Michael Chandler Beats Dan Hooker Via TKO on McGregor vs. Poirier UFC 257 Card

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistJanuary 24, 2021

Michael Chandler in action against Brent Primus during their mixed martial arts bout for the lightweight title at Bellator 180 on Saturday, June 24, 2017, in New York. Primus won the title via first round doctor stoppage. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan)
Gregory Payan/Associated Press

Michael Chandler put the UFC lightweight division on notice with a first-round TKO win over Dan Hooker in the co-main event of UFC 257 from Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on Saturday. 

After stalking Hooker for much of the first round, Chandler found his opening and landed a left hook that rocked his counterpart, and he kept throwing punches until the fight was stopped. 

The left hand was a thing of beauty and a moment that will assuredly change the landscape of the division. 

Chandler had all of the commentary booth looking like fans watching around the world as he showcased his jaw-dropping power. 

After the bout Chandler was hyped and went right to work cutting a promo on the rest of the lightweight division including main eventers Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier. 

Chandler made his name in Bellator, where he was a three-time champion in one of the promotion's deepest divisions. While some of his fights might have been against inferior competition, his wins over Benson Henderson, Patricky Freire and Eddie Alvarez are legitimate credentials. 

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He can add Hooker to that list. The New Zealander was 7-2 in his last nine fights, with his only losses coming to Edson Barboza and Dustin Poirier. 

Prominent fighters from other organizations have had checkered results when making the transition to the UFC. Alvarez went on to become a UFC champion, but Ben Askren went just 1-2 in the UFC. However, Chandler doesn't see his run in the organization panning out that way. 

Chandler told reporters:

"It remains to be seen what the Michael Chandler story will be. I believe it's going to be a lot different than Ben's. That doesn't make me any better or any worse than him. He's a dear friend of mine, like a big brother to me. So we will see how the story is told. There's a lot of people comparing me to Ben Askren, which, there's the Mizzou connection, the friendship that we have. We shall see."

At 34 years old, Chandler is making the switch to the UFC a little late in his career, so he'll need to enter the title picture soon. 

Of course, the lightweight title scene is in a state of flux. Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov announced his retirement after a win over Justin Gaethje in October, but UFC President Dana White left the door open for a return. 

"If these guys can do something special, Khabib will fight them," White announced on the UFC on ABC 1 broadcast.

Whether beating Hooker qualifies as "something special" is unclear, but with Conor McGregor and Nurmagomedov involved in the division, there's always a chance things could be on hold. 

Chandler has little time to waste if he's going to join Alvarez as a Bellator and UFC champion.