Michael Chandler signs UFC deal, will serve as back up for Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Justin Gaethje at UFC 254

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Michael Chandler is getting his shot. The former Bellator MMA lightweight champion has signed a promotional deal with UFC, Dana White announced on Thursday. In doing so, Chandler will serve as the primary backup to the upcoming lightweight title bout between full champ Khabib Nurmagomedov and interim champ Justin Gaethje on Oct. 24.

Chandler (21-5) has fought nearly his entire professional career with Bellator MMA. The 34-year-old has held the promotion’s 155-pound title on three different occasions, most recently dropping it to Patricio Pitbull in May 2019. Chandler is 9-2 since 2015 with the only other loss coming by freak injury to Brent Primus in 2017. He bounced back a year later to reclaim the title by decision.

Chandler scored a first-round knockout over a former UFC lightweight champion in Benson Henderson in his most recent outing in August.

It is unclear whether Chandler will fight on the card if all goes well with Khabib and Gaethje in the lead up and weigh ins. UFC had discussed adding Dustin Poirier vs. Tony Ferguson as the co-main event to the card, but talks broke down after Poirier and UFC couldn’t come to terms on money for the fight. 

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