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Michael Chandler will enter the UFC in an interesting position.
Instead of being booked against a marquee opponent for his Octagon debut, the former Bellator champion instead will serve as an alternate for the lightweight title bout between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje at UFC 254.
“A lot of guys would at it and say, ‘This guy’s silly for doing this.’ I look at like it’s the perfect way to introduce myself…this is just an opportunity for me to show up,” Chandler recently told ESPN. “Whether I fight Oct. 24 or I do not fight Oct. 24, I’m training as if I am, I’m showing up as if I am, I am making weight as if I am. It just goes to show exactly who I am.
“I think it’s a perfect introduction to the UFC and the UFC fans of who I am and how I conduct myself.”
Chandler was reportedly considered as a potential foe for Tony Ferguson at UFC 254 after the promotion’s negotiations with Dustin Poirier fell through, but for now it appears that the former University of Missouri wrestling standout will serve in a backup capacity only. According to Chandler, he was open to any and all possibilities.
“There was talks of guys who were gonna be on that card. I could step in and fight any of those guys,” Chandler said. “No fights have transpired. It takes two parties to sign on the dotted line. I’m ready to fight anybody in the Top 5 on Oct. 24.”
Chandler made it clear he is not hoping for misfortune to fall upon either Nurmagomedov or Gaethje prior to UFC 254, but if something does happen, he is confident in his ability to defeat either man.
“I can’t be held accountable for the decisions that are made by UFC brass,” Chandler said. “But what I will say is: I think I can beat Khabib and I think I can beat Gaethje. I think being put in the No. 1 contender’s spot does not scare me. I think being stepping in the cage with either one of those guys Oct. 24 excites me, and I think I’m gonna win. If I’ve got to wait until 2021, that excites me and I think I’m gonna win then. It’s just a matter of time in my eyes and in my mind.”
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