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‘American Wrestling vs Russian Sambo’ - Chandler hopes to ‘entice’ Khabib to return by ‘dominating’ Hooker

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“Maybe I can entice Khabib to come back for the U.S. American wrestling versus Russian Sambo and see if he can get to 30-0 and beat me — if he can,” Chandler said.

Bellator Japan Weigh-In Photo by Jun Sato/WireImage

Michael Chandler is hoping that an impressive performance against Dan Hooker in his UFC debut could entice the retired Khabib Nurmagomedov to return to the octagon.

Chandler (21-5) was signed to the UFC in September of last year after spending a decade fighting in Bellator. The 34-year-old served as a backup fighter for the title fight between Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje at UFC 254.

Booked to make his first UFC appearance against Hooker at UFC 257 later this month, Chandler revealed that “The Hangman” was not the first opponent discussed. Tony Ferguson, who lost to Charles Oliveira last month, ignored Chandler’s request for a fight.

“For some reason, he didn’t want to be on this Jan. 23 card,” Chandler said of Ferguson to MMA Fighting. “Basically he said no, said nothing, I was home, I wasn’t in fight camp and he calls me out on short notice to fight him in December. He takes a short notice fight against Charles Oliveira. He loses to Oliveira. Oliveira’s now No. 3.”

Hooker, 30, has made a name for himself at 155-pounds since returning to the division in 2017. With knockout wins against Jim Miller, James Vick and top welterweight contender Gilbert Burns, Hooker sits at #6 in the current UFC lightweight rankings.

“I want to put a stamp on my introduction for who I am to the UFC fans by finishing Dan Hooker or dominating him,” Chandler said. “It really puts me in a position to where maybe I get the winner of Conor-Poirier or I get the next title shot against Khabib.

“I think if I go out there and showcase my wrestling skills, too. I mean there’s no doubt I want to go out there and knock Dan Hooker out, but I also want to show the world my wrestling skills. I want to put a stamp on good old fashioned American wrestling. Maybe I can entice Khabib to come back for the U.S. American wrestling vs Russian Sambo and see if he can get to 30-0 and beat me — if he can.”

UFC 257 takes place on Jan. 23rd on “Fight Island” and will be headlined by a lightweight fight between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier.