Former Bellator champion Michael Chandler signed with the UFC, president Dana White announced Thursday on ESPN's "SportsCenter."
Chandler will serve as a backup for the lightweight title bout between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 on Oct. 24 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
The 34-year-old concluded his Bellator contract in August with a knockout of ex-UFC titleholder Benson Henderson in a main-event bout.
Chandler said after becoming a free agent that he was open to re-signing with Bellator or moving to a different promotion; he simply wanted the best deal.
He'll join a stacked UFC lightweight division that includes champion Nurmagomedov, interim titleholder Gaethje, Tony Ferguson, Dustin Poirier, and Conor McGregor, among others.
The UFC was reportedly discussing booking Chandler against Ferguson at UFC 254. White said Tuesday that a new opponent had been found for Ferguson - who was originally expected to fight Poirier - but "El Cucuy" had not yet agreed to the matchup.
Ferguson still wanted to fight Poirier, who dropped out of the bout after failing to come to terms with the UFC. The 36-year-old "stuck to his guns," according to ESPN's Ariel Helwani, implying that he turned down the Chandler fight.
Chandler was considered one of the faces of Bellator. He's fought for that promotion since his fourth pro bout, dating back to 2010. He held the 155-pound belt three times and picked up notable wins over Eddie Alvarez, Patricky Freire (twice), Brent Primus, and Henderson (twice).