Few could blame him for his exuberant celebration. In knocking out Dan Hooker in the first round, he pulled off one of the best debuts in the promotion’s history, with some stacking it up against Anderson Silva’s introduction in 2006.
UFC President Dana White said as much, and while Chandler conceded his post-fight celebration being a one-off, he doesn’t intend to rest on his laurels when it comes to providing the results.
“I by no means want to hang my hat on that,” Chandler said. “I want my next performance to be even better, and I want to win that world title ultimately, so it’s definitely great to hear, but I am not content with that, and I can’t wait to just go out there and continue to get better and continue to perform at a high level.”
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If there’s any division in which that high level is chock full of superstars in terms of names and fighting talent, lightweight is that spot. As Khabib Nurmagomedov’s retirement seems to solidify itself with each passing day, the best of the best at 155 pounds are doing their best to jockey for the inside track at the strap.
Chandler thrust himself from outsider to contender in the blink of a right hand, but some objectors – including UFC 257’s headline winner Dustin Poirier – felt like one big-time win in the UFC isn’t enough to earn a title shot. His body of work would claim he’s been in plenty of big-time fights and given plenty of show-stopping performances to warrant such praise, but Chandler, a man able to simultaneously articulate humility and confidence in the best way, is willing and able to do the work to distinguish himself as worthy.