Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is about to find out if former Bellator MMA lightweight champion Michael Chandler can hang with the promotion’s elite, starting with his Dan Hooker showdown at UFC 257 on Jan. 23 in Abu Dhabi.
But if matchmakers had their first pick, “Iron” would instead be throwing hands with surging lightweight contender Charles Oliveira. Unfortunately, “Do Bronx” was unable to make the weight on short notice and was forced to decline.
On the plus side, the Brazilian remains in the 155-pound title hunt.
“We offered him this fight (with Chandler) but he couldn’t make weight, so you can’t blame the guy for that,” UFC President Dana White told The Mac Life. “Look at Oliveira. I mean, look at what this guy has done. Coming off that performance that he just put on over Tony (Ferguson), it’s hard to overlook him.”
Oliveira (30-8, 1 NC) has won eight straight with seven finishes.
Assuming Khabib Nurmagomedov vacates his title and retires from competition, the winner of Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier — who collide in the UFC 257 pay-per-view (PPV) main event — is expected to move on to face another top contender for the lightweight strap.
That could be Oliveira, or it could be No. 1-ranked Justin Gaethje. Chandler will probably be in the mix as well with a dominant performance against Hooker. Perhaps that tournament proposal from “Iron” wasn’t such a bad idea after all.