Michael Chandler is finally set to make his UFC debut in the co-main event of UFC 257 against Dan Hooker.
After signing with the UFC in the summer, Chandler was rumored to make his debut at UFC 254. However, deals could not be struck with either Dustin Poirier or Tony Ferguson, so “Iron” was left to be the backup fighter for the title fight.
Now, as he is about to make the walk to the Octagon for the first time, Chandler has his hands full in Hooker. However, the former Bellator lightweight champion knows a statement win over the Kiwi could be enough to entice Khabib Nurmagomedov out of retirement to fight him.
“I want to put a stamp on my introduction for who I am to the UFC fans by finishing Dan Hooker or dominating him,” Chandler said to MMAFighting. “It really puts me in a position to where maybe I get the winner of Conor-Poirier. Or, I get the next title shot against Khabib.
“I think if I go out there and showcase my wrestling skills, too,” Chandler added. “I mean there’s no doubt I want to go out there and knock Dan Hooker out. But, I also want to show the world my wrestling skills. I want to put a stamp on good old fashioned American wrestling. Maybe I can entice Khabib to come back for the U.S. American wrestling versus Russian Sambo and see if he can get to 30-0 and beat me — if he can.”
Although Nurmagomedov retired after UFC 254 as he said he promised his mother he wouldn’t fight again. UFC president, Dana White, however, has been adamant the lightweight champ will fight again.
If Nurmagomedov does fight again, many believe it would be a one-off and would have to be a legacy fight. Whether or not Michael Chandler is that fight is uncertain, but he believes he is.