Former Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler has officially signed with the UFC, and has already been tapped as an understudy for the UFC 254 main event.
UFC 254 will be headlined by a lightweight title fight between undefeated champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and interim champion Justin Gaethje. Should either man fail to make it into the cage, Chandler will be called upon to replace them.
UFC President Dana White announced this exciting news on SportsCenter on Thursday
UFC signs Michael Chandler, per Dana White on @SportsCenter. He will be the backup for Khabib vs. Gaethje in October. Huge news. And happy for Chandler. He was always grateful and happy at Bellator, but he’s wanted to face UFC lightweights for a long time.
— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) September 17, 2020
Dana White just announced on SportsCenter the UFC has signed Michael Chandler to serve as a backup for Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Justin Gaethje at #UFC254
— Nolan King (@mma_kings) September 17, 2020
Michael Chandler became a free agent after scoring a first-round knockout victory over former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson at Bellator 243 this summer. While he expressed interest in signing with both the PFL and ONE Championship, it was clear that he was also very excited about a potential move to the UFC.
White was similarly interested in bringing the former Bellator champion into the fold.
I didn’t know this, but they told me that he said he wanted to meet,” White said at the UFC 252 post-fight press conference. “And I said I’d love to meet with him. That guy has earned it and, yeah, would love to talk to him.”
Over the course of his impressive MMA career, Chandler has picked up wins over the likes of Henderson (twice), Brent Primus, Brandon Girtz, Goiti Yamauchi, Patricky Freire (twice), David Rickels (twice), Derek Campos, Akihiro Gono, Eddie Alvarez, and Marcin Held.
How do you think Michael Chandler will perform in the UFC?