Who Will Michael Chandler Face as His First Opponent in the UFC?

Michael Chandler
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - OCTOBER 20: Michael Chandler poses for a portrait on Yas Beach on October 20, 2020 on UFC Fight Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Juan Cardenas/Zuffa LLC)

At 34 years of age, Michael Chandler signed a contract with the Ultimate Fighting Championship. The deal was struck on the 17th of September 2020 and his first role was as a backup for a title bout between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje at UFC 254. Chandler was not required at the event and is still waiting to make his debut in the UFC at the time of writing.

Having been voted the Most Valuable Wrestler during his senior season at the Missouri State High School Wrestling Championships, Chandler was selected for the All-St. Louis Team and so a promising career began. Chandler joined the wrestling squad at the University of Missouri and majored in personal finance management services with a minor in real estate. However, he stood out as a wrestler, claiming over 100 career wins, and becoming a four-time NCAA Division I qualifier.

Moving into mixed martial arts and Chandler joined Strikeforce before making his Bellator debut in September 2010, at Bellator 31. It was the beginning of a hugely successful time for Chandler, who won the Bellator Lightweight World Championship by defeating defending champion, Eddie Alvarez via submission. During his time with Bellator, Chandler enjoyed three reigns as world champion and having claimed victory at Bellator 243 in August 2020, the American became a free agent and signed for the UFC.

It is an exciting time in Chandler’s career as he awaits news of his first UFC opponent. Having been expected to fight Tony Ferguson at UFC 256, the weight cut to be standby for the Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Justin Gaethje made it difficult for that to happen. UFC president Dana White said, “The problem with Michael Chandler right now is he stepped up for that [Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Justin Gaethje] fight and he cut weight, so he can’t turn around as fast as these other guys can right now.” White added, “We can’t do that to him. So, no hurry, take his time, get his body back together. We’ll get him something soon.”

Chandler recently took to Instagram and said, “Locked and loaded. Camp number 28 starts today. – See you at the top!” So, it appears as though he is primed to make his UFC debut soon. With Ferguson set to take on Charles Oliveira, Chandler is expected to meet either Justin Gaethje or Dan Hooker for his debut.

If you are interested in backing Chandler at the bookies, you will find plenty of special offers and promotions available here. Chandler has long been considered one of the best fighters outside the UFC and it will be interesting to see how he performs on debut. At the end of September 2020, ESPN ranked Chandler as the number 7 lightweight in the world and he will be keen to improve on that rating. Having trained with a lot of UFC fighters over the years, Chandler should be well prepared but there are fears from some he may be too small for the division.

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