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Former Bellator champion Michael Chandler signs with UFC, joins stacked lightweight division

Kevin Iole
·Combat columnist
·1 min read
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The UFC has seen a number of its fighters migrate to Bellator. On Thursday, a big one went the other way.

Former Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler signed a free-agent contract with the UFC, UFC president Dana White confirmed, and will serve as the backup at UFC 254 on Oct. 24 in Abu Dhabi if either champion Khabib Nurmagomedov or interim champion Justin Gaethje is unable to compete.

The move is a huge signing for the UFC, as the 34-year-old has long been considered among the best lightweights in the world. Chandler, a three-time Bellator lightweight champion, has participated in some of the most exciting fights of his era.

His bout with ex-UFC lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez at Bellator 58 on Nov. 19, 2011, was a contender for Fight of the Year.

He joins a stacked lightweight division that includes not only Nurmagomedov and Gaethje, but Dustin Poirier, Tony Ferguson, Conor McGregor, Dan Hooker, Charles Oliveira and Paul Felder, among many others.

The UFC’s lightweight division might be the deepest in the sport, and Chandler’s addition only adds to that. The UFC clearly believed he belonged in that company by giving him the backup position for the Nurmagomedov-Gaethje fight, which is the main event of UFC 254.

SAITAMA, JAPAN - DECEMBER 29: Michael Chandler enters the ring  during the Bellator Japan - Fedor v Rampage at Saitama Super Arena on December 29, 2019 in Saitama, Japan. (Photo by Masashi Hara/Getty Images)
Michael Chandler spent 10 years with Bellator and will now compete in the UFC's stacked lightweight division. (Photo by Masashi Hara/Getty Images)

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