UFC president Dana White recounted the first time he spoke with lightweight Michael Chandler, explaining why it was a no-brainer to sign him.
Chandler was a three-time Bellator lightweight champion and he recently became a free agent following a stunning knockout win over former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson in the Bellator cage. White and the UFC quickly swooped in and signed Chandler, while also anointing him as the official back-up to the UFC 254 main event between lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and interim champ Justin Gaethje.
Speaking to BT Sport ahead of UFC 254, White spoke about the first time he spoke with Chandler on the phone and praised “Iron” for being a “great kid.”
“Another great kid,” White said of Chandler. Loved talking to this kid on the phone. He and I talked on the phone one time. I was taking off into the air on a plane and he and I talked for five minutes. I hung up the phone, I called my lawyer, and I said, ‘I don’t care what it takes, sign this kid. I want him. I like him and I want him.’ We talked for five minutes on the phone. That’s all I needed to do, was hear him for five minutes. What a great, great kid this kid is.”
White hinted that he was impressed by Chandler’s eagerness to take the back-up role in the title fight, noting that many of Nurmagomedov’s past fights have fallen through.
“Again, if you look at the history of Khabib fights, anything is possible,” White said. “So for him to come out and take this chance, to possibly get this title fight, brilliant. I mean it’s what you should do. I mean it’s why Gaethje is here right now.”
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