As we now know, former Bellator lightweight champion, Michael Chandler has recently signed with the UFC. Added to the shark tank that is the UFC’s 155lbs division, there is no lack of potential opponents for Chandler. We take a look at some of the possibilities as to who could welcome Michael Chandler to the UFC.
View this post on Instagram
Humbled by the opportunity. – Galvanized by the road we took. – Can’t wait to put on a show for you guys. – To my fans, thank you for being with me on this journey. – And if you just started with us…pull your hat down tight because we only know one speed! – See you at the top! – 📸: @brwlrz
Determining Chandler’s Ranking
As we know, the UFC rankings are somewhat dubious. They simply don’t seem to make an awful lot of sense but are largely used to hype fights up. By saying it is ‘the number 1 ranked guy, facing the number 2’ crosses over to a mainstream audience. Despite this, they do have the rankings system. What we have to ask then is where Chandler fits in?
UFC president, Dana White is clearly high on Michael Chandler, naming him as ‘back-up’ for the UFC 254 main event. The reason for this is that he has one loss since his back to back losses in 2014 (on paper he has two, but his Bellator NYC loss to Brett Primus was a mess). With a record of 21-5 and with wins over a number of respected names, it is clear Chandler has the skills to compete with those in the UFC.
There are plenty of options in the top 10 of the UFC’s 155lbs division, all of whom are on fire as of late. From 10-6 we have, Kevin Lee (#10), Al Iaquinta (#9), Diego Ferreira (#8), Paul Felder (#7) and Charles Oliveira (#6). Any (and all) of these match-ups make sense. Don’t expect to see either Lee or Iaquinta get the call, however. Lee is a disappointing 2-4 in his last six and recently lost to Oliveria. Iaquinta, having heroically filled in in the main event of UFC 223 is on a two-fight skid and hasn’t hinted at a return since his last bout in October 2019.
In addition to this, Chandler is a fairly big name in the realms of MMA, whereas (unfortunately for him), Diego Ferreira isn’t. Ferreira is also scheduled to fight Drew Dober in November.
That leaves us with Paul Felder and Charles Oliveria. Both of these fights make a lot of sense. Both would provide Chandler with different looks, with Felder preferring it on the feet and Oliveria being a submission machine. It’s also a fight that both men would seemingly want, with Felder hinting at it on his Instagram. Despite dropping his last fight to Dan Hooker, Felder is still well regarded at 155lbs as one of the toughest in the division.
‘Do Bronx’ was scheduled to face Beneil Dariush on Fight Island, however, the Brazilian had to withdraw. If this one isn’t rebooked, Chandler could slot in to face Oliveira. Riding a seven-fight winning run, all of which have been via finish, Oliveira is a top contender at 155lbs. With a win over the Brazilian, Chandler could cement his place in the top 5.
As we know at UFC 254 the lightweight title will be on the line. Champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov will take on the interim champion, Justin Gaethje. Gaethje himself was a champion in another organisation, WSOF. When making his debut, he faced (at the time) #5 Michael Johnson.
The current top five includes Conor McGregor at #5, #4 Dan Hooker, #3 Tony Ferguson, Dustin Poirier at #2 and of course, Gaethje at #1.
Let’s rule out McGregor as it seems as though he is hinting at a fight with Poirier. Ferguson and Poirier were heavily linked to be competing against each other at UFC 254. Unfortunately, that won’t be going ahead, at that event at least. That means the fight to make (if Michael Chandler is going to be matched against a top 5 guy) is against Dan Hooker. What a fight that would be. Hooker’s fight with Felder was an instant classic, not to mention his recent loss to Poirier being a phenomenal war also.
Hooker also seems to be interested in the fight. Speaking to Submission Radio recently, Hooker stated:
I would love to be the guy to welcomes him to the UFC, knees his chin off, sends him back to the B-Leagues
Please UFC, if you love your fans, make this fight. It would provide a top-quality war, with Hooker and Chandler always coming to fight. The benefits for the fight from Chandler’s point of view is that a win over Hooker would slot him straight into the top 5 and potentially in the title question. For Hooker, a win would provide a bounce back from his most recent loss, a win over a respected lightweight and he would be able to steal Chandler’s hype.
What we do know for sure? Chandler has a number of options for his debut, all of which are exciting.
Embed from Getty Images