ABU DHABI – Michael Chandler’s first official UFC fight week is in the books.

The former Bellator lightweight champion has gone through all the protocols and duties required from a UFC fighter as he prepares for his promotional debut this Saturday against Dan Hooker in the co-main event of UFC 257. Chandler (21-5 MMA, 0-0 UFC) had a test run in October when he served as a replacement opponent for the lightweight title fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje at UFC 254. Although Chandler wasn’t needed, it was a good exercise and preparation for his debut.

Now, just hours away from fighting in the octagon for the first time, Chandler rates highly his first UFC fight week experience.

“It feels good, man. It’s all part of the process, and it’s something that I’ve done a lot in my career, but just not at this magnitude,” Chandler told MMA Junkie. “The weight came off great. Obviously the set up here on Yas Island is awesome. They roll out the red carpet for you, and it’s been a great experience. That first trip to Abu Dhabi served me well for this trip. I know all the staff now, familiar faces, putting names with faces, and it’s been a great week.”

Chandler has been on big stages outside of the UFC and has been a notable name for many years. Yet, despite being one of the most recognized fighters outside of the UFC, Chandler believes the attention has grown dramatically since he left Bellator to sign.

“It’s definitely something I’ve been enjoying. I love media obligations,” Chandler said. “Every single time there’s a microphone near me, it’s with a purpose.

“I truly believe God has had me in the palm of his hand since I started fighting, and I relish these opportunities. I relish in the opportunities that I get to show the UFC staff I’m an easy guy to work with, that I’m a guy who’s willing to go above and beyond, and truthfully this is my platform.

“Eventually the microphones will go away. Eventually you wont be getting the media requests. And that, to me, is just a call to action to a lot of professional fighters, us, who get this great opportunity. So it’s been a lot. The UFC is a great machine. I’ve been in some big events before, but this is by far the biggest one. This is bigger than anything I’ve ever been a part of. It hasn’t quite sunk in, and I hope it never sinks in how big this thing is because I want to focus on the task at hand and get my hand raised inside of the octagon.”

Once the cage door closes on Saturday, Chandler will be standing across one of the best lightweights on the UFC roster. Hooker is 7-2 in his past nine bouts since moving up from 145 pounds. “The Hangman” is a respected figure in the UFC, and Chandler is excited to showcase his skills against a proven and battle-tested veteran.

“Dan Hooker is professional. He’s a fighter’s fighter,” Chandler said. “You’re going to have a hard time finding someone in this organization who doesn’t have a ton of respect for Dan Hooker. He’s a great guy to draw for my first fight. He’s a tough out. He’s got great physical attributes. We’ll see Saturday night where I stack up in the lightweight division.”

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