Michael Chandler Says He Would 'Love' to Face Justin Gaethje in UFC Fight

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistOctober 27, 2020

Michael Chandler is seen at a news conference promoting the Bellator Spring & Summer fight cards on Monday, March 9, 2020, in New York City. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan)
Gregory Payan/Associated Press

As he starts focusing on his eventual UFC debut, Michael Chandler has a preferred opponent in mind.

Chandler told TMZ Sports on Monday he's willing to work his way up the lightweight division but that he'd savor the opportunity to challenge Justin Gaethje.

"That's a fight that I'd love for myself and for the fans," Chandler said. "It's a fight that scares me, it's a fight that gets me excited. It's a fight that—it gets your juices flowing. If you're a mixed martial arts fan, a UFC fan, you wanna see us step into the cage together."

Gaethje lost to Khabib Nurmagomedov via second-round submission at UFC 254 this past Saturday. UFC President Dana White thought enough of Chandler, who was a three-time lightweight champion in Bellator, to make him the backup in the event one of Gaethje or Nurmagomedov was unable to fight.

With Nurmagomedov retiring, the lightweight division is now wide open in UFC. A fight with Gaethje wasn't Chandler's only proposal. In an interview with BT Sport, he threw out staging a four-man tournament to crown a new champion:

A level of self-promotion is certainly helpful when trying to get ahead in MMA.

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Perhaps Chandler can talk his way into a marquee bout right out of the gate with his new promotion.