For many fans, the UFC is for mixed martial arts what the NFL is for professional football.
In reality, it’s somewhere between the NFL and the boxing landscape, with a promotion as the clear leader in MMA, but also many top talents who thrived in the octagon after arriving from secondary world funding. Case in point: four of the last nine men who owned UFC light gold (undisputed or temporary) were champions with organizations like WEC (Benson Henderson and Anthony Pettis), Bellator (Eddie Alvarez) and World Series of Fighting (Justin Gaethje), in most cases within two years of their UFC debut.
Michael Chandler, who will make his octagon debut against Dan Hooker in UFC 257 pay-per-view co-headlier on Saturday, wants to finish Join this championship club in 2021. He comes to his 155 pound competition at UFC Fight Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, as a former three-time Bellator champion.
Many hardcore fight fans would say that Chandler, who in his previous two promotion shared classic championship fights with Alvarez and fought two fights against Henderson after the former UFC fighter came over as a valued free agent, has always been one of the best top lightweights on the planet. Good luck convincing the UFC audience. That fact got stuck in Chandler’s creep.
« Yes, it really did just because I knew my skills and knew I was living the champion’s lifestyle, » Chandler told the Post in a phone interview on Wednesday. « … But it’s just a testament to what the UFC has built. What Dana [White, UFC President] has built over the last  years is just amazing. They have a global mixed martial arts Platform built, a global sports franchise that goes beyond the sport itself. Those letters UFC have become synonymous with the big leagues, you know? So I always knew and trust myself, I had to swallow a ton of pride. « < 34-year-old Chandler (21-5, 16 finishes), who made his pro MMA debut in Missouri just months after completing his All-American wrestling career, has been all about the since his second fight promoted worldwide promotions Bellator and Strikeforce. Chandler made his mark early on in Bellator, beating Alvarez by submitting his ninth professional fight to become the champion in November 2011. Chandler firmly believes that former Division I wrestlers like himself are the best fighters and the high Promote stakes of participation in the NCAA tournament in front of tens of thousands. Even then, most fighters follow his path of competing on the regional scene only once, not before joining the world championship title stage. It's a way he thinks was positive for him when he joined the UFC. He "naturally" states that this is the greatest show in the sport. This is especially true on Saturday night when crossover superstar Conor McGregor takes on Dustin Poirier in his headlining rematch.
« You think I’m fighting in a barn somewhere, » said Chandler, who worked at Madison in June 2017 Square Garden lost a title shot to Brent Primus after a doctor pulled over an ankle injury. « But I just fought. » on top-class, top-class cards. “
Despite having a wrestling background and using his base, Chandler has built a reputation as an action finisher with nine (T) KOs and seven submission wins in his ledger. Each of his last two fights for Bellator were knocked out within three minutes, the latter against Henderson in a rematch in August. It was only the second time the ex-UFC champion has been stopped by strikes over 38 career fights. « I have a great track record of fighting over and over again exciting fights, » said Chandler. « Listen, I’m not unbeaten. I’ve got my lumps. I’ve got my losses. I’ve recovered every time. I’ve never been in a boring fight. Win, lose or tie, I come to entertain I come to have a good time. «
Those who don’t know Chandler may wonder why, if he’s such a world-class lightweight, he didn’t move on to the octagon sooner. For the past decade, he has had the opportunity to leave Bellator, with whom he has had a « great scenario » and a « good business relationship, » through an independent agency since becoming champion. But something about the move didn’t feel right until September when he signed with the UFC, be it then-champion McGregor putting the division on hold to box Floyd Mayweather or current champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson, booked multiple times to fight never make it into the cage.
But Chandler always believed his career path would lead him to UFC if the timing was right, as he believes it will now be against New Zealand’s hooker is (20-9, 17 placements).
« Every time there was something that made me hesitate, » said Chandler. “I always knew that jumping to the UFC was the right thing from a competition standpoint, from a platform standpoint. I always knew that. “
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