Michael Chandler made an emphatic statement in his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) debut a few months ago at UFC 257, knocking out top contender Dan Hooker in the first round (recap here).
Now, the former Bellator MMA Lightweight champion could be gearing up for his sophomore UFC effort. According to ESPN’s Ariel Helwani’s comments during the DC & Helwani podcast, he got word that the promotion is eying a showdown between Chandler and former title contender, Justin Gaethje.
While nothing is official — including location or date — that seems to be the direction UFC matchmakers are leaning. Gaethje hasn’t competed since losing to current UFC Lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov, at UFC 254 in Oct. 2020. As for Chandler, he had been trying to lock down another fight for a quick turnaround, but has been unsuccessful up to this point.
Indeed, it seems business is starting to pick up in the Lightweight division with the recent booking of Tony Ferguson vs. Beniel Dariush and a possible trilogy fight between Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor.
The only question remains: What’s going on with Charles Oliveira?
Khabib still hasn’t given up the title (nor has UFC tried to vacate it), but he is still technically retired. Perhaps the promotion is saving “Do Bronx” in case it needs him to step in to fight for the future vacant belt.
Or is he being frozen out because of this?