Last Friday evening, Iron Michael Chandler (21-5) put on the perfect performance in the final fight of his Bellator contract. At Bellator 243, Chandler starched former UFC lightweight champion, Benson Henderson, in the first round.
Chandler was set to test free agency for the first time in his career. It was a dangerous fight for Chandler to take, but it says a lot about him as a fighter. He took the most dangerous opponent he could in his final fight on his contract.
It was dangerous, but Chandler had arguably the most impressive win of his career. Now, the 34 year old lightweight walks into free agency with a ton of momentum.
Will it be the UFC or Bellator?
When the fight was over, Chandler sounded like a fighter that might have a foot out the door with his current promotion. While he did say to Scott Coker, “Let’s get something done,” he also made it very clear that it could be his final fight in Bellator.
In the post-fight press conference, you could see the UFC wheels turning for Chandler. The media was asking him about potential matchups with guys like Conor McGregor and more.
As a competitor, there is a clear choice for Chandler. If he wants to prove that he is truly at the highest level, he needs to make the jump to the UFC. No disrespect to Bellator, but the competition is just not there.
Sure, there is Patricio Pitbull. Pitbull is definitely one of the best in the world, but the UFC‘s lightweight division is shark infested waters. The division is the most stacked division in the world, and I think that’s very appealing to Chandler.
I’ve wanted to see Chandler make the UFC jump for years now. I’ve always felt that he’s been one of the best lightweights in the world, but he never got the respect he deserved because he fought in Bellator.
This is his chance to prove himself. There is not a single easy fight in the UFC‘s top ten of the lightweight division. If Chandler makes the jump, I could see the promotion giving him someone like Dan Hooker out of the gate.
Unless they want to build him up a little inside the octagon. However, given Chandler’s background and history, I think he’d jump right into the deep end. My prediction is that by the November or December, we are going to be seeing Michael Chandler make the walk in the UFC.