Former Bellator champion and one-time UFC title contender Michael Chandler moved a step closer to another world title shot with a stunning front-kick knockout of Khabib Nurmagomedov rival Tony Ferguson in a featured bout on the UFC 274 card from Phoenix, Arizona late on Saturday.
After an impressive first round from Ferguson, 38, Chandler opened the second frame with the sensation kick down the middle which pierced Ferguson’s guard and connected flush with his chin, toppling the iconic American fighter face first to the canvas where he lay unconscious for several minutes as cageside medics tended to him.
The finish came just 17 seconds into the second round.
Before the fight was brought to a devastating halt, Ferguson was arguably turning in his finest performance in years. He dropped Chandler with a left hand in the first round but was unable to capitalize on the opening.
Perhaps sensing that Ferguson had seized an advantage on the feet, Chandler opted to take the fight the ground late in the first round and landed a succession of heavy shots – but Ferguson rallied and continued to threaten with submissions as the seconds ticked away.
Chandler was wearing visible damage from their exchanges, most noticeably a gash under his right eye.
But if his corner had any concerns that the swelling might affect him as the fight wore on, Chandler showed that their concerns were unfounded when he scored the fight-ending shot.
“We’ve seen a couple [front kick knockouts],” Chandler stated after the fight. “We don’t even train that, that much. It just happened. There was a lane right up the middle.
“There is not one MMA fan on the planet that doesn’t want to see me rematch you Charles [Oliveira] or rematch you Justin Gaethje,” Chandler added. “If Hunter Campbell and Dana White have a momentary lapse in judgment and they give the title shot to someone else, I’ve got one dude on my mind.
“Conor McGregor, you’ve got to come back and fight somebody. I am the most entertaining lightweight on the planet. But I want to up the stakes, Conor. I want you at your biggest, I want you at your baddest and I want you at your best. You and me at 170 this summer, this fall, this winter. Holler at your boy!”
Chandler’s callout was received graciously by McGregor, who wrote on Twitter that a fight between the pair would be “fireworks”.
“I’d have a nice knock off this guy, no doubt about it. A firework spectacle. I like the 170 shout also. Tipped him over. I’m definitely game to fight this guy at some stage in my career. I see it happening after tonight. Congrats on a solid win Michael and another barnstormer.”
Meanwhile, UFC officials announced in the post-fight press conference that Ferguson had been released from hospital after the results of his CT scan were deemed satisfactory.
It was the fourth fight in a row that the American former interim lightweight champion has lost.
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