Michael Chandler has revealed that the lightweight top contenders all said no to fighting him except for Conor McGregor.
Chandler made the claim in preparation for his UFC debut vs. Dan Hooker at UFC 257 on Fight Island. Chandler revealed he was targeting a fighter in the top 5 of the rankings but Dan Hooker at no.6 was the only guy to accept his challenge and welcome him to the Octagon.
“Obviously I wanted to fight, two, three, four, or five before I fought number six," said Chandler (h/t BJPenn.com). "But, beggars can’t be choosers, Dan Hooker was the guy who said yes when everyone else said no. Here we go, January 23 we get a great opportunity, I’m excited about it.”
Chandler doesn't hold a grudge for those not keen on fighting with him given he's only signed to the promotion. Chandler was signed from Bellator MMA after his contract expired following his victory over Benson Henderson. Despite an impressive MMA resume and reputation, there have been many fighters who have excelled in different promotions and then struggled in the UFC. Chandler recognizes that he must earn the respect of his colleagues and prove he deserves to be in the UFC before the top contenders come calling.
“Every single one of them in the top-five, besides Conor. They all, and rightfully so," he said. "These guys have cut their teeth in this organization. These guys, everybody in the top-five have fought in the UFC’s lightweight division for five to ten years, these guys have put their time in, their blood, sweat, and tears. I realize I was an outsider, a newcomer, a darkhorse. I realize nobody wanted to really be the first guy who stepped into that Octagon with me, I completely get it."