC filled with killers. He’ll now join the division that includes not only Nurmagomedov and Gaethje, but Dustin Poirier, Tony Ferguson, Conor McGregor, Dan Hooker, Charles Oliveira, and Paul Felder, among many others.

Michael Chandler though being one of the best lightweights in the world will have to prove his worth in the UFC.

How do you guys think will Chandler perform in the UFC and who should be his first opponent?

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