The UFC is in advanced talks with free agent Michael Chandler and is the front-runner to sign the former Bellator champion, sources told ESPN's Ariel Helwani.
A deal has not yet been finalized, but if both parties reach an agreement, the promotion is discussing booking Chandler against Tony Ferguson at UFC 254 on Oct. 24, Helwani adds.
Ferguson was expected to face Dustin Poirier at that event, which is set for Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. However, Poirier dropped out after failing to come to financial terms with the UFC.
It's unclear whether Ferguson is interested in fighting Chandler, according to Helwani.
Chandler, a former three-time lightweight champion in Bellator, fought out his contract in August after knocking out former UFC titleholder Benson Henderson. At the time, Chandler was willing to re-sign with Bellator or go elsewhere, and he was simply seeking the best deal.
UFC president Dana White expressed interest in signing Chandler when the veteran became a free agent. White said this past weekend that the promotion had been in touch with Chandler.
Poirier has said he still wants to fight Ferguson, and the latter recently urged the UFC to "pay the man" for an Oct. 24 showdown. Ferguson's first choice for his opponent reportedly remains Poirier.