It’s something mixed martial arts fans have wanted to see for years.
After a decade of competing against the best lightweights in Bellator MMA, veteran 155-pounder Michael Chandler has signed with the UFC, Dana White officially announced on ESPN Thursday.
It’s unclear exactly when Chandler will make his UFC debut and against whom, however he is expected to serve as a potential backup opponent for the upcoming lightweight title fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje.
That championship bout is scheduled for UFC 254 on Oct. 25 at the Flash Forum in Abu Dhabi and White explained Chandler will travel to the UFC’s Fight Island where he will make weight in case either Nurmagomedov or Gaethje are unable to compete and a last-minute opponent switch is required.
Chandler (21-5) was a three-time lightweight champion in Bellator where he debuted in September of 2010. He earned notable stoppage wins over former UFC champions Eddie Alvarez and Benson Henderson in the Bellator cage but lost the title to Patricio Freire at Bellator 221 in May of 2019.
The 34-year-old has long been considered one of the top lightweights in the sport despite not always facing the toughest competition.
“I’m humbled by the opportunity and can’t wait to go prove what I have been saying for the past 11 years, that I’m the best lightweight in the world,” Chandler told ESPN.
Current UFC lightweight rankings:
Champion: Khabib Nurmagomedov
1. Justin Gaethje (interim champion)
2. Dustin Poirier
3. Tony Ferguson
4. Conor McGregor
5. Dan Hooker
6. Charles Oliveira
7. Paul Felder
8. Diego Ferreira
9. Al Iaquinta
10. Kevin Lee
11. Beneil Dariush
12. Islam Makhachev
13. Gregor Gillespie
14. Donald Cerrone
15. Drew Dober