Former interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson could end up fighting former Bellator lightweight world champion Michael Chandler at UFC 254.
The news was first reported by Ariel Helwani of ESPN.
The move came after the talks about the fight between Dustin Poirier and Tony Ferguson fell off over financial reasons. However, a replacement fighter in Michael Chandler could certainly create a lot of buzz.
Michael Chandler last fought against Benson Henderson at Bellator 243, where he won by knockout.
Per @arielhelwani, UFC is the front-runner to sign free agent Michael Chandler, who has "been discussed" as a potential opponent for Tony Ferguson. pic.twitter.com/LBved7TTL1
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) September 16, 2020
“One name that has been discussed is free agent Michael Chandler, the former Bellator lightweight champion who fought out his contract in early August. The UFC is in advanced talks with Chandler, per sources, and is the front-runner to sign him, though a deal isn’t finalized just yet,” Ariel Helwani wrote on ESPN.
Even UFC president Dana White had confirmed that the talks to sign Michael Chandler is ongoing.
“We’ve talked to (Michael) Chandler, yeah,” White said. “Yeah, I like him, I like the kid so, we’ll see.”
Why didn’t Bellator re-sign Michael Chandler?
Michael Chandler is one of the biggest names in Bellator and it was surprising that Scott Coker didn’t go out of his way to sign him. Last month in an interview with Mike Heck of MMAFighting, he explained how the negotiations with Bellator went.
“There is an exclusive negotiation period. Ours is short, and you can also get it waved,” Chandler stated. “At this point, not that I’m not here to negotiate with Bellator, but as I’ve said before, I like the idea of going to ONE FC, finishing the trilogy with Eddie and fighting across the world. I love the idea of fighting all the top-10 guys in the UFC, I love the idea of staying with Bellator for the next 10 fights, getting a job behind the mic and being the most decorated Bellator fighter of all-time.
“But Scott Coker had the opportunity to sign me five months ago, six months ago, four months ago before this fight happened, and it didn’t happen. So there’s not a huge time that we need to sit here and negotiate, Scott. You had the opportunity, you let me go into free agency. You said I’m not 21 years old anymore but I just finished the best lightweight you have on the roster besides me. I don’t really understand why it needs to be any longer than right now. Let me see what I’m worth.
“What will ONE FC offer me? What will PFL, the UFC offer me? Maybe Dana thinks I suck. Maybe Chatri’s like, “Maybe that trilogy with Eddie sounds cool, but we don’t want to pay you that much.’ Maybe that’s the case. I doubt it, but let me go see what I’m worth.” (H/T – MMAFighting)
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