Michael Chandler has long been touted as one of the best lightweights in mixed martial arts. With his recent signing with the UFC, Chandler is more than happy to get tested amongst the UFC’s top-ranked lightweights and while no official bout has been booked, Chandler is on deck as a backup fighter for the UFC 254 main event between current lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje.
While, the news of him serving as backup for the UFC 254 main event may seem like an odd first appearance, in the current time of the COVID-19 pandemic Chandler makes for a perfect substitute and he could not be more excited. In an interview with TMZ, Chandler said he was, “extremely excited” about the signing and the chance to step in against the two best lightweights in the UFC. Chandler also added, “I’ve been saying it for 11 years now. That, I think I’m the best lightweight in the world and I now have the opportunity to fight in the ultimate proving grounds that is the UFC.”
Should something put the main event of UFC 254 in jeopardy, Chandler instantly gets inserted in a potential match with the current champion, or the interim lightweight champion in Gaethje who, naturally is currently ranked number one in the UFC Rankings. While Chandler fully intends to be ready for either Nurmagomedov or Gaethje on October 24, for him the plan is to be ready for any of the top five in the lightweight rankings.
Chandler said, “You got to keep the main thing, the main thing. And the main thing is me staying in the gym preparing for; Khabib, Gaethje, Ferguson, Poirier, Conor, any of those guys in the top five.” He added that he also told the UFC, “I’m not here for a long time, I’m here for a good time and I want to jump right into that top five right away.”