Michael Chandler hopes Khabib Nurmagomedov returns for one last fight so ‘he becomes 29 and Chandler’

Michael Chandler’s UFC debut couldn’t have gone better.

The 34-year-old former Bellator star and champion entered the octagon Saturday in Abu Dhabi and became the first man to stop Dan Hooker, putting him away in the first round of their UFC 257 clash.

Now, Chandler feels “ready” to come back in action “ASAP” after what he called “the greatest victory of my life.”

The lightweight division’s future is uncertain as lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov said he’s no longer interested in competing; UFC President Dana White hopes to bring him back to the cage, though he admits that’s an unlikely outcome.

After making such a huge impact in his UFC debut, which came before Dustin Poirier’s second-round knockout over Conor McGregor, Chandler hopes to entice “The Eagle” to put the gloves on one last time.

“You guys heard me, I’d love for Khabib to come back,” Chandler said at the post-fight press conference at the Etihad Arena. “I get it, I haven’t earned the right for him to think that he’s not levels above me yet, but I promise you, I can beat that man. I promise you, if he steps into the octagon with me, he becomes 29 and Chandler, and not 30-0. So, we’ll see.”

Nurmagomedov walked away from the sport following the passing of his father in 2020 with a record of 29-0 record in the sport. His perfect 13-0 run under the UFC banner includes wins over the likes of Conor McGregor, Dustin Poirier, Justin Gaethje, Al Iaquinta, Edson Barboza and Rafael dos Anjos.

Chandler is hopeful for a chance to compete against the Russian talent, but he won’t argue against Nurmagomedov’s decision to retire if that’s what he ultimately chooses.

“Listen, Khabib, you’re the greatest of all times, you are the GOAT,” Chandler said. “You are undefeated, you’ve looked unbeatable. You are right, none of these guys can hold a candle to you. What are you gonna do, come back and rematch one of these guys? It’s not gonna happen, you don’t need to do that, you’re a champion, but when a guy who shows that he’s got a wrestling pedigree, when a guy who comes in and shows… Yeah, he’s not undefeated. Listen, I’m not undefeated. I wear my Ls on my sleeve, I got five of them. A couple of them were weird stoppages, TKO, injury, default, whatever you call it, but every single time I’ve come back better.

“I’m by no means a perfect man inside that octagon, but I promise you I can beat that man. I promise you I can beat Khabib, so I told him – I didn’t tell him personally, but I told him through the camera lens. You’ve earned every right to be able to sail off into the sunset and continue living your life and making your impact because you’ve done it thus far. But, man, if you ever do come back, there’s a man over here waiting for you from High Ridge, Missouri.”

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