Dan Hooker Changes His Approach


“I changed my whole outlook; changed my whole approach to the sport. The way I was approaching it was the reason I kept getting into fights like that. It’s like changing part of your character or changing part of who you are, which is not a thing you can be aware of and just click your fingers and be like ‘Oh, I need to throw my right hand a bit more’ or ‘I needed to throw a lift-kick a bit more.’ Something technical is simple to change. But your entire approach to the sport, which is like your entire approach to life? It’s a massive shift.”

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His shift proved that despite training with the same people day after day, month after month, year after year, that you can still have those eye-opening moments that help you plot a new course. And it’s yet another credit to Eugene Bareman’s tutelage at New Zealand’s City Kickboxing.

“I’ve come to the realization that I like to fight more than I like to win. Then I’m going out and watching my teammates like Israel [Adesanya] go out and fight very technically. I’m going out and watching Alex Volkanovski. His fight against Max Holloway had to be the biggest shift. Because he had a tough first two rounds, getting caught early. At that moment then, I would have just been like, ‘Oh well, let’s go then! My back’s against the wall. Let’s fight back.’ But he stayed so composed. He stayed so technical, and it led to the result that he got. It led to him retaining the world title. So I can learn from my teammates and emulate different parts of that. Less of going out there to get in a fight. More to win a contest.”

UFC Announces Two Upcoming Main Events


UFC 258: Usman vs Burns

Dominant UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman will face one of his toughest tests to date on February 13, as he meets former teammate Gilbert Burns in the main event of UFC 258. On a 16-fight win streak, Usman has defeated Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal in defense of the title he took from Tyron Woodley in 2019, and now he puts his belt on the line against the surging „Durinho,“ who has won six in a row on his way to the biggest fight in his career.

UFC Fight Night: Edwards vs Chimaev

The breakout star of 2020, Khamzat Chimaev came out of nowhere to capture the imagination of fight fans around the world, and on March 13, he headlines his first UFC event when he faces the third-ranked welterweight in the world, Leon Edwards. Fighting out of Birmingham, England, Edwards has won eight in a row as he chases a world title shot, and he is eager to put an end to the rise of Chimaev, who only took a little over two months to keep his unbeaten record intact with three straight Performance of the Night finishes.

2021 Is Mike Davis’ Chance To Make Up Lost Ground


“The worst year ever. The worst year I’ve ever experienced in my entire life.”

That appears to be the consensus, but Davis makes it clear that he really means it when he makes a statement like that. 

“Do you want details?” he asks.

Of course. And what followed was a 12-month run that takes “worst year ever” to new heights.

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“We’ll start from the beginning,” said Davis, who makes his first start since a spectacular knockout of Thomas Gifford in October 2019 when he faces unbeaten Mason Jones on Wednesday. “January, I broke my ribs when I was supposed to fight in February, and I had to back out of that fight.”

The February bout against Giga Chikadze had fireworks written all over it, but the injury kept Davis from making the date. When he was healed up in March, he went back to the gym, but the COVID-19 pandemic shut everything down, leaving him without a place to train until the middle of April.

“I get back to training and I get offered that same fight at the end of April, two weeks’ notice, so I take it,” Davis said of the rescheduled Chikadze bout, now set for May 16. Without being able to work in the gym consistently, Davis had some work to do to get down to the featherweight limit of 145 pounds.

“I say I’ll just run every day to get the weight off; that didn’t work because I ended up with an infection in my face and it was drying out my body. I couldn’t maintain any water whatsoever. No matter how much water I drank, I was always dehydrated. The doctors came up to the room while I was cutting weight and said I was physically unable to cut anymore.”

The bout with Chikadze was scrapped a second time. Then came June.

“So June, I get really sick. It may have been COVID, but I never tested positive. I got tested two days after I got sick when I was finally feeling good enough to get up. Negative test. I tested a week after that, negative test and a week after that, negative test. So I’m feeling good now, it’s July, and I get hit by a car riding my bicycle down the street.”

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This is the worst year ever and there are still five months to go. 

“The worst,” he chuckles. “But there’s some more.” 

“I got a bunch of fractures on the left side of my body. It was kind of a hit and run. He stopped, was like, you okay, and I was so mad that I was throwing my bike off the side of the road and I guess me moving around stated that I was fine, so he left. My shoulder’s really jacked up, so all of August I’m just running. I run all of August and tear my meniscus. Torn meniscus, my shoulder’s healed up and now I’m using my arms a lot. I’m hitting the bags, doing boxing a lot and I do some damage and get a mini-tear in my labrum.”

Around this time, most would have given up on fighting and considered getting an office job somewhere.

“Pretty much,” said Davis, who finally healed up and told the UFC that he wanted a fight. He got one in Welsh phenom Jones, a two-division Cage Warriors champ making his UFC debut.

“They give me that Mason Jones kid and I said, I don’t care, let’s go.”

And here we are. Actually, there’s one more kick to 2020 for Davis, who went back to his home state of New York for the holidays, hoping to see some snow.

“They had a blizzard on Tuesday, but then all of a sudden the weather got really warm and melted all the snow.”

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At this point, he has to laugh.

“I try to not say my 2020 was terrible, but honestly, it was really bad.”

At least he made it through, and now he’s got a fight with a lot of eyeballs on it and the chance to secure his first winning streak as a UFC fighter with a victory in Abu Dhabi.

“I’m looking forward to 2021 starting off really nice,” the 28-year-old said. “I get a fight, I get to travel to a place I’ve never been, it’s all-inclusive, so it’s really, really nice. And I’m very thankful for the opportunity to go against a game opponent like Mason Jones. It’s pretty cool.”

That’s not an attitude most would have, but kudos to Davis for looking at the positives of the last 12 months.

“I just believe that everything happens for a reason,” he said. “I know that’s said a lot, but throughout my life, I’ve been tested, and I thought of 2020 as the ultimate test of my life. I’m thinking that if I can make it through 2020, then I believe that I’m ready for the next step of life. I’m ready to keep going.”

So what does 2021 hold for Florida’s “Beast Boy”?

“Three or four fights, a few travel trips, and my name growing so I can start to use my name to develop and help people the way I want to,” he said. “I want this year to be a growth year. I want people to start recognizing who I am.”

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Tyson Nam Was Made For Battle


In the Throwback Thursday post from October, Nam is seen sitting in the backseat of some sort of contraption, barefoot and flying high above Victoria Falls in Zambia. In the realm of daredevils, this little trip from 2015 takes things up several notches.

“I do recall that, yes,” he laughs.

So why, Tyson, why?

“I guess I really didn’t care,” he said. “That contraption is literally a paraglider with a lawnmower engine attached to it.”

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Wow. Speechless.

“It made absolutely zero sense,” Nam continues. “It was definitely high; a little step off and you’ll definitely become a pancake. But the picture was exactly how high it looked, where you’re how many hundreds or thousands of feet above land. It was one of those things where you want to stay in the craft.”

But would he do it again if given the opportunity?

“I would. This is the weirdest thing: If I’m hiking alongside a cliff and the cliff is 50 feet away, my legs stop working from fear. But for some reason, a rollercoaster ride or some sort of sketchy flying device and I’m actually okay. It’s not bad at all.”

Suffice to say that Nam is fearless. But say that to him and he’ll make a correction.

“I would say at least fifty percent of the time I’ll go through life without fear,” he said. “It’s almost excitement when I do something that’s dangerous. It’s just those handful of things that will really scare me to where my body literally shuts down, whether it’s heights, centipedes, spiders.”

He laughs.

“But I’ll fight any man alive.”

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Well, there you go. When you’ve flown over a waterfall in a lawnmower engine-propelled machine, fighting for 15 minutes or less in the Octagon with rules and a referee involved can’t seem all that bad. Maybe it’s why the Hawaii native has done this professionally 32 times, with fight number 33 coming up on Wednesday against Matt Schnell. It’s a badge of honor to be able to fight in this sport alone. Making it to the UFC? That’s a big badge.

“Maybe one percent of athletes will step into a cage to actually get into a fist fight,” he said. “Probably 90 to 95 percent of people will go into an MMA gym one day, get punched in the face and never return. But you’ve got that one percent of people that actually stick around, do the actual training, get beaten up, come the next day and ask for more and they’ll get in the cage and fight. One percent of that one percent gets to fight in the cage in the UFC. I’m no mathematician, but that’s a really small percentage of fighters that get to do that. So I’m very lucky, very grateful that I stuck it out to where I’m at right now.”

It wasn’t an easy road, with contract issues and key losses keeping him out of the UFC until he finally got his shot in 2019. Then he lost his first two Octagon bouts to Sergio Pettis and Kai Kara-France, but he stayed the course and in his most recent appearances, he scored knockouts of Zarrukh Adashev and Jerome Rivera that earned him a spot in the flyweight top 15. That’s a full 180 for the 37-year-old, who does know that he can’t do this forever. But for the moment, he’s embracing every second of it, knowing that one day when he won’t be fighting, at least he’ll have a host of memories of a life fully lived.

“I think about that every single day,” he said. “I went where to do what against whom? (Laughs) I must be a little bit crazy. But it’s definitely something where I’m keeping track, and after this career is said and over, at least I still have video clips, memorabilia to say, ‘Oh yeah, I used to do that thing called MMA.’”

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But then what? The adrenaline junkie in him won’t likely be satisfied by long walks on the beach in Waipahu.

“I might have to pick up a new hobby, like surfing,” he said. “Something active that will keep my blood circulating throughout this body that’s somewhat healthy and somewhat exciting because many years ago, I tried surfing, I loved it and the feeling that a surfer says they get when they’re on top of a wave, there’s no other feeling like it. You’re almost in a trance and almost floating on clouds when you’re riding a wave. It’s nothing I can actually describe; you gotta experience it for yourself. So maybe something of that sort.”

But that’s a while away for Nam, who has nothing on his mind but fighting at the moment.

View Nam’s Athlete Profile

“I’m all-in on this MMA thing,” he said. “I can’t even think about anything other than MMA. The only thing I know I’m doing is MMA.”

So a 9 to 5 just wouldn’t cut it, would it?

“I have done that in the past, and it’s definitely not my cup of tea,” he laughs. “I was made to do something that’s a little more exciting, dangerous, and I feel like that’s what I was put on this Earth to do.”

Clearly, Nam, like his peers in the fight game, was cut from a different cloth than most. He knows that in this day and age, young people don’t come up the way he did. That’s not necessarily a good thing.

He tells the story of how a rowdy kid got straightened out by his brother.

“I was a temper tantrum baby, and in public – it could be in the middle of a restaurant, the middle of a store – I would throw myself down and start yelling and screaming and crying. One time when I did it, I must have been around three or four and I’m with my older brother, who’s like 11 years older than me. And my mom tells my brother, ‘Hey, can you go handle that?’ So he picks me up, slaps me, and tells me, ‘Now you have something to cry about.’ (Laughs) And I don’t remember this because I was so young, but after that, my parents said I never did it again.”

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Nam laughs.

“It seems like today, everybody is a lot softer, physically, mentally, socially.”

Not Tyson Nam. He’s at least 50 percent fearless, though I would give him the whole one hundred percent. Oh yeah, he’s getting into another fistfight on Wednesday. And hopefully a few more before 2022 arrives. So what does this year look like, Mr. Nam?

“2021 is gonna be a continuation of what I started in 2020 and that’s just to keep going up, up, up that ladder in the UFC flyweight division,” he said. “2020 was the best year of my MMA career. When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade and that’s exactly what I did. And I plan on making a big gallon of lemonade in 2021.”

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Ike Villanueva’s Optimism Pushes Him Forward


“I believe it was the cut,” he said. “She knew how much I put into this training camp, and for me to go out like that, it happens. It’s the fight game. She’s understanding, but not that much. (Laughs) It was just a freak accident, but it’s what we signed up for, it’s the fight game.”

The loss, the second in two UFC appearances for the Houston native, was a crushing one, but it wasn’t anything seeing his baby girl couldn’t cure.

“Oh man, most definitely,” he said. “My kids are getting older, but this one, it’s like I’m rejuvenated. It’s starting over again, me and my wife. I’ll go train, and I’m a tough guy at the gym, but then I come home and I’m watching Cocomelon. (Laughs) It’s crazy, but I’m enjoying it. It’s a blessing.”

The 36-year-old has taken those good vibes, erased the memory of a 2020 that he’d like to forget when it comes to his time in the Octagon, and is now looking straight ahead with optimism at a year that begins on Wednesday when he faces Vinicius Moreira on UFC Fight Island.

“I just got through the hardest year of my life in 2020, was blessed with the greatest daughter I can be blessed with, and if I can get through 2020, 2021 it’s time to come up and I’m excited for it.”

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UFC Unfiltered: Cody Garbrandt, Amanda Ribas & Nasrat Haqparast


Matt is still gallivanting in Abu Dhabi with Dana White and Din Thomas, so pal of the show Phoenix Carnevale is back to co-host today’s episode of UFC Unfiltered!

Jim and Phoenix begin the show breaking down all the action from UFC Fight Night: Holloway vs Kattar, including Max Holloway’s masterful performance in the main event and some underdog KO wins from Li Jingliang and Alessio Di Chirico.

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Amanda Ribas is the first guest to call in ahead of her matchup against Marina Rodriguez at UFC 257 on Saturday. She shares how being in a family of fighters has forged her path in MMA, how hard it is to stay away from the hotel candy spread while cutting weight, and her theory on what makes a great UFC champion. 

Then, Nasrat Haqparast joins Jim and Phoenix on the show. He discusses how he’s matured since his loss to Drew Dober, getting hooked on MMA after taking classes to lose weight as a teen, and his upcoming bout against Arman Tsarukyan at UFC 257 this Saturday.

Finally, Cody Garbrandt closes the show with a candid conversation on everything from the struggles he endured while battling an infection that landed him in the hospital, recent injuries, the horrible effects covid-19 had on him, to a potential matchup against Jose Aldo.

Amanda Ribas: Punches And Positivity


Waterson and Esparza sit higher in the rankings than Rodriguez currently, but Ribas dismisses any notion that she’s disappointed by the latest opponent change.

“No, because one is a complement of another one. For me now, I am Amanda Ribas more complete than the Amanda Ribas who fought against Paige [VanZant],” she explains, noting she believes everything happens for a reason. “Maybe it’s not the time for her fight against me. Now is the time for me to fight against Marina. I’ll give my best in the Octagon. Because she’s really tough. Because I am tough, too. And I like to fight.”

That much is evident. The 27-year-old has compiled a 10-1 record since turning pro in 2014, with her lone loss occurring nearly six years ago. In each successive bout, one can witness a continued evolution in her game, a phenomenon she credits to her willingness to learn.

“In all training I learn something. My coaches will say something to me, and I’ll be like ‘Oh my goodness, I didn’t know about that.’ This is good, because it shows me how I can be better. If in training you don’t get one percent better, it was not a good training (session).”

The method has paid obvious dividends in the Octagon, where Ribas seems to be having as much fun as she does outside of it…something relatively difficult to imagine when you speak with her.

Michael Chiesa Welcomes A True Test in Neil Magny


The 33-year-old Washington state native had spent nearly a full year on the sidelines due to various injuries and the restrictions created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Chiesa (17-4) saw the experience that fighters were having on UFC Fight Island and decided that the chance to compete in “a bubble” like the one created in Abu Dhabi was a once in a lifetime shot.

That’s when “Maverick” got the call to headline UFC Fight Island 8 against the surging Neil Magny.

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“I was out here for three weeks and I got settled in I was like ‘I want to fight here; I want to be a part of this UFC Fight Island experience because this is once in a lifetime.’ So, when I came out here and I got a feel for UFC Fight Island I could see myself having a fight week here,” Chiesa told “He (Magny) is an awesome guy and there’s not a lot of bad things you can say about him, but I got to go out and beat him. It’s going to be a fun fight and it’s a fight that makes sense. It’s a fight that’s going to be good for us and it’s going to be a fight that’s fun for the fans. May the best man win.”

UFC Fight Night: Chiesa vs Magny Cold Open

UFC Fight Night: Chiesa vs Magny Cold Open

Thanks to that time away from the cage, Chiesa was able to get healthy and refine some things as he aims to make his run to the top of the stacked welterweight division.

It was admittedly tough for Chiesa to sit back while the division continued to develop without him, but now that he’s ready to rock, he believes that an impressive performance over someone as tough as Magny could launch him to where he wants to be.

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“Neil and I have kind of been clamoring at each other for a while to fight. He’s ranked one spot below me and I think the rankings are still relevant, but I think they are kind of taking a back burner. I think if you go out and have an impressive fight, that can really catapult you up the rankings,” Chiesa said. “I’m not as focused on fighting the guys ahead of me, especially when they booked this fight, like everybody was booked. The landscape of the division was like this, and this is the guy that makes the most sense and I’m glad we get to do it.”

A win would give Chiesa the momentum he needs to ascend the ranks at 170 pounds, something that he’s been patient about so far. But after missing the entire 2020 campaign, Chiesa knows that a victory over Magny would put him in perfect position to have the type of 2021 he needs to push for a shot at the title.

When a fighter is away from competition for a lengthy period of time, the question of “ring rust” always seems to pop up. Chiesa is well aware of the concept and actually had a year plus gap between performances back in 2016-2017.

He believes he learned from that experience and now that he’s focused on becoming a better mixed martial artist, rather than on getting his body to make weight at 155 pounds, “ring rust” won’t be a factor.

He’s just going to make the walk at Etihad Arena and be the best Michael Chiesa he can be.

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“I’m just focused on the win. I don’t want to set too many expectations for myself with my first fight back in a year, but I’m very confident I’m going to win; there’s no doubt about that. I’m not going to set some expectation for myself and try to pursue that,” Chiesa said. “I don’t want anything that’s going to create any lapse in my focus. I’m just focused on getting my hand raised and I’m envisioning that and whatever it takes to get to that, I’m willing to do it.”

Top Finishes: Michael Chiesa

Top Finishes: Michael Chiesa

Chiesa is quick to point out he is focused on the challenges that Magny, winner of his last three bouts, brings to the table. Attributes such as Magny’s toughness, gas tank and frame make this fight an exciting one for Cheisa.

“I like the challenges he presents from a skill standpoint and just from where his strengths are, and I’m excited to go out there and test myself,” Chiesa said. “I have five rounds to do it and I have five rounds to get the job done, so I’m really looking forward to this main event.”

Watch UFC Fight Night at a special time This Wednesday: Prelims begin at 9am ET, Main Card at 12pm ET

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Sumudaerji Expects His Rise To Continue


If there were a mixed martial arts equivalent, it would be something along the lines of “If a breakout performance transpired on the prelims, does it really make an impact?”

The answer, in both cases, is yes — a felled tree crashing to the forest floor still emits a sound and a preliminary card breakthrough viewed by diehard fight fans can still be extremely impactful.

Just ask Sumudaerji.

In late November, the Chinese prospect stepped into the Octagon for the third time, making his first appearance in the UFC flyweight ranks. Paired off with Malcolm Gordon in the second fight of the night, “The Tibetan Eagle” soared, displaying clean, technical striking as he stunned the Canadian veteran with a series of long left hands that eventually put Gordon on the canvas and brought the bout to a halt just 44 seconds after it began.

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UFC Vegas 15: Sumudaerji delivers a lighting quick KO against Malcom Gordon

UFC Vegas 15: Sumudaerji delivers a lighting quick KO against Malcom Gordon

With one standout performance in an under the radar pairing, the young prospect, who turns 25 on Wednesday, has gone from relative unknown to rising star in the flyweight division, and a must-see attraction in his hometown.

“Now a lot of people from my hometown know the UFC,” Sumudaerji said through a translator ahead of his return to action this week against Zarrukh Adashev. “1.3 billion people are watching the fight; they are really supporting me.”

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After beginning his UFC tenure with a pair of appearances in the bantamweight division, Sumudaerji opted to shift back down to the 125-pound ranks.

It’s not that he couldn’t hang at bantamweight, as he scored a dominant decision win over Andre Soukhamthath in his sophomore appearance in the Octagon, showing signs of the skill and potential that earned him a place on the UFC roster in the first place; it’s that right now, flyweight feels like the more natural fit, though he’s not ruling out a move back up the ladder somewhere down the line.

“Before I signed with the UFC, I was fighting at flyweight, so it was a natural move,” he said when asked about the decision to relocate for his lone appearance of 2020. “Maybe one day I’ll go back to 135.”

A pro since 2016, Sumudaerji is part of a growing wave of talented competitors from China now plying their trade inside the famed Octagon and someone who has benefitted greatly from the opening of the UFC Performance Institute in Shanghai in the spring of 2019.

“I was born to fight, so I wanted to have as many fights as soon as possible,” said Sumudaerji, who had amassed 14 appearances prior to making his UFC debut in November 2018 as a 22-year-old and hopes to see others follow a similar path to the Octagon.

RELATED: Sumudaerji Is On The Rise | View Sumudaerji’s Athlete Profile

“I’m not the first, but I hope the UFC will soon sign more young Chinese fighters from the UFC PI Shanghai.”

If he continues to perform the way he did late last year against Gordon, the promotion might need to take a deeper look into his request.

Though it’s difficult to glean too much information from a bout that lasts less than a minute, there were obvious pieces of his performance in November that stood out.

He made weight without issue, looked fresh and focused stepping into the cage, and despite only being an inch taller than his opponent, appeared to have a solid size advantage over the Canadian. More importantly, he showed a keen understanding of his range, using kicks early to keep Gordon at distance, and accurate, explosive hands, as the first clean left he landed had a clear impact and it wasn’t long after that two more lasers from the southpaw stance brought the fight to a close.

Perhaps most impressive, though, is that the author of that breathtaking effort wasn’t completely satisfied with his exploits.

“That was a short-notice fight, so I could not perform the way I wanted,” said Sumudaerji, who carries a 13-4 record and a two-fight winning streak into Wednesday’s encounter with Adashev.

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After having extended breaks between each of his first three UFC appearances, this week’s bout is an expedited return to action, one the promising flyweight hopes will result in a similar performance and a place in the rankings early next week.

“I would say the same way from the last fight,” he said when asked to forecast how things will play out with Adashev, who landed on the wrong side of a quick finish in his promotional debut last summer in Las Vegas. “After this fight in Abu Dhabi, I want to be in the rankings.

“I’m coming for the title,” he added, explaining that his goal for 2021 is to finish the year stationed inside the Top 5 at flyweight, which would certainly put him in range of challenging for championship gold.

With such lofty aspirations, it’s not surprising that provided everything goes as planned on Wednesday and he emerges unscathed, the emerging flyweight prospect would like to make another expedient return to action, one that includes a step up in competition.

“ASAP!” he said without pause when asked how soon he’d like to fight again, adding he’d like to face “someone from the Top 10 or Top 5.”

Whether you heard the tree fall in the woods or witnessed Sumudaerji’s blistering effort at the end of November, the new reality is that there is fresh timber on the ground in the forest and a new prospect to pay close attention to in the 125-pound weight class.

And if everything goes as hoped on Fight Island, Adashev will be felled, another victory will be achieved, and there will be plenty more people making noise about the talented “Tibetan Eagle” going forward.

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On the Rise: UFC 257 Edition


After a 10-year run as one of the best fighters competing outside of the Octagon, the 34-year-old Chandler is set to step into the UFC cage for the first time this weekend in a co-main event clash with Dan Hooker.

Chandler enjoyed three different reigns atop Bellator’s 155-pound weight class and boasts a 21-5 record that includes victories over former UFC lightweight champs Benson Henderson and Eddie Alvarez, as well as Marcin Held, Patricky Pitbull, and many others. The compact powerhouse from Missouri has won five of his last six heading into his promotional debut this weekend and has a chance to instantly insert himself in the title conversation if he’s able to post a victory over Hooker in Saturday’s penultimate matchup.

Training out of Sanford MMA, Chandler has spent countless hours competing in the gym alongside a number of elite UFC talents, including welterweight champ Kamaru Usman and impending title challenger Gilbert Burns, and has all the requisite skills and attributes needed to be an instant threat in his new environment.

RELATED: Photogallery Of Michael Chandler In Abu Dhabi | UFC 257 Embedded Episode 1

Hooker has gone 7-2 since returning to the lightweight ranks and took part in two of the best five fights of 2020, beating Paul Felder by split decision in February before dropping a unanimous decision to Saturday’s headliner Poirier at the end of June. He’s established himself as a legitimate contender and is a perfect, dangerous dance partner for Chandler in his promotional debut.

Should Chandler earn a victory on Saturday night, he’ll thrust himself into the thick of the chase in the loaded lightweight division. With the title situation uncertain at the moment, a statement win over an established guy like Hooker would be a great way for Chandler to introduce himself to the UFC audience and make his case for being on the short list of title contenders heading into the second quarter of 2021.

View Chandler’s Athlete Profile


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