UFC 257 Preview: Dan Hooker – Michael Chandler

Tomorrow night at UFC 257, we have another incredible lightweight fight in the co-main event of the evening. Dan Hooker (20-9) will be tasked with welcoming Michael Chandler (21-5) to the UFC.

Chandler is the former Bellator lightweight champion and he’s been widely considered to be one of the best lightweights in the world for a long time. After spending ten years with Bellator, Chandler made the jump to the UFC in 2020.

Chandler was actually introduced to the UFC audience as the backup for the Khabib Nurmagomedov – Justin Gaethje fight. He traveled to Fight Island and made weight, but ultimately didn’t compete.

This will be Chandler’s first true action in the UFC. Outside of a doctor stoppage due to a leg injury, Chandler has only lost once since 2015. He comes into the fight tomorrow night riding a two-fight first round knockout streak.

However, Chandler is jumping right into the deep end of the pool. Dan Hooker completely turned his career around when he moved up to 155 pounds. After struggling for years at 145, Hooker moved up and it’s changed everything.

Since moving to lightweight, Dan Hooker has only lost twice. Those two losses came against Edson Barboza and Dustin Poirier. However, he’s picked up wins over Paul Felder, Al Iaquinta, and Gilbert Burns.

UFC 257 Prediction

When it comes to my UFC 257 prediction, it’s all going to come down to the grappling. Yes, Michael Chandler has two first round knockouts in his last two fights. However, I don’t believe he wants to purely stand and trade with Dan Hooker.

Hooker is a sniper on the feet and enjoys a big reach advantage in this fight. For Michael Chandler, he’s going to have to land some takedowns or get some control in this one if he wants to win. If it becomes just a standup fight, I think he’ll get picked apart over three rounds.

That said, Chandler does have the power and speed to land one massive shot on the feet. For Dan Hooker, he needs to keep this fight standing and he needs to keep this fight at range. If he does that, he’ll be able to spoil Chandler’s UFC debut.

This is a fight where I see both men enjoying some success. I think Hooker is going to land some big shots, and I also believe that Michael Chandler is going to land a couple of takedowns as well as land on the feet. So who walks away with their hand raised?

I’m not confident in this pick at all, but I’m leaning towards Michael Chandler. If this fight was five rounds, I’d probably lean towards Hooker because I’ve seen Chandler get tired, but in three rounds, I think he’ll use his wrestling to score enough points to win two of the rounds.

That said, if Dan Hooker is able to keep this standing, I could easily see him picking Chandler apart on the feet. I wouldn’t put money on this pick, but Chandler will win his UFC debut in a very close fight.

Prediction: Michael Chandler by Split Decision

Khabib Nurmagomedov will come back if someone does something special at UFC 257

Back in October after UFC 254, lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov (29-0) laid down his gloves and retired. It had been an incredibly tough 2020 for Khabib in which he lost his father to a battle with COVID-19. 

Khabib had promised his mother before the Justin Gaethje fight that he would retire after UFC 254. However, Dana White has been holding out hope that Khabib Nurmagomedov would change his mind and come back for one more fight. 

The original plan for Khabib was to try and retire from the UFC at 30-0. That was his father’s plan, but Khabib admitted that he didn’t want to go on without his father in his corner. Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov was the lead trainer for his son Khabib.

There is no questioning that Khabib Nurmagomedov is the best lightweight in the world. He’s an absolute animal who just appears to be getting better every time we see him. From a fighting perspective, it would be a shame to never see Khabib in the UFC again.

That is where Dana White has been coming from in wanting him to fight. Well, yesterday White and Khabib had their much anticipated meeting about Khabib’s future. After the first fight on the main card at UFC Fight Island 7, White announced Khabib’s decision.

The decision’s impact on the UFC lightweight division

White told Jon Anik that Khabib is going to wait until after UFC 257 to make a final decision. Khabib is not ready to close the door on his fighting future, however, he’s not ready to commit to a comeback just yet.

White said that Khabib will be watching next Saturday and if he feels that someone does something special, he’ll think about coming back to defend his UFC title. However, if nothing excites him, he won’t hold up the division and he will give up the title.

The Conor McGregor (22-4) rematch is what the UFC wants to do. However, McGregor has to get by Dustin Poirier first. For now, the decision really didn’t give us anything new. We know that Khabib is not fully committed to retirement, but at the same time, he’s not committed to coming back yet.

Michael Chandler believes he will be the UFC lightweight champ this year

Michael Chandler

One of the biggest storylines for the UFC that came outside the actual octagon in 2020 was the promotion’s signing of Michael Chandler (21-5). The former Bellator lightweight champion finished his contract back in August.

After he knocked out Benson Henderson, Chandler was the hottest free agent in MMA. All of the big promotion’s were throwing money at him, however, there was one place he knew he wanted to be at.

Despite the UFC not offering the most money, Chandler signed with the biggest MMA promotion in the world. For Michael Chandler, signing with the UFC was more about his legacy and the competition over the money.

Chandler has made it very clear that he wants to prove that he’s one of the very best in the world. He served at the backup at UFC 254 if Khabib Nurmagomedov or Justin Gaethje would have fallen out of the main event.

Chandler showed up and made weight despite not being officially booked for a fight. He wanted to get the feel of being in the UFC and he wanted to meet everyone behind the scenes to get a sense of what it’s like.

After initially struggling to get him a fight, the promotion has booked Chandler for his debut at UFC 257. Chandler will be taking on top lightweight contender, Dan Hooker (20-9), in the co-main event of the evening.

Will Chandler become a UFC champion?

Michael Chandler recently sat down with MMA On Point where he talked about his journey in getting to UFC 257. He made it clear that he believes he will prove he’s the best in the world saying, “I truly believe I’m going to be the UFC Lightweight Champion this year.”

Defeating Dan Hooker would be a great first step for the former Bellator champion. However, even beating Dan Hooker isn’t likely to net Chandler a title fight right away. More than likely, he will have to win twice to get that shot at the title.

Granted, starting in January is a great thing for Michael Chandler and the UFC. Chandler has a desire to be active in 2021 and if he’s going to be champion, he’s going to have to fight three times this year.

Michael Chandler does have the skills to become a champion in the UFC. However, it’s going to be far from easy, but that’s his prime motivation. Chandler’s addition made the best division in the promotion even more exciting in 2021.

Dustin Poirier has signed a new eight-fight deal with the UFC

Next weekend at UFC 257, Dustin Poirier (26-6, 1 NC) will get the opportunity to avenge one of his biggest losses. In the headliner, Poirier will be taking on Conor McGregor (22-4) in a rematch from UFC 178.

The first fight that took place back in 2014 did not go well for Poirier. After a heated buildup, McGregor stopped Poirier in the first round. However, since that moment, Poirier has surged in his career.

Since the first loss to McGregor, Poirier has gone 10-2,1 NC in thirteen fights. The pinnacle of his rise came at UFC 236 when he defeated Max Holloway (21-6) to become the interim lightweight champion.

However, his interim reign didn’t last long as he was dominated by Khabib Nurmagomedov (29-0) at UFC 242 later that year. Still, Poirier is one of the very best in the world and he plans to show his improvement next Saturday.

Getting Poirier to this fight hasn’t been an easy thing. Originally, the promotion wanted Poirier to fight at UFC 254 in the co-headliner against Tony Ferguson (25-5). However, Poirier and the UFC couldn’t come to an agreement.

After they couldn’t come to an agreement on the money for the Ferguson fight, the promotion tried offering Poirier a fight with Michael Chandler (21-5). However, Poirier was still not good with the UFC‘s financial offer.

As a result, the talks fell apart and Poirier didn’t end up fighting. During this time, Conor McGregor was having his own issues with the promotion. With both men upset at the UFC, they talked online about having a charity match. That’s where things turned.

Charity Match to a New UFC Contract

McGregor and Poirier both agreed to an exhibition MMA match for charity that had nothing to do with the UFC. Of course, that is when the promotion decided to engage both men about fighting each other.

After a long negotiation, both sides came to a deal and the two are headlining UFC 257. However, it wasn’t just a one-off for Poirier. The Diamond revealed to Theo Von in a recent interview that he’s signed a new eight-fight deal with the promotion.

After all of the issues that Poirier was having with the promotion, it seems that everything has been ironed out. In the interview, Poirier even talked about a willingness to move up to welterweight eventually.

Poirier told Von, “I just signed an eight-fight contract with the UFC. My plan is to fight eight more times. I want to finish this contract I’m on, fight eight more times. Then we’ll see where we’re at there. But I’m not looking past that or before that.”

You can watch the entire interview below.

UFC targeting Justin Gaethje – Charles Oliveira per Dana White

Last night the UFC President did a live Q&A for fans and subscribers of ESPN+. Dana White fielded a number of questions on a variety of topics surrounding the promotion. A fan asked him about what’s next for Justin Gaethje (22-3).

The former interim lightweight champion is coming off of a loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov (29-0) at UFC 254. Since then, it’s been relatively quiet on what would be next for The Highlight.

The speculation was that Gaethje would be fighting Michael Chandler (21-5) at UFC 257. However, as we’ve recently learned, Dan Hooker (20-9) is going to be tasked with being the first to welcome Chandler to the UFC. 

With those two booked against each other, White said they have an opponent in mind for Gaethje. White said that the UFC is working on Gaethje taking on Charles Oliveira (30-8, 1 NC) if all goes as planned.

UFC lightweight showdown

This is the perfect fight to make for the lightweight division. It’s also the fight that makes the most sense given the current landscape of 155. Conor McGregor (22-4) and Dustin Poirier (26-6, 1 NC) are headlining UFC 257 in a couple of weeks.

White said that the winner of that fight will be the number one contender. There had been speculation that the fight could be for the UFC lightweight title should Khabib Nurmagomedov completely vacate his title.

However, it appears that it will just be a title eliminator. Should Khabib stay retired, the winner of UFC 257 would likely take on the winner of this proposed matchup between Gaethje and Charles Oliveira.

Prior to the loss to Khabib, Gaethje had won four fights in a row and all of them came by knockout. Charles Oliveira is looking better than ever and he just picked up his eighth straight victory at UFC 256 over Tony Ferguson (25-5).

It appears that the UFC is putting together a little lightweight tournament. White said last week that in a perfect world, Khabib would fight one more time. If that happens, the winner of UFC 257 would get the shot at him.

If that were to happen, the winners of the Gaethje – Oliveira and Chandler – Hooker fights would likely fight. However, I believe that Khabib is likely to stay retired thus the winner of McGregor – Poirier will take on the winner of Gaethje – Oliveira for the UFC lightweight title.

State of the UFC’s lightweight division entering 2021

As we close out 2020, the UFC‘s lightweight division is in limbo. The reason is that the undisputed champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov (29-0), said after his last fight that he was walking away from competition.

Khabib choked out Justin Gaethje (22-3) at UFC 254 to successfully defend his title. While in most cases the UFC would just move on and book a title fight for the vacant title, Dana White has said that he’s going to try to convince Khabib to compete again. 

Originally, Khabib wanted to retire at 30-0. However, after his father passed away this year, the UFC lightweight champion promised his mother that his fight against Justin Gaethje would be his last fight.

As of now, we still don’t know what’s going to happen. Nurmagomedov came out this week and said he believed that his title could be up for grabs at UFC 257. The main event of that card features the rematch between Conor McGregor (22-4) and Dustin Poirier (26-6, 1 NC).

State of the UFC’s lightweight division

If we do get confirmation that Khabib is no longer going to fight, it would make sense that McGregor and Poirier fight for the UFC title. The promotion wanted McGregor to fight for the title in 2020. Poirier is the former interim champion and deserves another shot.

It’s a fluid situation, but I think there’s a good chance we see some form of UFC title fight happen at 257. Although not officially announced, the co-main event that night is also a big fight for the lightweight division.

The UFC‘s prized signing of 2020, Michael Chandler (21-5), is expected to make his promotional debut. We found out last week that it appears he will be taking on Dan Hooker (20-9) in the co-headliner.

Again, that’s not confirmed. Whoever wins that matchup will be right at the top of the division alongside Justin Gaethje and Charles Oliveira (30-8, 1 NC). Oliveira announced his status as a top contender at UFC 256.

A few weeks ago, Oliveira completely dominated Tony Ferguson (25-5). The fight was incredibly one-sided and Oliveira should be in the conversations for a title eliminator after that performance.

2020 was a rough year for Ferguson who lost in dominant fashions to both Oliveira and Justin Gaethje. Ferguson was the boogey man of the lightweight division for so many years. However, he took a major step back in 2020.

There’s a reason why the lightweight division has been the best in the UFC for some time. It’s a murderers row of contenders and with Khabib stepping away, the division is up for grabs. Should be a very fun 2021 in that division.

UFC booking Dan Hooker – Michael Chandler (Report)

There are reports out this evening that are saying the UFC has booked a lightweight contest between Michael Chandler (21-5) and Dan Hooker (20-9). The news was first reported by Stuff, a media outlet in New Zealand. The bout will take place at UFC 257.

Michael Chandler posted on social media a couple of weeks ago that he was entering camp for his UFC debut. However, he didn’t say who he’d be facing. The speculation was that he’d be facing Justin Gaethje in his debut.

Dana White even alluded to that potential matchup in the last couple of weeks. However, Dan Hooker also came out last week and said that he was in training camp for his next UFC fight.

The rumors started running on if Hooker would be facing off against Chandler. Assuming this report holds true, we now know that Dan Hooker will be the lightweight responsible for welcoming Michael Chandler to the UFC.

Hooker is coming off of a loss to Dustin Poirier back in June. That loss snapped a three-fight win streak for Hooker. He will enter the cage on January 23rd currently ranked as the sixth best lightweight in the world.

UFC debut for Michael Chandler

Michael Chandler will be making his anticipated UFC debut in January. As mentioned above, we knew that Chandler would be making his debut likely at UFC 257. However, we had been missing the opponent.

Dan Hooker is a very interesting matchup for Michael Chandler. Chandler will enter the octagon having gone 5-1 in his last six fights with the lone loss coming to Patricio Pitbull in May of last year.

UFC 257 is proving to be a pivotal night for the lightweight division. Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier are headlining the card and Chandler – Hooker is expected to be the co-main event of the evening.

There has been rumblings that the McGregor – Poirier fight could be for a title if Khabib Nurmagomedov sticks to his retirement. However, nothing is official as of yet. Dana White is expected to meet with the lightweight champion in a few weeks.

After dominating Tony Ferguson at UFC 256, what’s next for Charles Oliveira?

This past Saturday evening in the co-main event of UFC 256, Charles Oliveira (30-8, 1 NC) took on Tony Ferguson (25-5). Ferguson was looking to bounce back after his last loss while Oliveira was looking to continue his winning streak.

Heading into UFC 256, Oliveira had won seven fights in a row. However, it was the way he won those seven fights which stood out. Oliveira had finished all seven of his opponents leading into UFC 256.

Saturday night was the biggest test in the career of Charles Oliveira. With Oliveira, the questions never surrounded his talent. However, there had been times in his career where he came up short in the big fights.

Granted, a majority of those opportunities happened at featherweight. Oliveira is no longer depleting himself to make 145 pounds. Fighting at lightweight has really allowed Charles Oliveira to reach his prime inside the octagon.

That really showed at UFC 256. Oliveira completely dominated the former interim lightweight champion and nearly finished him in the first round. With the dominant victory, Oliveira made a huge leap in the rankings. 

What’s next after UFC 256?

With his victory at UFC 256, Oliveira went from seventh to third in the lightweight division. The only contenders ranked ahead of him at the moment are Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje.

Poirier is scheduled to face Conor McGregor at UFC 257. Justin Gaethje is being rumored to face Michael Chandler in the co-main event of that card. Conventional wisdom said the winners of those two fights would face off for the title if Khabib Nurmagomedov stays retired.

If that happens, what’s next for Charles Oliveira? This is a tough question to answer at the moment. On one hand, Oliveira definitely deserves to be in the conversation for the next UFC title shot.

However, if the promotion goes with this four man style tournament, that leaves Oliveira as the odd man out. For the sake of this article, let’s say that the promotion books those four men up at UFC 257.

If the winners come out unscathed, I could see the UFC giving Oliveira the loser of one of the fights. However, if one of the winners is going to be out for some time, the promotion could give Oliveira a title shot against the other winner.

There are a few options for the promotion and their third ranked lightweight. I think no matter what, Oliveira will either be fighting for the title in his next fight or he will be fighting in a title eliminator.

UFC: Michael Chandler is in camp, but who is he fighting?

Michael Chandler

Earlier this year, the UFC made headlines when they signed top lightweight, Michael Chandler (21-5). Chandler had been a Bellator champion on a number of occasions. He was always considered to be one of the best in the world.

However, with him fighting outside the UFC, there have always been questions on just how good he is. Chandler wanted to prove himself and see for himself just how good he is which is why he took a deal with the UFC.

He recently stated the the UFC was not offering him the most money. However, they provided the best competition which is what meant the most to Chandler. Originally, Chandler was supposed to make his debut at UFC 254 against either Tony Ferguson or Dustin Poirier.

The UFC tried to make a fight between Ferguson and Poirier, but after that fell through, they tried booking either against Chandler. A fight never materialized between Chandler and either of those top contenders.

Instead, Chandler still flew out to Fight Island, but as the backup for the UFC 254 main event. Chandler said it was his way of showing the UFC and the world that he is willing to take anything that they throw at him.

Recently, Chandler posted on Instagram that he was starting up his fight camp. He has aspirations to fight on the UFC 257 card which features the rematch between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier. So, who is Chandler training for?

Chandler at UFC 257?

Based on Michael Chandler being in camp, the safe assumption is that the plan is for Chandler to fight in January. With that in mind, there are a couple of potential opponents for Chandler to face at UFC 257.

The front-runner in my opinion is Justin Gaethje (22-3). Gaethje is the top ranked lightweight in the UFC and the former interim champion. Gaethje said he needs to get a win before fighting for the title again, and Chandler needs an opponent.

Chandler has openly expressed his desire to fight Justin Gaethje. Another opportunity would be Dan Hooker (20-9). Hooker is currently ranked fifth in the division and he said that he wanted to send Chandler back to the B-Leagues.

The UFC could also turnaround either Tony Ferguson or Charles Oliveira if one of them wins without taking too much damage this weekend. No matter what, Chandler’s first opponent will be a top five lightweight. We should know sooner than later who that opponent is.

UFC: Justin Gaethje says he needs a win before another title shot

There might not be many in the business more likeable than Justin Gaethje (22-3). The former interim UFC lightweight champion just tells it like it is and he’s never afraid to be brutally honest even at his own expense.

We haven’t seen or heard much from Gaethje since his failed attempt to capture undisputed gold at UFC 254. That night, Gaethje took on Khabib Nurmagomedov. Gaethje was looked at as the most dangerous challenger to Khabib’s reign.

However, Khabib continued to show just how special he is dominating the fight and submitting Gaethje in the second round. Now, the former interim champion is ready to get back on the horse to try to capture UFC gold.

In an interview with The Schmo, Gaethje talked about what he wants to do next. “McGregor and Poirier are fighting soon, I would love to fight the winner of that. I wholeheartedly believe that you should be coming off a win to fight for a belt. So my job now is to get a win,” Gaethje said.

The Schmo followed up asking if Gaethje wants to wait for the winner of that fight. Gaethje replied, “I want to fight for the belt. If it’s the winner of that fight (who will be fighting for a belt), then in turn, I would have to beat somebody first.”

What’s the UFC’s plan for Gaethje?

You have to love the honesty from Justin Gaethje. He’s not sitting there demanding a UFC title shot despite the fact that he’s the top ranked lightweight in the division. He truly believes he has to win again before fighting for the belt.

So what should the UFC do with Gaethje? I think there are two very clear options for the promotion and Gaethje. I think the top option is for Gaethje to face Michael Chandler in January at UFC 257 as the co-main event.

Chandler has said he’s already in training camp and wants to fight on the McGregor – Poirier card. If the UFC pairs Gaethje with Chandler that night, you can see a little lightweight tournament forming for the championship.

The other option for Gaethje would be Dan Hooker. Hooker has expressed interest in fighting Gaethje and Hooker is also a top ranked lightweight. I think this should be the secondary option, but it’s another good one.

What we do know is that Gaethje wants to fight and win again before getting his next UFC title shot. I think we will get some clarity on the Justin Gaethje front sooner than later. I expect him to have a fight in January or February.