MMA Ratings Podcast

September 18, 2020

UFC: Michael Chandler Is Looking For A Fight -- Here Are Five Possibilities For His Octagon Debut

By Adam Martin

This week, the UFC announced that it signed prized free agent lightweight Michael Chandler to an exclusive contract. Chandler, a former three-time champion in Bellator MMA as well as a Strikeforce veteran, was a highly sought after free agent after back-to-back KO wins over Sidney Outlaw and Benson Henderson. The UFC was so impressed with Chandler that it even booked him as the backup for the UFC 254 lightweight title fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje. But there is no guarantee that Chandler will actually get to fight that night. So let's take a look at potential opponents for Michael Chandler in his UFC debut:

Khabib Nurmagomedov or Justin Gaethje

These two are due to unify the lightweight title at UFC 254, and hopefully nothing happens to either guy, because this is the fight the fans want to see. Should something happen, however, Chandler will be the man stepping in to fight either guy. No matter if it’s Nurmagomedov or Gaethje, either guy would be a tough fight for Chandler. And if he wants to be considered the best in the world, he will have to beat at least one of these men. So why not start at the top?

Tony Ferguson

After the Ferguson vs. Dustin Poirier fight fell through, there were rumors that Chandler would step in to face Ferguson at UFC 254. That won’t be the case, though, as Dana White said Ferguson is not fighting on the card. But there’s no reason we can’t see Ferguson vs. Chandler in the near future. Ferguson is one of the best lightweights in UFC history, and if Chandler could knock him off in his UFC debut, that would send a massive message about just how good Chandler truly is.

Dustin Poirier

If Ferguson isn’t available, then Poirier would also be an amazing dream opponent for Chandler in his Octagon debut. Poirier is also one of the best lightweights ever, and he’s at the top of his game right now after beating Dan Hooker in an epic fight his last time out. Poirier is right there at the top of the lightweight division, and Chandler would gain a lot of respect from UFC fans if he was not only able to have a competitive fight with Poirier, but defeat him.

Paul Felder

Usually, when the UFC signs fighters from Bellator it matches them up with mid-tier opponents. For example, Will Brooks (who has two wins over Chandler) fought Ross Pearson in his UFC debut, Eddie Alvarez (who is 1-1 with Chandler) fought Donald Cerrone, and Hector Lombard fought Tim Boetsch. A guy like Felder who is still a top-10 fighter would make a lot of sense for Chandler. There are a lot of guys who are already in the UFC grinding to get top-five opponents, and Felder is one of them. This would be a guaranteed “Fight of the Night” between two well-rounded lightweights and the winner would be near the Top 5 in the UFC lightweight division.

Beneil Dariush

As another dark horse opponent, what about Dariush? The veteran lightweight is on a five-fight win streak and has been finishing every opponent in his sight lately. Dariush was supposed to take on Charles Oliveira in October, but the fight fell through after Oliveira pulled out. Dariush is a top-15 lightweight who always gives opponents a tough fight, and if Chandler could face him and finish him, it would give a lot of credibility to the former Bellator lightweight champion.

If you match Chandler up against anyone in the Top 15 of the UFC lightweight division, you're almost guaranteed an action-packed fight. This is one of the best signings the UFC has made in years.

Who do you want Michael Chandler to fight in his UFC debut? Tell us in the comments below.

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