Kevin Lee: Chandler title backup is big dig at Bellator

Three-time Bellator Lightweight World Champion Michael Chandler signed recently with the UFC, and UFC president Dana White intends to use him as backup for the UFC 254  lightweight champion Khabib Nurmadomedov vs. Justin Gaethje.

White apparently also wanted Chandler as an opponent in the co-main event vs. Dustin Poirer, after “The Diamond” declined to come to terms with the UFC over compensation for a fight vs. Tony Ferguson.

However, Poirier declined that, too.

Another top lightweight, Kevin Lee, appeared recently on SiriusXM’s Fight Nation and interpreted Chandler’s fight offer as a little FU to Bellator MMA.

“I expected them to sign Chandler,” said Lee, as transcribed by Jed Meshew for MMA Fighting. “It seemed like he was kinda getting over Bellator and he’s a competitor, so he probably actually wanted to really test himself. But the fact that they’re trying to making him the backup for Gaethje vs. Khabib, I don’t really get that. I think that’s a way for them to try and s*** on Bellator again, you know. It’s like, ‘OK let’s throw him in there with Khabib right out of the gate so Khabib can whoop his ass and now I can s*** on Scott Coker just a little bit more and make him look a little worse.”

“I think it’s more than just who he’s fought, I look at his skills too. The kid can fight. I’ve been studying him for a long-ass time, and he’s trained with a lot of UFC guys, a lot of top-level guys. You can see, he posts online a lot of his scrambles that he gets into and when you break it down technique for technique, you’re like, man, this kid is really good, but I think it’s more the magnitude of the fights. I think that might be why they’re putting him into such a big fight right out of the gate.

“You talk about Gaethje and Khabib and being on Fight Island and on ESPN for the first time, no matter what you do in your training or any of these other fights – and he’s had a lot of five-round fights, a lot of title fights – but nothing of that magnitude, with that many eyeballs on you. You get like this microscope on you almost. Those lights gets to beaming on you and it’s a little bit different. My brother fights for Bellator, he just fought this last weekend, won a great fight, but even just being there, you could see that the lights are a little bit different. They’re a little dimmer. If you watch it on TV you can kinda tell, the lights are a little dimmer. On the big stages like that, I think that’s where it might catch up to him, because he can fight, he’s good enough to be top five, but I don’t know if he’s good enough, especially at 34 years old, if he has the time to kind of adjust to them bright lights.”

“Against Gaethje he might stand a chance, but against Khabib he’s just way too small. I think Chandler’s way too small for this whole division. I actually hope he gets the fight. Then once he loses, then it might be him in the middle of next year. You never know how things are going to play out. I’ve been looking at Chandler for a long-ass time. That’s going to be a good fight.”

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