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Michael Chandler wants top opponent for UFC debut: ‘Either I am who I say I am, or I’m not’

With the date of his UFC debut still up in the air, newly-signed Michael Chandler already has his eye on the company’s top five lightweights.

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On Wednesday, Michael Chandler officially signed with the UFC. And with the date of his debut still pending, the three-time Bellator lightweight champion already has his eye on the company’s top five 155-pounders.

“You gotta keep the main thing the main thing,” Chandler said in a recent conversation with TMZ Sports. “And the main thing is me staying in the gym, preparing for Khabib, Gaethje, Ferguson, Poirier, Conor... any of those guys in the top five. I told the UFC, I said, ‘Listen, I’m not here for long time, I’m here for a good time.’ I want to jump right into that top five right away.

“Either I am who I say I am, or I’m not. Sink or swim, throw me in their with the wolves and let’s see where I come out.”

With all of his accomplishments as an 11-year veteran of the sport, the 34-year-old Chandler believes he’s worthy of getting an elite opponent.

“I’ve said it for 11 years: I’m the best lightweight on the planet,” he said. “Have I disproven that theory numerous times by losing or having underwhelming performances? Absolutely. People love a winner, but they love even more the winner who loses and comes back and sets himself up for a comeback.

“I’ve gone through a lot in this sport and nothing can take this opportunity away from me. October 24th, if it is October 24th, I’m going to be ready. And I think I’m just a different animal.”

Chandler will serve as a back-up fighter for UFC 254’s headliner between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje on Fight Island, in Abu Dhabi.