Former Bellator MMA lightweight champion “Iron” Michael Chandler may be closer to inking a UFC deal than we initially thought.
In an appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience Podcast earlier this week, Chandler played coy as Rogan made his UFC pitch to the former Mizzou Tiger wrestler. By his own admission, Chandler has a soft spot in his heart for the Viacom-owned Bellator MMA promotion, so would he, one of Bellator’s mainstays, really jump ship and land in the Octagon?
Well, it sure sounds that way.
Since defeating Brandon Girtz last month at Bellator 197, Chandler has made his way through the MMA-media gauntlet. Even though the former champ speaks highly of Bellator, the UFC is known as the destination for the best fighters in the world. Chandler feels he is among that class, too, as he explained on the JRE podcast:
“I wake up in the morning and I know I’m the best [fighter] in the world,” Chandler told Rogan. “At the end of the day, someone has to be the best, someone has to be the champ, so why not me?”
Yes, why not Chandler?
The criticism more times than not actually has nothing to do with Chandler. Everyone is so quick to point out how several former Bellator fighters have fared in the UFC. Marcin Held, Hector Lombard, Will Brooks and, to a lesser degree, Eddie Alvarez have all had precarious beginnings with the world leader in MMA.
With all due respect to the fighters that have already made the move to the UFC, Chandler is a different breed. He can truly do it all. If you need some convincing or you just forgot, go watch either of his fights with the aforementioned Alvarez. Can you really say Chandler can’t compete with the very best the UFC has to offer?
It’s conjecture at this point, but it seems the UFC is interested in the Mizzou Tiger’s services, and what UFC President Dana White wants, he usually gets.
Chandler could do more than just tread water if he’s thrown into the deep end of the lightweight division inside the Octagon. One possible first fight for Chandler in the UFC could come against the man who currently occupies the No. 5 spot in the official UFC rankings, Kevin Lee.
Lee would be a real test for Chandler. Lee has great wrestling, an ever-improving stand-up game, a wicked rear-naked choke and cardio that is off the charts. That sounds a lot like Chandler, doesn’t it? This is just one mouthwatering possibility if Chandler does make his way to the UFC — there’s always a rubber match with Alvarez, too.
There are a number of high-level, intriguing fights for Chandler. The only question is whether he’s already signed on the dotted line or if he’s just teasing us with these possibilities.