Michael Chandler is set to face Dan Hooker in the UFC 257 co-main event next weekend, but he had a tough time getting his first fight in his new promotion.
Chandler signed with the UFC last September, after almost a decade of fighting in Bellator. His first task was to serve as the backup for the UFC 254 lightweight title fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje, but his services weren’t required as both fighters went on to compete, with ‘The Eagle’ successfully defending his title.
Since his arrival in the UFC, Chandler has been itching to test himself against the world’s best fighters, but wasn’t able to get a matchup with any of the lightweights in the top five, resulting in him accepting a fight with number six ranked, Hooker.
No Luck In The Top Five
“Obviously I wanted to fight, two, three, four, or five before I fought number six,” Chandler said. “Every single one of them in the top five [turned down the fight], besides Conor. They all, and rightfully so. These guys have cut their teeth in this organisation.
“These guys, everybody in the top five have fought in the UFC’s lightweight division for five to ten years, these guys have put their time in, their blood, sweat, and tears. I realise I was an outsider, a newcomer, a darkhorse. I realise nobody wanted to really be the first guy who stepped into that Octagon with me, I completely get it.”
Dan Hooker Fight
While his wish of making his debut against a high ranked opponent didn’t work out, a fight with Hooker is a great opportunity for Chandler to introduce himself to UFC fans.
“But, beggars can’t be choosers, Dan Hooker was the guy who said yes when everyone else said no,” Chandler added. “The good thing is I have a fight lined up, we have a contract signed. The biggest card of the year, the co-main event of UFC 257 isn’t a bad way to introduce yourself to the UFC fans. Here we go, January 23rd we get a great opportunity, I’m excited about it.”
Michael Chandler or Dan Hooker, who do you think gets his hand raised in the UFC 257 co-main event?