You will want to make sure you’re tuning into UFC 268 right from the start of the PPV with this fighting kicking things off. Former interim lightweight champion Justin Gaethje (22-3) takes on former title challenger Michael Chandler (22-6) to kick off the PPV.
Originally, this fight was scheduled to be the third of the night, but with Trevor Wittman coaching Usman and Namajunas in addition to Gaethje, this fight was moved up. Now, this insane fight will kick off the UFC 268 PPV broadcast.
This is the first time that we will have seen Justin Gaethje in over a year. The last time we saw him was at UFC 254 when he lost to Khabib Nurmagomedov. That loss snapped a four-fight winning streak that saw him capture the UFC interim lightweight title against Tony Ferguson.
Michael Chandler weighed in as the backup for Gaethje’s fight against Khabib Nurmagomedov. It was the first thing Chandler did in the UFC after signing a big free agent contract last year. He made his debut back in January with a knockout of Dan Hooker.
After that win, Chandler got a shot against Charles Oliveira for the vacant UFC lightweight title. After a dominant first round, Chandler was caught with a flush shot in the second and was stopped. Now, he’s looking to get right back into title contention.
UFC 268 Prediction
This fight at UFC 268 personifies the saying, “Don’t Blink.” These two are going to get after it from the opening bell and I’m not expecting to see the judges in this one. I wouldn’t be shocked if we saw a war with a late stoppage and I also wouldn’t be shocked if we saw a stoppage in the opening minute.
One thing to watch out for is the wrestling of Michael Chandler. Yes, Justin Gaethje has great credentials as a wrestler and early in his MMA career, that’s what he leaned on. However, he’s gone far away from that and relies on his striking now.
Even when hurt, Gaethje doesn’t go to his wrestling. While we think these two are going to stand and trade, don’t rule out an early takedown attempt from Chandler. Even if the intention is to stand, a takedown could mix things up for Chandler which could create more openings.
If you want a fighter who has more ways to win at UFC 268, pick Michael Chandler. However, Chandler’s chin scares me. We’ve seen him get hurt by way less powerful strikers in the past. I have a feeling that he’s going to get caught with a big shot early in this one and I don’t like how he recovers. I’m expecting fireworks and I’m also expecting a Justin Gaethje win here.
Prediction: Justin Gaethje by TKO – Round 1