Michael Chandler already has a potential winning lottery ticket in hand: A spot in the UFC 254 main event, should anything happen between now and Oct. 24 that causes either UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov or interim titleholder Justin Gaethje to drop out of the fight.

No doubt, anyone who’s followed this sport awhile understands there’s a real chance the former Bellator lightweight champ can end up in the fight; you also know the chances are probable that a pair as professional as Nurmagomedov and Gaethje are getting into the cage on fight night no matter what.

So that leaves an obvious next question for Chandler: If, as is likely, he doesn’t end up in the UFC 254, who should the recent free agent signing face in his UFC debut?

Through the powers of deductive reasoning, Chandler believes that with Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier looking likely to square off, he has a feeling his first trip to the octagon will see him square off with former interim champ Tony Ferguson.

“There’s been momentum brewing on Poirier’s side,” Chandler said at Thursday’s UFC 254 virtual media day. “Since he lost to Conor, he’s looked nothing but spectacular. Conor McGregor is the biggest draw in the history of combat sports. If that’s who Conor wants to fight, that’s who he’s going to fight. If I’m the guy he wants to fight, then he’s going to fight me.”

“If those two guys are matched up, that takes out two guys in the top five,” Chandler continued. “Obviously with Khabib and Gaethje lined up, Conor and Poirier, that really only leaves Tony Ferguson. So I’d love the opportunity to fight Tony Ferguson.”

The mere fact that Chandler is the backup plan for Nurmagomedov vs. Gaethje indicates the UFC plans on putting him into the deep end of the pool right away, which is just how Chandler wants it.

While a Ferguson fight seems like the most likely option, no matter how things break out, Chandler knows he’s likely to get an opponent he wants.

“I’d love the opportunity to fight anybody in the top five,” Chandler said. “We’ll see what happens but either way if I take my competitor hat off and put my fan hat on, Conor vs. Poirier is a great fight, even though I’d love to fight either of those guys.”



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