Saturday night, Dan Hooker and Michel Chandler faced off in the co-main event of UFC 257. The two men wanted to make a statement, but Chandler did so first by knocking out his opponent in the first round and calling out the biggest stars of the lightweight division. He issued challenges to Conor McGregor, Dustin Poirier and the recently-retired Khabib Nurmagomedov.
"Conor McGregor! Surprise surprise, there is a new king in the lightweight division," Chandler yelled after his fight. "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 in your quest for 30 — you know you gotta beat somebody — so beat me...if you can!"
Heading toward Saturday night's event, there were questions about whether the lightweight champion in Nurmagomedov would return for one last fight. His record is 29-0, a stat that includes victories over both Poirier and McGregor. White said that Nurmagomedov would watch the fights on Saturday night with great interest and that he wanted the top contenders to show him "something spectacular" and make him come back and fight.
Chandler made it clear on Saturday that he was aware of Nurmagomedov's interest by showing off with his first-round TKO victory. He then did a backflip off the top of the cage and issued his challenge. Though one of the men didn't respond as Chandler expected.
"Respect to Chandler, a great win over a guy," Poirier said after knocking out McGregor.
"But to come in and beat a guy I just beat and get a title shot, dude, I’ve been in — what is this? — 27, 28 fights in the UFC trying everything, fighting the toughest guys to get my hands on gold. He should fight Charles Oliveira or something. Let Chandler and Oliveira go at it. That doesn’t really interest me at this point. I’ll go and sell hot sauce if that’s the case."
McGregor did not respond to Chandler after the fight, but he did discuss his future in the sport. The Irishman explained that he is excited about the trilogy and teased a third fight between him and Poirier. McGregor even told his opponent on Saturday night that they "would do it again."
Despite the exciting finishes in the two final fights, White provided an unexpected update about a potential Nurmagomedov return. "I did talk to Khabib [tonight]" White said during his press conference. "He told me, 'Dana, be honest with yourself. I'm so many levels above these guys. I beat these guys.' I don't know, but it doesn't sound very positive. And what he said was, 'I won't hold the division up.'"