Chandler (21-5 MMA, 0-0 UFC), a former three-time Bellator champion, joined the UFC this year and was immediately given prominent positioning from the company in the form of a backup role for October’s lightweight title fight between Gaethje (22-3 MMA, 5-3 UFC) and Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 254.
Both men ultimately made weight and stepped into the octagon without issue, meaning Chandler’s services were not required. There’s since been speculation of who he would be booked against, but as matchups at the top of the 155-pound weight have been made, the options have narrowed.
Gaethje, Dan Hooker or Rafael dos Anjos appear to the frontrunners, and Poirier (26-6 MMA, 18-5 UFC) said he’d like to see him get the toughest of the bunch, to find out where Chandler really stands.
“I would think it would probably be him and Gaethje before him and Hooker,” Poirier told MMA Junkie. “If you’re going to toss him into the top of the division and giving him this push, give him the former interim champ who jut came off a title fight. That’s a great measuring stick to see where he’s at.”
There was talk of Chandler making his UFC debut against Tony Ferguson, but it didn’t come to fruition.
Ferguson is instead fighting Charles Oliveira at UFC 256 on Dec. 12, which is another huge fight at lightweight to compliment Poirier’s rematch with Conor McGregor at UFC 257 on Jan. 23.
“That’s a fun fight,” Poirier said. “Any fight Tony’s involved in – even Charles – he’s such a fun guy to watch. A finisher, a veteran who has been around a lot time. Those two guys are going to do a great fight.”