Michael Chandler came into the UFC with all guns blazing after a remarkable debut against Dan Hooker at UFC 257. The three-time former Bellator champ defeated a tough and gritty opponent in Hooker when he sent him to the canvas in the first round of their fight.
Chandler delivered a strong message to his fellow lightweight competitors after making his presence felt with a spectacular debut. His win over Hooker propelled him to No.4 in the divisional rankings, and Chandler has now set his eyes set on the lightweight title which currently belongs to Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Chandler, who is already in the mix of title contenders, is not too far off from having a crack at the UFC gold. Surprisingly enough, he may well fight for the lightweight championship only in his second fight.
In this article, we will take a look at three most logical next opponents that Chandler could fight in the UFC.
#1 Michael Chandler vs. Justin Gaethje
Justin Gaethje fought Khabib Nurmagomedov in his last outing at UFC 254 where he got submitted by 'The Eagle' in the second round. Gaethje had established himself as one of the toughest challenges for Nurmagomedov with a fantastic victory over Tony Ferguson that snapped 'El Cucuy's' 12-fight win streak.
The 32-year-old is still ranked No.2 in the lightweight division, and will be hoping to get back into the win column. One of his next potential opponents could be Michael Chandler, who has burst into the top five of the 155-pound division.
Gaethje and Chandler are both eager to get their hands on the lightweight championship, and a win for either fighter could possibly make that happen. According to Gaethje, he needs to win one more fight in order to lay a claim to the title. The Highlight had stated that no fighter should be given a chance to fight for the title when coming off a loss.
#2 Michael Chandler vs. Tony Ferguson
Michael Chandler was reportedly offered a fight against Tony Ferguson scheduled for UFC 255 PPV in November last year. However, Chandler brushed aside the idea of fighting Ferguson since he went through a weight cut just a month before at UFC 254 while serving as a backup fighter for the main event.
Chandler and Ferguson exchanged harsh words on social media after El Cucuy called him out for not taking up the fight. The Tennessee-based fighter could have a chance to settle his dues with Ferguson if he agrees to fight him.
Although Ferguson is positioned one place below Chandler in the lightweight rankings, he could still be an attractive opponent for him. A potential win over Ferguson will certainly find Chandler spearheading the lightweight title contention queue.
#3 Michael Chandler vs. Charles Oliveira
Charles Oliveira's eight-fight win streak has made him one of the favorites to fight for the lightweight championship. His dominant win over Tony Ferguson etched his name in the minds of MMA fans all over the world, and it is possible that his next fight could be for the lightweight title.
However, considering that Dustin Poirier is keen on fighting Conor McGregor for the third time, Charles Oliveira doesn't have too many options in front of him since he only wishes to compete in a title fight.
With Justin Gaethje coming off a loss, Michael Chandler is the only name left in the top five for Oliveira to challenge. According to Poirier himself, he would not mind seeing Michael Chandler and Charles Oliveira battle it out for the lightweight title.