Nurmagomedov is 28-0 as a professional and a heavy favorite, but is facing perhaps his greatest challenge.
Former Bellator champion and new UFC signee Michael Chandler inked a deal to be a back-up to the UFC 254 main event showdown between lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and interim titleholder Justin Gaethje. That wasn't the original plan, however. Chandler was originally looking to book a fight with fellow top contender Tony "El Cucuy" Ferguson and fight at UFC 254. The two of them would then be on hand as a back-up if either main eventer fell out. That bout didn't come together, but Chandler was still enlisted to travel to UFC Fight Island in Abu Dhabi to prepare as if he were fighting, make weight, and be ready to step in if anything happened to either main event fighter. The odds of that are unlikely, so it isn't surprising if Chandler looks ahead to whom he believes will be his first opponent in the Octagon. Not surprisingly, he still thinks it might be Ferguson. Khabib and Gaethje are slated to fight at UFC 254 and Dustin Poirier is expected to rematch Conor McGregor at UFC 257 in January. That leaves Chandler vs. Ferguson as the likely candidate. For his part, Chandler believes it is the perfect way to introduce himself to UFC fans and fighters, as he believes El Cucuy is the scariest match-up the UFC lightweight division has to offer. (Subscribe to MMAWeekly.com on YouTube) TRENDING > Watch the emotional tribute to Khabib and his deceased father Trending Video > UFC Fight Island 6: Brian Ortega vs Korean Zombie Recap (Subscribe to MMAWeekly.com on YouTube)
Yahoo Sports combat columnist Kevin Iole ranks his Top 10 pound-for-pound mixed martial artists in the world.