The UFC's new toy Michael Chandler is one of the toughest guys around. But the 10th ranked lightweight, Kevin Lee isn't sold on him just yet. And while Dana White picks and chooses who can and can't jump the queue, he's decided this new toy will jump right to the top.
And you can rest assured Kevin Lee isn't the only 155 fighter raising an eyebrow to this. Especially with the Dustin Poirier Tony Ferguson fight falling apart. "El Cucuy" is always in fight shape and once the fight with "Diamond" collapsed, he should have been given the honor.
But as far as Kevin Lee is concerned, the fact they signed Michael Chandler isn't shocking. In speaking with FightNation, Mo-Town had this to say:
"It seemed like he was getting over Bellator and he's a competitor so he probably wanted to test himself. But the fact they're trying to make him the backup for Gaethje vs Khabib, I don't get that. I think that's a way for them to s**t on Bellator again, you know. It's like, OK let's throw him in with Khabib right out of the gate so Khabib can whoop his ass and now I can s**t on Scott Coker just a little bit more and make him look a little worse".
Kevin likes Michael Chandler a lot and gave him a lot of props, but the fact remains he isn't in his mid 20's. He's 34. Patricio Freire wrecked him in the 1st round of their fight before "Iron Mike" finished his Bellator run with two first round finishes of his own.
Michael Chandler's wrestling is far above average, and he has pop in both hands. Other points that Kevin Lee brought up was his size compared to the top-ranked UFC fighters, and that the lights are just so much brighter in the UFC. Lest we forget, Justin Gaethje himself came into the organization an undefeated champion (for WSOF), and it took him time to get used to the higher level.
And Kevin Lee himself knows about the added pressures. Since he lost to Tony Ferguson for the interim lightweight title, he's gone 2-3 and torn up both knees. Kevin then mentioned that if Michael Chandler does have to step in he may stand a chance against Justin.
The target list for Michael Chandler's octagon debut opponent is interesting. Tony and Dustin would be there, as would Dan Hooker. But there's a much bigger fish out there if you read between the words out of Dana White's mouth. He said (albeit before the signing of Michael Chandler); that he had something big in mind for Conor McGregor. Yes, the trilogy against Nate Diaz, will always be there. But what if January 2021, the UFC is finally allowed to have a small attendance in a venue, and its main event is Conor McGregor versus Michael Chandler. That would start the year off in explosive fashion.