Former Bellator Lightweight Champion Michael Chandler has joined the UFC roster and is currently an alternate for the promotion’s lightweight unification bout at UFC 254. News of the signing was announced by UFC President Dana White on Thursday via ESPN program “SportsCenter.”
UFC’s October 24th pay-per-view event currently has a headlining bout between UFC Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and interim champ Justin Gaethje. Should the plan change, Chandler will be thrown into the championship fight.
The fight is scheduled to take place from “Fight Island” at Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Chandler finds himself in the position to have a rare type of UFC debut, potentially being thrown into a fight with the highest level in the division right off the bat.
Chandler, a 26-fight veteran has competed at a high level of MMA for a decade, although he has never stepped foot in the UFC. The three-time Bellator Lightweight Champion has competed in 11 championship bouts through his Bellator career that kicked off in 2010.
He had his last Bellator fight in early August, defeating Benson Henderson in the first round with strikes. Chandler declared free agency after the fight, mentioning his openness to negotiating with promotions.
“Scott Coker, you’re on the clock let’s get something done,” said Chandler in his post-fight interview, calling out Coker, the current Bellator President.
Chandler joins a list of notable names to make the jump from Bellator to UFC. Among the list is former UFC Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez, who fought 11 times in Bellator before starting a UFC career in 2014.