Michael Chandler

Dan Hooker ‘would love to be the guy who welcomes’ Michael Chandler to the UFC

After 10 years in Bellator and two separate stints as the promotion’s lightweight champion, Michael Chandler is finally going to get the opportunity to test himself against the shark tank that is the UFC’s 155-pound division.

Last week, it was announced that the 34-year-old had officially signed with the UFC and that he would serve as a backup for UFC 254’s main event, which is a scheduled lightweight title fight between champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and interim titleholder Justin Gaethje.

There were initially rumors that Chandler could immediately step in to take on either Tony Ferguson or Dustin Poirier at the event, but it doesn’t appear as if either of those fighters will be competing next month.

So for now, Chandler remains the backup, but as we all know, things can change in an instant in this sport and there’s still about a month to go until UFC 254 takes place. And if the UFC was to consider booking Chandler against someone else, there’d likely be a few options given Chandler’s status as a former champion and the attention currently surrounding him.

In fact, New Zealand’s own Dan Hooker, who’s currently ranked No. 4 at 155 pounds, has already made it known that he’d have no issue being the one to meet Chandler in the Octagon next month if need be.

“If Sean Shelby calls me right now and he says Michael Chandler, UFC two hundred and whatever, we can put that together, we can make that happen, of course,” Hooker told Submission Radio (H/T MMAMania). “The UFC is putting a lot of stock in this kid. So I would love to be the guy who welcomes him to the UFC, knees his chin off, and sends him back to the B-Leagues.”

Hooker, one of the most entertaining and durable fighters in the division, has won three of his last four bouts but is coming off a closely fought decision defeat against Porier this past June. Given his ranking and fan-friendly style, he’d certainly be an intriguing option for Chandler.

A winner of five of his last six, Chandler is currently riding a two-fight winning streak that includes victories over Sydney Outlaw and ex-UFC titleholder Benson Henderson. Regardless of when the former Bellator champion makes his promotional debut, there’s no denying it will be against a highly ranked UFC contender.

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