Michael Chandler is ready to see the UFC’s lightweight division move on from Khabib Nurmagomedov, and has an idea of how it can do so.
Nurmagomedov announced his retirement from MMA Saturday following his successful title defense against Justin Gaethje in the UFC 254 main event. The decision left the 155-pound weight class in disarray, but could set up some potentially exciting opportunities.
Chandler (21-5 MMA, 0-0 UFC), who was the backup fighter for Nurmagomedov vs. Gaethje but was not needed, would like to see the UFC put together a tournament involving himself, Conor McGregor, Dustin Poirier and Tony Ferguson to determine the next champion.
“When a man says he’s going to go, he’s going to go – but here we are,” Chandler told BT Sport after UFC 254. “I’m excited to be a part of the UFC lightweight division right now at the top when there is no UFC lightweight champion. So we’ll see what happens next. … I did mention Tony Ferguson’s name and we were talking about January, but now we’ve got Justin Gaethje in here talking about eight weeks from tonight wanting to fight for a title. Let’s be honest: I’m the new guy. I’m not going to come in here and say, ‘Hey guys I deserve a title shot.’ I’d love my name to be thrown into the mix.”
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Although the UFC hasn’t been a proponent of tournaments since the earliest days of the sport, the lightweight belt being left up for grabs offers some good options. Chandler isn’t the only person to have suggested a tournament after UFC 254, and he said he’d like to see it materializing.
“I’d love the opportunity to fight in a four-man tournament for that title,” Chandler said. “Conor, Poirier, myself, Ferguson. There’s some names that need to be fighting for a title, so let’s make it happen.”