After spending more than a decade as one of the top stars of Bellator, lightweight Michael Chandler finally made his octagon debut at UFC 257 and it could not have gone better. Chandler scored a highlight reel KO in the first round over the always tough Dan Hooker and immediately cut an all time promo afterward:
Chandler smartly called out Conor, Poirier, and Khabib in what was the greatest moment of his storied career. He made the most of his promo time using call backs from Ric Flair, Taz, and Chael Sonnen. Lots of fighters crumble under that spotlight, but not Chandler. He’s been here for years. While Bellator may not get the coverage of UFC and is currently in no-mans land on CBS Sports Network, when they were pulling millions of viewers on Spike for their biggest fights, Chandler was always there, shining on the undercard. When he was in main event title fights, win or lose you always got a show.
Chandler has always been good. This is nothing new. But could he survive against top UFC competition? That was a fair question to ask despite holding victories in Bellator against for UFC champs Eddie Alvarez (before he was in UFC) and Benson Henderson (who was passed his prime). Octagon jitters are for real but Chandler experienced none of those.
Where Does He Go From Here? The logical next step is a title match against Dustin Poirier, who KO’d Conir McGregor in the main event. Poirier balked at that idea and stated that Chandler should fight Charles Oliveira next for a shot at Dustin. I could get behind that too. Whatever happens next for Iron Michael Chandler, you have to be really happy for him. He finally made it to the big stage and delivered in the biggest way possible.