Next weekend, UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov will defend his title against Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 on Fight Island. But before “The Eagle” flies again, he does his best to seek out one of his most reliable teammates.
Nurmagomedov’s longtime training partner Islam Makhachev was supposed to face former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos next weekend on the main card at UFC 254. Unfortunately, dos Anjos has been taken out of the game. the card after testing positive for COVID-19 and, during the rush to find a replacement, Khabib suggested Tony Ferguson fight Islam, with his manager Ali Abdelaziz even offering to pay Ferguson $ 200,000. Ferguson rejected the offer and, unable to find a replacement opponent for Makhachev, the UFC ultimately pulled him off the card. But while the odds of a fight next weekend are slim, Khabib has now gone from Ferguson to targeting another big name: former Bellator champion Michael Chandler.
On his YouTube channel, MMA analyst and former title challenger Chael Sonnen reported that he spoke to Khabib who told him that if Chandler fights Makhachev and wins, then Khabib would consider him the top contender.
“(Khabib) said, ‘Chael, I’m watching your videos, I need to tell you something. I want this to be very clear, ”said Sonnen. “He said, ‘I have no one closer than Islam.’ And he said, “I’m telling you now, if Michael Chandler beats Islam, I’ll consider Michael Chandler (as) the number one candidate, and I want you to spread the word.” I said, ‘OK, Khabib, when I get the message across I’ll say you called me, you told me that.’ He says, “This is what I do. Get this message across. ”
Chandler is the newest addition to the UFC lightweight division. Competing there for most of his career, Chandler won the Bellator lightweight title three times and wrote his name in the Bellator record books. But this summer, Chandler finally left Bellator and signed with the UFC, causing a stir while doing so. Although he never made the promotion, Chandler had a significant opportunity at UFC 254 as a backup contender for the main event. If either Khabib or Gaethje are forced out of the fight, Chandler will make his debut competing for a UFC title. And since he and Makhachev are both already in Abu Dhabi and gearing up / preparing for fights, a last minute fight between the two might still be manageable and Sonnen thinks Chandler would be up to it.
“I was only slightly wondering why I was told that as far as it is concerned there’s no way Chandler was offered Islam and Chandler said no,” Sonnen said. “Usually when I get a call like this it’s because a guy isn’t coming to the table. I would be stunned to hear that happen. I am very confident to tell you that this did not happen. I am very confident. Michael Chandler will step in and fight anyone. In fact, he’s waiting for that phone call.
With the prospect of a real title on the line, Chandler may be. At 34, Chandler is nearing the end of his early fighting years, so he has little time to waste. Something like this could provide him with a shortcut to the beginning of the line at 155. However, there is the problem here that Khabib has already said something similar to someone else.
Responding to constant requests as to who he might choose to fight next if he overtakes Gaethje, Khabib has previously said that whoever beats Dustin Poirier is the one he would deem worthy of a title shot, even if that man was. his best rival Conor McGregor. And as fate will have it, things seem to be moving towards a McGregor and Poirier fight early next year, which means Chandler may have to act fast because, as Sonnen pointed out, Khabib is a man of his word.
“I think it’s really simple. Islam must ask Chandler, “Do you want to beat me?” Get Sean Shelby involved and do the fight, ”Sonnen concluded. “I’m in this game. Khabib just sweetened the pot. He didn’t say Chandler would be next, he said, “I’ll consider him the number one candidate.” We all know what this means. Khabib is a man of honor. He is a man of respect. . . If Khabib sees you as the guy, you will be the guy against Khabib.
As always, it pays to have friends up high.
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Ready to scrap.
Hope I will fight again someday!
– Francis Ngannou (@francis_ngannou) October 15, 2020
Dodson says he’s coming back.
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AJ McKee (16-0) contre Darrion Caldwell (14-3); Bellator 253, Nov.19.
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All BS aside, Islam Makhachev is actually Chandler’s good first opponent. Good guy on the sidelines of the top 10, attached to one of the biggest names in the division. If Chandler beats Makhavchev, very easy to book him in a No.1 fight, and if he loses, it’s a big win for Makhachev. Much to gain on both sides and the two will just be sitting in Abu Dhabi. They really should get there.
Thanks for reading, enjoy the fights and see you on Monday.
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