Michael Chandler has officially signed with UFC and will serve as the back-up fighter for UFC 254: Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Justin Gaethje. Ahead of the potential match-up, there's a reason to believe that Michael Chandler could well be the biggest threat to Khabib Nurmagomedov, even more so than Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje and here's why.
The very reason we believe Tony Ferguson can dethrone Khabib Nurmagomedov is courtesy his incredible cardio and lethal submission game. Ferguson is both a solid striker and very good off his back on the ground.
On the other hand, Gaethje's knockout power at the Lightweight division and his wrestling credentials makes him an equally tough contender for the current and undisputed Lightweight Champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov. Be that as it may, there's an argument to be made for Michael Chandler as being the toughest opponent for Khabib Nurmagomedov to date.
What makes Michael Chandler dangerous?
Michael Chandler, like Justin Gaethje, is a reckless fighter. While taking nothing away from them, both Chandler and Gaethje likes to engage. They are not afraid to exchange strikes and have looked for a finish inside the octagon whenever they have stepped in.
Michael Chandler is coming off a brutal KO win over former UFC Lightweight Champion, Benson Henderson. In the process, he became the first fighter in over six years to get a stoppage win over the former Champion. Chandler is dangerous, and while a striker vs striker battle against the former two-time Bellator Lightweight Champion could go either way, Chandler is the perfect anti-dote for Khabib Nurmagomedov.
If we look at Tony Ferguson, El Cucuy likes to strike more than wrestle inside the octagon despite being an All American Division I wrestler. However, if the fight does go to ground, he is incredible off his back and has a 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu black belt to complement his ground game.
Michael Chandler is a step apart. Both Michael Chandler and Justin Gaethje are All American Division I wrestlers, however, Gaethje has never used his wrestling in his MMA career.
With zero takedowns in the UFC, it will be interesting to see Gaethje apply his wrestling game for the first time inside the UFC octagon against someone like Khabib Nurmagomedov. On the other side, Michael Chandler is a proper mix of someone we expect to see in Justin Gaethje in his fight against Khabib.
Michael Chandler mixes his game well. He likes to strike and has solid KO power in his hands, and has stoppage wins against Eddie Alvarez, Benson Henderson, Patricky Freire. Chandler is coming off back to back first-round KO wins. Additionally, Chandler has a solid submission game with seven of his 21 wins inside the octagon has been by forcing his opponents to tap out.
Michael Chandler is a fan fighter and likes to take his opponents down. He uses grappling and has never shied away from a striking battle. Chandler is quick and has solid cardio to complement his fighting style. Chandler's consistency in mixing his game gives him an edge over Gaethje, who would be applying his grappling skills for the first time in an MMA fight inside the UFC octagon.
It is Michael Chandler's ability to mix his game and bring both his lethal striking and his impeccable wrestling into the octagon which makes him a greater threat for the undisputed king of the Lightweight division Khabib Nurmagomedov.