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Michael Chandler TKO’s Dan Hooker In A Thrilling Match

The UFC debut of Michael Chandler went better than he might have wished for in the UFC 257 co-main event at Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.

The former Bellator champion had dreamed of competing in the UFC for years, but it wasn’t until Saturday that he made his debut in the UFC. No one who saw it will soon, however, forget it.

Midway through the first round, Chandler caught Dan Hooker with a crushing left hook that sent Hooker to the seat of his pants. Chandler, who had stalked him all over, gave Hooker no chance to breathe. He landed a series of Hooker punches and forced Marc Goddard, the referee, to end it at 2:30 of the first.

For the championship in the lightweight class, the win thrusts Chandler directly into the mix. He couldn’t do much better against an opponent who was one of the UFC’s hardest, and most popular, lights of the last few years.

“This has been a long road … a lot of ups, a couple of downs,” Chandler said in the cage after the bout. “Everything has led me to this.”

It was a remarkable achievement, perhaps matched only by his microphone effort after the bout. He took out a promo that was used by former pro wrestling sensation Ric Flair and called out the lightweight division elite, including Khabib Nurmagomedov, Conor McGregor, and Dustin Poirier, the champion.

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As he was in the fight, where he never gave Hooker an opportunity to get set, he was violent in his call-outs.

“I have to get something off my chest,” Chandler said. “I tell you all this: This is the greatest moment in my professional life. Conor McGregor: Surprise, surprise. There’s a new king in the lightweight division. Dustin Poirier, your time is coming.

“And Khabib, if you ever do see fit to grace us with your presence back here in the UFC Octagon, you have to beat somebody, so beat me, if you can. God bless. See you at the top.”

That is where, after a spectacular debut, he appears to be going.

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