So the UFC is back this weekend with its first pay-per-view of the year, featuring a lightweight double-header. The headliner features the return of the UFC’s Irish golden child, but I’d rather focus on the co-main event fight right below it.
The UFC’s respect for Michael Chandler was as clear as day. Upon signing him in September, he was immediately tapped to be a back-up for Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje at UFC 254.
Based on Chandler’s past credentials alone, that reverence was all warranted. And if we speak about his Bellator run, one fight that automatically stands out is his first fight against then-champion Eddie Alvarez at Bellator 98 in 2011.
On paper, Alvarez had the hefty advantage based on experience alone. He already had 24 fights under his belt and had competed both in the US and overseas. But that didn’t faze the challenger, who entered the contest at 8-0.
Now, we all know how much Alvarez loves a dog fight. Chandler obliged with one as soon as the first round began and even buckled the champ early on. That opening stanza already had the makings of a classic, as both fighters pushed the pace with little to no care about defense or cardio.
Alvarez took advantage of rounds two and three as Chandler’s output slightly dipped. Come round four, the challenger turned it back up. But it was in those last two and half minutes when Chandler began clinching the biggest victory of his career at the time.
I won’t break the fight down any further and just let you all relive it through the video highlight below. You can watch the full fight here.
Chandler drew the ever-dangerous Dan Hooker as his opponent for his UFC debut. And as the man himself stated, we will see if he can indeed live up to the hype behind him.