The UFC’s M.O. has always been to ensure that the best fight the best – boxing-style ducking matches is avoided, and for the most part – with the odd exception – the fighters on the UFC’s roster face whoever they’re told to by the UFC’s power-brokers.
The problem with that, of course, is that not all of the best fighters ply their trade in the UFC. With rival promotions like Bellator, ONE FC and the PFL capitalising on free agency and signing some of the world’s top fighters, the UFC can’t always make the best possible matches.
All contracts end eventually though, and with the UFC still the big dog in the MMA yard, no fighter is truly out of reach for them. Here are 5 top fighters outside the promotion that the UFC should look to add to their roster when they get the chance.
#1 Michael Chandler
The reigning Bellator Lightweight champion, Michael Chandler has had opportunities to head to the UFC in the past on a number of occasions but has always chosen to re-sign with Bellator, where he’s been one of the promotion’s poster-boys since 2011. Next time they have an opportunity though, the UFC should make Chandler an offer he can’t refuse.
Would Chandler be a title threat in the UFC? I’m not so sure, as 155lbs is the most stacked division in the UFC and with so many talented fighters around, it’s hard to truly make a mark – as former Bellator champ Will Brooks found out – but he’d undoubtedly add a lot of excitement to the proceedings.
Chandler is a great wrestler, hits like a truck, and he’s got a strong grappling game too, as evidenced by his nicely rounded record – 19 wins, 7 by KO, 7 by submission and 5 by decision. He’s also very willing to brawl it out with his opponent, as evidenced by his classic fights with Eddie Alvarez, as well as his fantastic fights with the likes of Patricky Freire and Dave Rickels.
Essentially, by signing Chandler, the UFC would add another exciting fighter to an already-packed division. You simply can’t tell me that fights between Chandler and the likes of Justin Gaethje, Al Iaquinta and Dustin Poirier wouldn’t guarantee fireworks – and that’s reason enough to bring him aboard.