UFC President Dana White announced that the promotion has signed former two-time Bellator Lightweight Champion Michael Chandler. Ahead of the official signing, White also revealed that Chandler would serve as the back-up for Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Justin Gaethje at UFC 254.
After Dustin Poirier announced his decision to withdraw from the Tony Ferguson fight, speculations were rife that Michael Chandler would take on El Cucuy next. However, that won't be the case. In the recently concluded UFC Vegas 11 press-conference, Dana White revealed that Chandler won't be on the UFC 254 card and will only fight in case Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Justin Gaethje falls apart.
At the moment, there has been no confirmation about Chandler's UFC debut. Michael Chandler's addition to the UFC Lightweight division brings a lot of interesting match-ups to the mix.
Who should Michael Chandler face in his UFC debut?
There are a lot of interesting options for Michael Chandler. While both Tony Ferguson and Dustin Poirier have expressed their interest in fighting each other, there's a reason to believe that Michael Chandler could have either Poirier or Ferguson as his next opponent, in case Ferguson vs Poirier doesn't come to fruition.
Interestingly enough, Dustin Poirier was offered to fight Michael Chandler at UFC 254. However, Poirier declined the fight once again after failing to come to terms with the company.
Additionally, Poirier's decision to withdraw from the Chandler fight had a lot to do with his loyalty towards Ferguson, who had advocated for better pay for Poirier on social media, going to the length of urging Dana White "to pay the Man."
It won't be wrong to say that both Dustin Poirier and Tony Ferguson are bad match-ups for Michael Chandler. With notable victories over Benson Henderson and Eddie Alvarez, Chandler had made a name for himself in the MMA world despite never stepping foot inside the UFC octagon.
It is reasonable to say that it's unfair to put Michael Chandler in a title eliminator in just his first fight for the UFC. Justin Gaethje took on UFC veteran Michael Johnson in his UFC debut before moving to fight the likes of Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier.
UFC should be looking at something similar for Michael Chandler, instead of putting him in a title eliminator against the top-ranked Lightweights of the world in the form of Dustin Poirier and Tony Ferguson.
UFC could look to book Michael Chandler vs Dan Hooker. The British fighter put up an impressive performance against Dustin Poirier. Hooker is currently ranked No.5 in the UFC Lightweight rankings and is a perfect test for Chandler for his UFC debut. Another interesting option is Paul Felder, who narrowly missed out on a victory in his last fight against Dan Hooker via split decision.
Both Paul Felder and Dan Hooker engaged each other in five rounds of war early this year, with Hangman emerging victorious via split decision. While Dan Hooker proved his mettle against former interim Champion Dustin Poirier, Paul Felder is a UFC veteran in his own right.
Paul Felder is a prolific fighter, having earned a name for himself as a UFC commenator and analyst as well. On the other hand, Dan Hooker sent a statement against Poirier that deserves in the top-league of the UFC Lightweight division with an impressive performance. Both the fighters are experienced and will be a hurdle for Michael Chandler. However, If Chandler can get past either Hooker or Felder in his UFC debut, it would propel him for a future title shot at the UFC Lightweight division.Published 21 Sep 2020, 06:38 IST