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Michael Chandler Understands if UFC Debut Isn’t Title Fight

Michael Chandler was an alternative for the title fight at UFC 254, but he understands if a belt isn't on the line for his UFC debut.

The UFC demonstrated the company’s faith in Michael Chandler’s abilities, when they tapped him as an alternate for the Khabib Nurmagomedov – Justin Gaethje championship fight last month. But, moving forward, the former Bellator champ won’t raise a fuss if the lightweight belt isn’t on the line in his UFC debut.

Image Credit: Bellator / YouTube

Chandler knows he’s the “new guy”

After it was announced that the UFC had signed Chandler, some eyebrows were raised, when it was also confirmed he would serve as an alternate for the UFC 254 headliner. After all, while Chandler is an accomplished and very talented fighter, he has yet to complete in the Octagon.

At the end of the day, Chandler didn’t need to compete at the October 24th event, and Khabib went on to defend the lightweight title against Gaethje. Afterward, Khabib announced he’s retiring from the game, and it’s not known yet what the plan is for the UFC’s lightweight belt.

While appearing on the UFC’s podcast recently, Chandler relayed that he understands he likely won’t be involved in a fight for the vacant belt, if Khabib is indeed, stripped of the belt soon.

“That’s the UFC’s job to make that decision,” Chandler said. “Let’s be honest, I share a division with the biggest name in combat sports.

The most polarizing guy we may ever see and his name is Conor McGregor. So if Conor McGregor is in the weight class, and there needs to be an interim belt, chances are he could be fighting for it and I don’t fault the UFC for that.

I realize I’m the new guy, the lowest guy on the pecking order. I just want to come in and earn it.”

Chandler’s take here is understandable. While hardcore fans are well aware of his abilities, he doesn’t have the mainstream audience of big UFC names just yet. 

Who does Chandler want to fight?

All that said, due to Chander’s skills, he could be tapped for a title shot eliminator, in his UFC debut. While talking about who he wants to fight in his first, promotional appearance, the powerful wrestler said this.

“Tony Ferguson, Justin Gaethje would be number one and number two of the guys I want to fight,” Chandler said said. “I think it’s a great introductory fight to the UFC fans of who Michael Chandler is.

They’re both great fights, they’re both guys who fight. As you guys have seen who watched my fights, guys who run away, that’s the best way to try to beat me is to try to run away from my pressure. Justin Gaethje, Tony Ferguson are going to meet me in the middle of the Octagon and we’re going to have a blast.

So either of those guys sounds like a great fight.”

On paper, both of those fights look great. The question is, however, do Gaethje or Ferguson want to run the risk of losing to someone, who may not be familiar to casual UFC fans?

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