The recent record of fighters with long championship pedigrees outside of the UFC is a checkered one. So, when Chandler made his Octagon debut at UFC 257, the biggest question mark outside of the high-profile rematch between McGregor and Dustin Poirier was absolutely what Chandler was going to do. Was he the real deal, or just another highly regarded talent who can mix it up in the Top 10? Something more? Something less?

He answered the questions emphatically – flying colors do not properly encapsulate his seizing of the moment. Against the notoriously tough Dan Hooker, Chandler patiently made his way into range over the course of the first round. After absorbing a few leg kicks, Chandler went to the body, came up high, and ended the fight with a thunderous punch, punctuated with a sky-high backflip off the cage. It was enough to earn himself a title shot at UFC 262, where he’ll face Charles Oliveira.

Justin Gaethje

For years, “The Highlight” was perhaps the most exciting fighter to not compete inside the UFC. The longtime World Series of Fighting champion finally amended that when he introduced himself to the Octagon in a fight that could only be described as “extremely-Gaethje.”

Instantly competing in a main event against Michael Johnson at the finale of The Ultimate Fighter: Redemption, Gaethje lived up to the billing and then some, engaging in a back-and-forth thriller with the “Menace.” It turned into a dynamic war of attrition until Johnson finally fell late in the second round, prompting the first Gaethje backflip in the Octagon and introducing a fan-favorite to the masses.

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Conor McGregor

Before “The Notorious” was a multimillionaire, multi-weight class champion and perhaps the sport’s biggest star, he was just a 12-2 Irishman with some buzz after capturing the featherweight and lightweight titles in the Cage Warriors promotion. In Stockholm, Sweden, he showed all the swaggering prowess that’d bring him to fame in the coming years, scoring a TKO win over Marcus Brimage. McGregor looked for uppercuts with his vaunted left hand early, threw a few unorthodox, karate-style kicks and had his moment on the microphone – all the key elements to a vintage McGregor performance.

Jung Chansung