Michael Chandler was widely considered a Bellator name sake, so it came as a surprise when he entered free agency and subsequently signed with Bellator’s biggest rival the UFC. Chandler who competes at 155lb has entered the UFC in what is viewed as one of the deepest weight divisions, with the likes of Gaethje, Poirer and up until recently Nurmagomedov all competing at that weight.
Chandler has had his fair share of well-rounded and robust opponents over his near 12 year pro MMA career, with notable names such as Benson Henderson and Eddie Alvarez on his résumé. While Chandler succeeded twice in defeating Ex-UFC Lightweight Champion Henderson he has gone 1-1 with Alvarez. If you recall Alvarez made the switch from Bellator to the UFC and had great success, capturing UFC gold, before having mixed results and ultimately signing with One Championship.
So who is to say Chandler cannot replicate that success? With a well-balanced Win record of 9 KO’s, 7 submissions and 5 decisions, demonstrates that he has versatility and can adapt to where ever the fight may take him. With the dominant Russian, Khabib retiring, a gap has emerged and Chandler believes he can fill it. While he is a new acquisition to the UFC, he holds no official UFC ranking, but the fact that he was placed as a backup for Khabib v Gaethje back in October indicates that he is held in high regard by the UFC matchmakers and UFC president Dana White.
The signing of Chandler could be seen as a win-win scenario for the UFC president. If Chandler goes on to win the title, he has a new face of the UFC lightweight division and made a sound business decision in bringing him on board. If he were to lose, White, while already making the claim in previous interviews, now has further evidence that Bellator’s talent is unmatched when compared to the UFC.
However Scott Coker, president of Bellator believes that Chandler signing with the UFC and been an immediate replacement on the UFC 254 bill only demonstrated the quality of fighters that Bellator has in its roster.
“What does it say about the quality of fighters in Bellator when a guy like Michael Chandler leaves and gets put right into the immediate title shot conversation? Right? It shows you how great these fighters are over here.”
Therefore Bellator president Scott Coker will keep a careful eye on UFC 257 when Chandler makes his debut against Dan ‘The Hangman’ Hooker, not only as a Chandler fan but also as an astute business man. A win could not only validate Bellator’s credentials, but the organisation could see new fans tune in and take value in its stars, such as the flamboyant Michael ‘Venom’ Page or Patrício Freire, Bellator’s Featherweight and Lightweight champion, who handed Chandler a TKO defeat in 2019.