Former Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler has signed with the UFC with the news revealed by Dana White while appearing on ESPN’s SportsCenter.
The announcement comes after Chandler entered free agency and White previously indicating the two sides had talked.
White confirmed the signing and that the 34-year old lightweight would serve as the back-up in case UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov or challenger Justin Gaethje falls out of their scheduled fight at UFC 254 on October 24th.
Chandler fought for Strikeforce in the infancy of his pro career before migrating to Bellator in 2010 and became synonymous with the promotion over the next decade.
After winning the lightweight tournament in 2011 that included wins against Marcin Held, Lloyd Woodard, and Patricky “Pitbull” Freire, Chandler earned a championship shot and defeated champion Eddie Alvarez in one of the biggest fights in Bellator history.
The two met on November 19, 2011, at Bellator 58 – the same night as UFC 139 where Dan Henderson and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua had their legendary war – with Chandler submitting Alvarez in the fourth round.
Alvarez won the rematch two years later sending Chandler on a three-fight losing streak, with back-to-back losses to Will Brooks after losing the title.
While Chandler and Alvarez never had their rubber match, Chandler regained the Bellator lightweight title in June 2016 with a devastating knockout of Patricky “Pitbull” Freire.
In June 2017, he suffered a freak injury fighting Brent Primus and lost the title at Madison Square Garden. He rebounded against Goiti Yamauchi and Brandon Girtz before defeating Primus for his third and final lightweight title in Bellator.
He lost the title for the final title to Patricio “Pitbull” Freire in May 2019 and finished his Bellator contract with knockout wins against Sidney Outlaw and Benson Henderson with his final fight in the organization occurring this past August.
Chandler enters the extremely deep UFC lightweight division at age 34 with a record of 21-5.