Former Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler is excited for the possible matchups in the UFC should he sign with the promotion as a free agent.
Chandler, one of the greatest home-grown fighters in Bellator history, takes on Benson Henderson on Friday night in the main event of Bellator 243. It’s the last matchup on Chandler’s deal with Bellator, and he has admitted that he will be testing free agency after the bout. Depending on the outcome of the fight, Chandler could potentially be facing interest from the UFC, ONE Championship, and PFL in his foray into free agency.
Speaking to MMAFighting.com’s Damon Martin, Chandler admitted that while he is focused on fighting and defeating Henderson, he can’t help but be excited about testing free agency. He says that if he signs with the UFC, he already has his eyes set on a few opponents.
“I’m excited about the possibilities. We know all my different possibilities. Fighting in the UFC and fighting [Justin] Gaethje and I know I could be the guy that could go out there and beat Khabib [Nurmagomedov]. Fighting a Conor [McGregor], fighting these guys,” Chandler said.
The UFC has signed two other previous Bellator lightweight champions. Eddie Alvarez was signed by the promotion and ended up winning the UFC lightweight title when he knocked out Rafael dos Anjos. Will Brooks also signed with the UFC, but he struggled to catch his stride inside the Octagon and ultimately found himself released. Chandler, though, is hoping to be me more like Alvarez and less like Brooks should he sign with the UFC.
Speaking of Alvarez, Chandler has not written off the possibility of a trilogy fight against his long-time rival. The pair are 1-1 in their previous two fights, and with Alvarez now starring for ONE Championship, there is always the possibility Chandler could join him there and the two could fight for the third time to decide once and for all who the better fighter is. He also mentioned PFL, with the allure of the million-dollar tournament, as a potential landing spot.
“Then there’s the possibility of finishing the trilogy with Eddie [Alvarez]. ONE FC is doing some amazing stuff. They’re coming back and growing and putting on great shows. Then you’ve got the PFL tournament where you win a million dollars fighting in a tournament. There’s a lot of awesome possibilities but it doesn’t change the fact that the main focus of my life right now is staying healthy to get to Aug. 7 and then putting on a great performance just like I always do,” Chandler said.
Where do you want Michael Chandler to fight next?