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Michael Chandler Believes Dan Hooker Is His Toughest Challenge At Lightweight

Chandler
Mandatory Credit: Josh Hedges - Zuffa LLC

Finally slated for his promotional debut, former three-time Bellator lightweight champion, Michael Chandler makes his Octagon bow on January 23rd. at UFC 257 — tasked with knocking back stern contender, Dan ‘The Hangman’ Hooker in his first UFC walk. 

Briefly floated as a potential opponent for former interim champions, Tony ‘E Cucuy’ Ferguson and Dustin ‘The Diamond’ Poirier, both pairings failed to materialise for the Sanford MMA mainstay who put pen to paper on a multi-fight deal with the UFC following a gold-filled, ten-year stay with Scott Coker’s Bellator MMA last year. 

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Riding a two-fight winning run into the promotion, Chandler travelled to ‘Fight Island’ in October for UFC 254, successfully making lightweight championship weight as a potential backup to the unification clash of Khabib ‘The Eagle’ Nurmagomedov, and then-interim champion, Justin ‘The Highlight’ Gaethje.

With his services as a backup ultimately not required as Khabib subsequently submitted Gaethje via a second-round triangle, Chandler was then linked with a December matchup against the above mentioned, Ferguson, who himself eventually met with the surging Charles ‘Do Bronx’ Oliveira at UFC 256 in a one-sided unanimous decision loss. 

Matching with the #6 ranked, Hooker – the City Kickboxing ace featured twice in the Octagon last year, scoring two main event slots and a 1-1 record. Headlining a UFC Fight Night Auckland event in February, Hooker took home a close decision win over Paul ‘The Irish Dragon’ Felder before a barnburner UFC Vegas 5 defeat to the above mentioned, Poirier in June.

Speaking with ESPN MMA recently, Chandler detailed how the promotion had initially planned to pair him with Ferguson, Poirier, or Oliveira before they finally landed on a deal with Hooker.

Obviously, when I came in, the UFC wanted to give me a test right away — throwing around names like (Tony) Ferguson, like (Dustin) Poirier, and (Charles) Oliveira, who are number one, two, three, and four in the division, “Chandler said.”Obviously, aside from Khabib (Nurmagomedov) because he’s semi-retired right now, we’re not sure what he’s doing yet. But these were the names that they were trying to get me booked against, so it wasn’t that Dan Hooker wasn’t a formidable opponent.

Slated to match with the Kiwi in the co-main event of UFC 257 beneath a lightweight rematch of Poirier and former two-weight world champion, ‘The Notorious’ Conor McGregor, Chandler has claimed Hooker is his sternest challenge at 155-pounds.

Truthfully, he (Dan Hooker) may be one of the saltiest, nastiest, toughest challenges both physically and with his attributes inside of the Octagon than any of (the top-ranked fighters), “Chandler said. “I think that I matchup better with Poirier than I do Hooker. I think I matchup better with Gaethje than Hooker. I think I matchup better with Ferguson than Hooker. So at the end of it all, I signed with the UFC to get to the top. In order to get to the top, I have to have a fight, I have to get inside the UFC Octagon.

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