Michael Chandler on UFC 254 backup role: ‘Perfect way to introduce myself’

Daniel Cunningham
Michael Chandler

There’s a new UFC lightweight that is going to quickly become a promotional favorite. That lightweight is Michael Chandler (21-5) who just signed a deal with the promotion last week. Chandler had been a multiple time lightweight champion in Bellator prior to signing with the UFC.

Not only did Chandler sign with the UFC, but he signed on to be the backup for UFC 254. That card is headlined by the lightweight title fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov (28-0) and Justin Gaethje (22-2). Should one fall out, Chandler will step into the title fight.

It’s an interesting decision for Chandler to agree to this for his UFC debut. Most people would want a traditional camp to prepare for a debut. However, Chandler’s thoughts on the matter is, “It’s the perfect way to introduce myself. I’ve never turned down a fight… I’ve never not shown up,” Chandler told ESPN.

A New UFC Company Man

Chandler has to be a favorite of UFC President Dana White already, and he hasn’t even fought. When Chandler came to terms with the UFC, he made it clear to the promotion that he would do anything that needed him to.

“This was the perfect time for me to insert my name into the mix. Dana said, ‘Will you fight on October 24th?’ I told him I’d be ready September 24th. He asked if I would fight one of those guys (Tony Ferguson or Dustin Poirier), I said absolutely. He asked if I’d backup the main event, I said absolutely,” Chandler said.

It’s clear that Chandler was willing to accept anything that the UFC offered. Chandler has been chomping at the bit to prove that he’s the best lightweight in the world for years. He sees this as the perfect time to jump to the UFC to prove that he’s truly the best.

Ferguson and Poirier have stayed loyal to their fight, so for now, Chandler will train to be the backup at UFC 254. He’s ready to go up against the best of the best if he has to. “Either I am who I say I am or I’m not. Sink or swim,” Chandler said.