Ariel Helwani had an interesting comparison for new UFC lightweight contender Michael Chandler.
On the latest episode of DC & Helwani, the veteran MMA journalist and former two-division UFC world champion Daniel Cormier talked about the current situation in the UFC's lightweight division.
Helwani noted that Chandler's arrival into the UFC is similar to that of former WWE champion and Olympic gold medalist Kurt Angle.
"I sort of feel like Michael Chandler is debuting…this is shades of Kurt Angle in 1999. He’s clean-cut, he’s good looking, he’s got the perfect physique, I feel like he’s kind of a heel right now, because he enters the company as the back-up of a title fight, that no one thought made a lot of sense, then you have [Rafael dos Anjos] campaigning for him and he’s like ‘Nah, nah nah nah nah.’ Now you have Tony Ferguson…is Michael Chandler a heel?"
Kurt Angle transitioned into professional wrestling following a highly-successful career as an amateur wrestler. When Angle debuted in the WWE, he was packaged as a heel that portrayed an "All-American hero" character.
Cormier chimed in, saying that pro wrestling, fans often boo the 'perfect' characters.
"When they’re perfect, it makes you want to boo the guy, right? So right now, Michael Chandler is no-selling everybody. You know what would be great? If Michael Chandler just ends up in a title fight! The next thing you know, he’s in an interim title fight or he’s in the lightweight title fight." Cormier added.
Chandler, the former Bellator lightweight champion, has yet to officially debut in the UFC, but he has already been the topic of a number of call-outs.
Last week, former champion Rafael dos Anjos invited Chandler to step in and replace Islam Makhachev in the main event of UFC Vegas 14. Chandler refused the offer, stating he had 'other plans'.
Earlier this week, Tony Ferguson also began calling Chandler out, angling for a fight at UFC 256 in December.
Michael Chandler, as Cormier stated, has not been responding to any of these call-outs.
Cormier added that if people do end up disliking Chandler, then he should fully embrace the 'heat' so to speak.
"That would just be the greatest thing in the world, because it would make people just dislike him, and if I’m Chandler, I’m just steering right into it. I mean, if all that hate is off to the left, I’m just turning my car as hard left as I can and I’m going right into the hate, because, like you said, on the surface he seems to do everything right. He trains hard, he looks good, he’s physically strong, but it almost seems as though, right now, coming in the way that he did, it’s almost like the silver platter is getting handed to him, cause how does a guy that’s about to make his debut have that much say or no-say in terms of responding to dudes that have been here for years? They can’t get him to at least acknowledge them. It’s crazy to watch."
Is Michael Chandler the UFC's version of John Cena?
Going back on his initial Kurt Angle comparison, Helwani heeded his producer's suggestion and compared Michael Chandler to another former WWE champion in John Cena.
"Or maybe he’s John Cena? Early days-John Cena, he’s so perfect that everyone turns on the guy? Because I feel like he’s just so perfect, but yet, how do you not respond to Ferguson?"
During the peak of his popularity in the WWE, many people began to turn on John Cena because of the way he was booked as a nearly unbeatable superhero-like face.
Like Cena, Michael Chandler has the makings of a promotional poster-boy, but already, UFC fans seem like they're turning on the lightweight star.
Watch the whole discussion below:
We have a very happening MMA page on Facebook. Click here to join!