Michael Chandler’s octagon debut set vs. Dan Hooker at UFC 257

Michael Chandler is getting his wish to fight a top-ranked lightweight in his UFC debut.

Chandler, a former three-time Bellator champion, will make his first trip to the octagon at UFC 257 against Dan Hooker.

Two people with knowledge of the situation informed MMA Junkie that Chandler (21-5 MMA, 0-0 UFC) and Hooker (20-9 MMA, 10-5 UFC) have both agreed to the matchup. The people requested anonymity because the UFC has yet to make an official announcement.

UFC 257 takes place Jan. 23 on “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi. The card is headlined by a lightweight rematch between Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor.

Chandler signed with the UFC in 2020 following a 22-fight stint with Bellator that lasted nearly 10 years. He became one of the most decorated fighters in Bellator history during that time, but has said he couldn’t validate himself as the top 155-pound fighter in the world outside the UFC.

The 34-year-old was assigned the status of backup fighter for the lightweight title fight between champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 in October. Ultimately, Chandler’s services weren’t needed as a replacement, and now he gets to make his debut with focus on a specific opponent.

Hooker, No. 8 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMA Junkie lightweight rankings, will return to action after a loss to Poirier in their headlining bout at UFC on ESPN 12 this past June. It was a “Fight of the Year” candidate, but he came up just short on the scorecards.

A longtime featherweight, Hooker has come into his own at 155 pounds, picking up wins over Paul Felder, Al Iaquinta, Gilbert Burns and Jim Miller in recent years.

The latest UFC 257 lineup now includes:

  • Dustin Poirier vs. Conor McGregor
  • Michael Chandler vs. Dan Hooker
  • Joanne Calderwood vs. Jessica Eye
  • Marcin Prachnio vs. Khalil Rountree
  • Amanda Ribas vs. Marina Rodriguez
  • Sara McMann vs. Julianna Pena
  • Ottman Azaitar vs. Matt Frevola
  • Antonio Carlos Junior vs. Brad Tavares
  • Ottman Azaitar vs. Matt Frevola
  • Sergey Morozov vs. Umar Nurmagomedov
  • Shane Burgos vs. Hakeem Dawodu
  • Nasrat Haqparast vs. Arman Tsarukyan
  • Makhmud Muradov vs. Andrew Sanchez

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