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Michael Chandler on UFC debut: I’m not going to be the next Ben Askren

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“It remains to be seen what the Michael Chandler story will be. I believe it’s going to be a lot different than Ben’s.”

Ben Askren hyped himself as the next big thing at welterweight prior to his UFC debut in 2019, but that hype was short-lived and ‘Funky’ failed to live up to expectations.

The former Bellator welterweight champion retired following a controversial submission win over Robbie Lawler at UFC 235 and subsequent stoppage losses to Jorge Masvidal and Demian Maia, making him one of the biggest flops in UFC history.

With fellow Bellator veteran Michael Chandler set to make his octagon debut against Dan Hooker at UFC 257 on Saturday, some fans feel the UFC newcomer will suffer a similar fate to Askren and be sent packing from the UFC with his tail in between his legs.

Chandler, of course, doesn’t see it that way and promises his story will play out differently.

“Listen, I’m well-aware of Ben’s fights in the UFC, his stint in the UFC,” Chandler told reporters at a UFC 257 pre-fight media scrum (h/t Abhinav Kini of The Body Lock). “I’m well-aware he seemed to be more bark than he was bite in his UFC career, I guess, going 1-2. But I can guarantee right now Ben Askren lays his head on his pillow at night and sleeps like a baby knowing that he came to the UFC, he put his best foot forward, he came up short a couple of times.

“It remains to be seen what the Michael Chandler story will be. I believe it’s going to be a lot different than Ben’s. That doesn’t make me any better or any worse than him. He’s a dear friend of mine, like a big brother to me. So we will see how the story is told. There’s a lot of people comparing me to Ben Askren, which, there’s the Mizzou connection, the friendship that we have. We shall see.”

Chandler enters the UFC riding a two-fight win streak against Sidney Outlaw and former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson and, unlike Askren, possesses knockout power as well as a much more well-rounded skillset.

Chandler will take on Hooker in the UFC 257 co-main event which is followed by a headlining tilt between lightweights Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor. The highly anticipated pay-per-view takes place Saturday, Jan. 23 at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.