A newly signed UFC star will finally make his promotional debut after joining the ranks back in September. According to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, Michael Chandler will face Dan Hooker in the co-main event of UFC 257 on January 23.
Okamoto posted, “Official. Hooker (@danthehangma) vs. Chandler (@MikeChandlerMMA) is on for UFC 257 in Fight Island. A few last minute logistical hurdles needed to be cleared, but it’s now all set. 20 days away. Who you got?”
Official. Hooker (@danthehangma) vs. Chandler (@MikeChandlerMMA) is on for UFC 257 in Fight Island. A few last minute logistical hurdles needed to be cleared, but it’s now all set. 20 days away. Who you got? pic.twitter.com/y2WkXFcPHR
— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) January 3, 2021
UFC 257 Features Huge Lightweight Showdowns
UFC 257 now features two sterling 155-pound matchups. Hooker vs. Chandler is a riveting matchup between two of the best 155-pound fighters in the world.
Of course, the main event will also showcase the return of UFC superstar Conor McGregor vs. ex-interim champ Dustin Poirier in an even more important 155-pound contest.
[ #UFC257 | #InAbuDhabi | @VisitAbuDhabi ] pic.twitter.com/8tdxC7iHIc
— UFC (@ufc) January 2, 2021
UFC 257: Poirier vs. McGregor 2 is a rematch. McGregor defeated Poirier via 1st-round knockout in 2014 when both fighters were competing in the featherweight division.
Now, the two lightweight contenders will lock horns to make a case for nabbing next crack at the UFC lightweight championship.
In fact, all four fighters, McGregor, Poirier, Chandler, and Hooker, will sort of be doing that at UFC 257.
Chandler Signed With UFC 4 Months Ago
Chandler signed with the UFC four months ago after a strong run over in Bellator MMA that saw the American become a three-time Bellator lightweight champ.
After signing with the UFC in 2020, Chandler served as the backup fighter for the main event matchup at UFC 254 between UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and interim champion Justin Gaethje in October.
But the 34-year-old wasn’t called to duty that night in Abu Dhabi after both fighters made it into the Octagon.
Nurmagomedov defeated Gaethje via 2nd-round submission.
While UFC president Dana White has kept the 32-year-old Russian listed as the UFC’s 155-pound champ in hopes of luring him back to the cage for one more megafight in 2021, Nurmagomedov has consistently stated since leaving his gloves in the cage at UFC 254 that he was retiring for good.
Khabib Nurmagomedov laid his gloves down in the Octagon after announcing his retirement at #UFC254 pic.twitter.com/dZKLMPhVQt
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) October 24, 2020
So Chandler entered the scene at just the right time if he hopes to duke it out with the rest of the field to crown the UFC’s next 155-pound champ.
Must-Win Fight Between Chandler and Hooker at UFC 257
Chandler had been tied to several other high-profile 155-pound fighters over the last few months, most notably former interim champion Tony Ferguson, but none of those bouts ended up happening.
Now, Chandler will face popular UFC contender Hooker in a must-win fight for both should either want to seriously contend for UFC gold anytime soon in a stacked division.
Hooker hasn’t competed inside the Octagon since losing a close decision in a “Fight of the Year” candidate to Poirier last summer.
Highlights | Michael Chandler Top Knockouts | Bellator MMACheck out Michael Chandler’s best knockouts in Bellator cage as he makes his way back into the cage for #Bellator237. Upcoming events: http://www.bellator.com/events Subscribe for more Bellator MMA content! http://bit.ly/SubscribeBellatorYT Follow Bellator MMA Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BellatorMMA Twitter: https://twitter.com/BellatorMMA Instagram: https://instagram.com/bellatormma/ Snapchat: BellatorNation Check out the Bellator MMA App: http://www.bellator.com/app #Michael Chandler2019-12-28T11:00:04Z
Meanwhile, Chandler stopped Benson Henderson in the first round of the main event at Bellator 243 in August.
Hooker vs. Chandler is a riveting fight that should help decide the future of the men’s lightweight division.
Both fighters look like major players at 155 pounds, so neither can afford to take a loss in such a deep division.
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