All signs lead to the Ultimate Fighting Championship being the front-runner to sign “Iron.”
ESPN reported Wednesday that the UFC is in “advanced talks” with former Bellator MMA lightweight king Michael Chandler, although the deal is yet to be finalized. “Iron” is one of the few top lightweight contenders who has yet to step into the Octagon.
Chandler (21-5) has spent most of his career under the Bellator MMA banner, where he managed to capture 155-pound championship three times. The third championship arrived at the end of the back-and-forth Bellator 212 battle that ended with the former collegiate wrestler edging his long-time rival Brent Primus. In his next match, Chandler lost his belt to Patricio Freire via first-round TKO at Bellator 221. He then managed to bounce back after scoring two first-round KO victories at the expense of Sidney Outlaw and Benson Henderson. Following the Bellator 243 bout, he started considering other options as a free agent.
According to the report, Chandler is also being considered as a viable opponent for Tony Ferguson at UFC 254. Even though the UFC never officially announced the matchup, “El Cucuy” was planned to lock horns with Dustin Poirier. However, UFC president Dana White announced that the negotiations for that matchup failed, and the promotion was seeking another fight for Ferguson.
The Ferguson-Chandler matchup is surely piquing fan interest, but the negotiations are still at an early stage.
UFC 254 takes place on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, on Oct. 24. Its headliner is a lightweight title unification bout between undefeated champ Khabib Nurmagomedov and interim titleholder Justin Gaethje.
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