UFC’s Gaethje to Chandler: ‘There’s something about your face that just makes me want to punch you’

One of the most highly anticipated fights of the year is scheduled to go down at UFC 268. Two of the best lightweights in the world will battle it out as Michael Chandler (22-6) takes on Justin Gaethje (22-3).

Both men have incredibly similar styles and both love to stand and trade. In addition to having a similar fan-friendly fighting style, both men are also in a very similar spot in their career.

Chandler just lost a UFC lightweight title fight back in May to Charles Oliveira. The last time we saw Justin Gaethje fight was at UFC 254 when he lost a lightweight title fight to Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Both men are coming off title losses, but they still rank at the very top of the division. While they have paid some compliments to each other in the past, there is some underlying beef between the two UFC lightweights.

It all started with Chandler stating on an Instagram Live that Gaethje turned down a fight with him several times. Gaethje fired back at Chandler and said that he was slandering his name. This was all prior to the UFC finalizing the fight between the two.

UFC 268 In Flux

Today at the UFC weight in show, Justin Gaethje appeared as a guest. Michael Chandler was one of the hosts along with Daniel Cormier and several other personalities from the promotion.

Gaethje stated in the interview that he doesn’t have much of a reason to dislike Chandler, but he just does. The former interim UFC champion said to Chandler, “It’s been a while since I fought someone I didn’t like… There’s something about your face that just makes me want to punch you… It’s the smirk.”

This got a big smile out of Chandler. Chandler has seemed incredibly excited since this fight got announced. Chandler has stated that the one guy that he wants to fight more than anyone is Justin Gaethje.

Now, there was an interesting statement from Gaethje in today’s interview. Gaethje openly said that he didn’t think his fight with Chandler will take place in New York City and he was hoping that it doesn’t.

Couple this with Michael Chandler saying he’s not going to get vaccinated and it’s starting to look like UFC 268 is going to change. New York City issued a vaccine mandate and that could jeopardize the event.

Dana White has said this week that he has spoken to Madison Square Garden and there’s no issue. However, my guess is that the UFC is already planning on either moving this fight or moving their PPV to a new location. I would imagine that the promotion would like to keep Gaethje – Chandler on PPV so it will be interesting to find out where it takes place.

Vaccine mandates in NYC could alter the plans for UFC 268

UFC, Dana White

UFC 268 is supposed to be a massive event for the promotion. The promotion is targeting a return to Madison Square Garden for the event and they are bringing incredible fights to New York for that event.

Headlining UFC 268 is the rematch between Kamaru Usman (19-1) and Colby Covington (16-2). In addition, UFC 268 will play host to the return of Luke Rockhold as he takes on Sean Strickland. 

However, arguably the most anticipated matchup that’s been announced is the co-main event. The UFC has booked Michael Chandler (22-6) against Justin Gaethje (22-3). This is a dream fight for most fans and were supposed to see it in November.

However, a new mandate in New York City might jeopardize that fight. Michael Chandler had an Instagram Live session yesterday (from MMA Junkie) where he was very open and honest about the fact that he will not be vaccinated come the November.

Chandler said that he was not anti-vax and that he would consider taking the vaccine once it’s FDA approved. I can assure you that Chandler is not the only fighter in the UFC who is not vaccinated and I guarantee he’s not the only one on the card that won’t be.

New York City announced new mandates that requires vaccination proof to do just about anything indoors. With this new mandate coming down, the UFC 268 location might be in jeopardy.

UFC 268 Backup Plans

Dana White has always said that the UFC will never force their athletes to do anything. In regards to forcing vaccinations, White said to TSN, “I would never tell another human being what to do with their body. If you want to get vaccinated, that’s up to you. That’s your choice. You’re never going to hear me say I’m going to force people to get vaccinated. Never gonna happen.”

I can guarantee White isn’t going to change his position and I guarantee the UFC fighters who don’t want the vaccine will not get it. That said, this card is in a lot of trouble in terms of the location.

It’s worth noting that the location has not been announced for UFC 268. While it’s widely known that it’s supposed to take place at MSG, the promotion hasn’t officially announced anything yet.

Dana White has been operating through the fluid waters of this pandemic for well over a year. The UFC knows how to deal with situations like this and I can assure you that they’re already working on a new location. This will definitely be something to watch over the coming weeks.

UFC books Justin Gaethje – Michael Chandler

One of the most highly anticipated lightweight matchups has been officially booked. ESPN’s Brett Okamoto was the first to report that the UFC has finalized a lightweight contest between Justin Gaethje (22-3) and Michael Chandler (22-6).

The fight is taking place at UFC 268 on November 6th. While it’s not official, the location for UFC 268 is supposed to be Madison Square Garden. The rematch between Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington will headline the UFC 268 card. Chandler and Gaethje are expected to be the co-main event.

The UFC has been trying to book this fight for a while and it’s finally being booked. Michael Chandler was the big free agent signing for the UFC last year after his stint with Bellator. Chandler made his debut back in January and scored a first round knockout over Dan Hooker.

Following that win, Chandler got a shot at the vacant UFC lightweight title against Charles Oliveira. After a dominant first round, Chandler was stopped in the second round. Chandler took a little time off after the loss, but he’s ready to get back at it and the only fight he wanted was Justin Gaethje.

UFC return for Gaethje

This will actually be the first fight for Justin Gaethje since UFC 254 last October. Heading into that fight against Khabib Nurmagomedov, Gaethje was the interim lightweight champion. Gaethje was submitted in the second round by Nurmagomedov.

Since then, Gaethje has been taking some time off as he planned his next fight. Originally, the promotion was looking at having Gaethje and Chandler fight at UFC 262 for the vacant lightweight title. However, the promotion shifted gears and gave the shot to Oliveira who went on to capture the lightweight title.

Prior to his loss to Nurmagomedov, Gaethje had won four straight fights all by stoppage. This fight will seemingly line up with the title fight between Dustin Poirier and Charles Oliveira which is being targeted for the end of the year. The winner of this fight at UFC 268 will be the next in line for a title shot.

UFC: Justin Gaethje fires back at Michael Chandler

We seem to have a little bit of bad blood forming in the UFC‘s lightweight division. Earlier this week, top contender and former title challenger Michael Chandler (22-6) took to Instagram Live where he talked about what’s next for him.

Chandler last fought at UFC 262 when he came up short against Charles Oliveira for the lightweight title. The former Bellator lightweight champion said that he’s targeting a return in either November or December of this year.

Chandler said that without a doubt the guy that he wants to fight is former interim UFC lightweight champion Justin Gaethje (22-3). Gaethje is ranked second in the division and he last fought at UFC 254 when he lost to Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Chandler said that Gaethje has been ducking him and refuses to accept the fight. He went on to say that the UFC has offered the fight to Gaethje three or four times and Gaethje has refused to take the fight.

However, Gaethje has since responded on Twitter. Let’s just say that ‘The Highlight’ wasn’t too thrilled with Chandler’s comments and he made it very clear that he hasn’t been ducking Chandler at all.

Will the UFC make this fight happen?

I will agree with Michael Chandler when he says that the fight between him and Justin Gaethje is the fight to make. There is no questioning the fact that this is the fight that the UFC should make next.

Both men are coming off of losses in UFC title fights and both are ranked at the very top of the division. Not too mention the fact that stylistically, this is about as good as it gets when pairing any two lightweights against each other in terms of excitement.

Chandler and Gaethje would be fireworks and I think the UFC knows it. Dana White has mentioned that this is the fight that he wants to make and I think it happens. Whether it’s a Fight Night headliner or a co-main on a PPV, I’m expecting to see Chandler – Gaethje by the end of the year.

UFC: Michael Chandler hopes to return near the end of the year

Michael Chandler (22-6) is still dealing with the disappointment from failing to capture the UFC lightweight title last Saturday. In the headliner of UFC 262, Chandler took on Charles Oliveira (31-8, 1 NC) for the vacant lightweight championship.

The first round of their fight at UFC 262 was one of the best opening rounds of a championship fight I’ve seen in a while. It had it all and both men looked like they could finish the fight in the first round.

For Oliveira, he was able to get Chandler’s back in the first have of the round. A lot of people thought that if Oliveira could get in that dominant of a position at UFC 262, he could finish the fight by submission.

In fact, I picked Oliveira to win by submission. However, Chandler powered through and got out of the dangerous position. The second half of the round was all Michael Chandler and he hurt Oliveira badly on the feet.

At one point, it appeared that the fight was seconds away from getting stopped. Chandler had the UFC lightweight title within his reach, but Oliveira was able to survive the onslaught and we went to the second round.

Much like the first round changed on a dime, the second round changed on a dime. After coming close to finishing the fight in the first round, Chandler was clipped with a perfect left hook from Charles Oliveira.

Oliveira followed up with some finishing shots and captured the UFC lightweight title. For a moment in the first, Michael Chandler’s perfect UFC start appeared to be going according to plan. However, he left the door open and Charles Oliveira took advantage.

UFC return for Michael Chandler

Michael Chandler sat down with MMA on Point this week to break down UFC 262 and talk about his next steps. Chandler admittedly thought he wouldn’t be in a position to consider his options following a loss.

The former Bellator champion said that he planned on winning the UFC title and wanted to wait for the winner of Dustin Poirier – Conor McGregor 3. If that would’ve happened, Chandler said he thought the UFC would book him anywhere from November to January of 2022.

Despite losing at UFC 262, Chandler is wanting to stick to that timeline. Chandler said, “November at the earliest. December, maybe even January. I’m not getting any younger… Obviously, the stakes are high, the competition is high. No matter what, I’ll step inside the cage with a top five guy.”

Opponents to watch for in his UFC return would be Justin Gaethje, Beneil Dariush, Rafael Dos Anjos, or perhaps Islam Makhachev. The loser of McGregor – Poirier could also be an option. As Chandler said, the UFC will give him a top five guy next regardless and if he wins impressively, he’ll be right back in the title mix.

After falling short at UFC 262, what’s next for Michael Chandler?

Over the weekend at UFC 262, Michael Chandler (22-6) took on Charles Oliveira (31-8, 1 NC) for the vacant lightweight title. After Khabib Nurmagomedov relinquished the title earlier this year officially, the lightweights crowned a new king on Saturday night.

Michael Chandler knocked the UFC door down when he made his debut back in January. Chandler knocked out Dan Hooker in the first round and announced to the world that he was ready for that UFC strap.

Charles Oliveira had won eight fights in a row leading up to UFC 262. Do Bronx had come into his own and he looked like one of the scariest lightweights in the world. On paper, this matchup was pure fireworks.

Well, the fight turned out to be pretty good as well. In the first round, Chandler rocked Oliveira early which forced and Oliveira takedown attempt. Chandler was able to lock in a guillotine, but Oliveira fought through it. The Jiu Jitsu expert was then able to get the back of Michael Chandler.

Eventually, Chandler exploded out of the position and they went back to striking. Chandler again hurt Oliveira badly and looked like he was seconds away from becoming the UFC lightweight champion.

However, Oliveira survived and used his legs to keep distance from Chandler’s big shots. The round closed with all the momentum with Chandler. However, moments into the second round, Oliveira landed a massive hook and follow up shots to win the fight and become UFC lightweight champion.

What’s next after UFC 262?

Saturday night showed just how quickly fights can change in the UFC. Michael Chandler had all the momentum and was seconds from finishing the fight in the first round. Seconds into the second round, Oliveira dropped him and stopped him to win the title.

This is a hard one for Michael Chandler because he was so close to realizing that dream. However, it’s important to remember that the UFC title dream is not dead for Michael Chandler. It perhaps just took a detour.

On this detour, who should the UFC pair him with? To me, there’s only one fight that makes sense for all involved. That would be pairing Michael Chandler against former interim champion Justin Gaethje (22-3).

Gaethje and Chandler are both coming off of losses in undisputed title fights. Both men are two of the very best in the world and whoever would win between the two would provide a great challenger for the UFC lightweight title.

Michael Chandler said he’s going to be back in the gym this week and I believe him. I think we could perhaps see a matchup between Gaethje and Chandler in the late Summer this year.

UFC: Justin Gaethje is now the odd man out at lightweight

Last week, we learned that UFC 262 will be headlined by the vacant lightweight title fight between Michael Chandler and Charles Oliveira. The pairing was a little shocking considering neither of those two are the UFC‘s top two ranked lightweights.

The two top spots currently belong to Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje (22-3). Poirier is currently negotiating with the UFC and they are looking to book him in the trilogy fight with Conor McGregor in July.

With Poirier off the table, Gaethje is the top guy. Gaethje was the interim lightweight champion when he made the walk to face Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 254. The Highlight fell short, but he still maintains his top ranking.

In an interview that was posted this morning, Gaethje expressed his confusion with the turn of events. Gaethje said, “I can’t talk about it (the lightweight picture) right now. I’m sure me talking about it is the reason I’m here. Maybe I’ve pissed someone off.”

The UFC had been working on a matchup between Gaethje and Michael Chandler. However, once Khabib said he was staying retired, the promotion shifted gears and booked Chandler against Oliveira which doesn’t make sense.

What’s next for Justin Gaethje in the UFC?

I personally think it’s a little ridiculous that the UFC is crowning a new lightweight champion and neither one of those guys are ranked at the top of the division. It seems completely backwards and Justin Gaethje should be incredibly frustrated.

As mentioned, Gaethje was the former interim champion. Charles Oliveira has won eight fights in a row, but only one of those guys is inside the UFC’s top ten. Michael Chandler has had one fight inside the UFC and it was against someone outside the top five.

Neither one of those fighters are more deserving than Gaethje in my opinion. However, the UFC saw things differently. Now, what happens from here? Well, it appears that Gaethje is going to be on the sidelines for some time.

One fight for Gaethje would be against former lightweight champion, Rafael Dos Anjos (30-13). That would be the fight I’d try to make for Gaethje. However, there’s no guarantees that gets made. At the moment, Gaethje is stuck between a rock and a hard place with the UFC.

BREAKING: Dana White announces UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov is officially retired

The UFC lightweight division will officially crown a new champion in 2021. Dana White came out this evening and announced that lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov (29-0), is officially retiring at 29-0.

Back in October at UFC 254, Khabib announced his retirement after he defeated Justin Gaethje. However, Dana White has insisted that he believed Khabib was feeling the emotions of the moment and he thought he’d come back to try for 30-0.

For months, we’ve been in this weird limbo with the lightweight division. White continued to say that the UFC lightweight champion wasn’t officially retired and they held a number of meetings to talk about his future.

Finally, Dana White has thrown in the towel. Khabib Nurmagomedov is staying retired and the lightweight division will move on. The UFC president announced the news on his Twitter account that Khabib is going to retire at 29-0.

Khabib’s UFC Legacy

In the sport of Mixed Martial Arts, it’s extremely rare to see someone retire undefeated. If you think about all of the greatest fighters to have ever fought in the UFC, nobody walked away with a perfect record.

Jon Jones is widely considered the greatest to ever do it. However, even Jones has a no contest and a DQ loss on his UFC record. Khabib Nurmagomedov has a clean 29-0 and nobody can say anything.

The UFC’s lightweight division has been the most exciting and dynamic division within the promotion over the last few years. Khabib has reigned supreme and he’s taken out all of the top challenges in dominating fashion.

Outside of Khabib, four men have held a piece of the UFC lightweight title since 2017. Those four men are Conor McGregor, Dustin Poirier, Justin Gaethje, and Tony Ferguson. Khabib dominated and finished the first three men on that list.

The fight that we never got to see was Khabib against Tony Ferguson. The UFC booked that fight five times, but all five times it fell through. It truly wasn’t meant to be, but considering the direction their careers have gone, I believe most people think Khabib would have won that one too.

Simply put, Khabib is one of the greatest to ever make the walk inside the UFC. His dominance was something truly special to watch and it’s easy to see why Dana White so badly wanted him to fight again.

Khabib is keeping the promise he made to his mother after his father passed away from COVID last year. The UFC’s lightweight champion promised his mother that the Gaethje fight would be the final one and despite White’s best pitches, The Eagle is keeping his promise.

UFC working on Justin Gaethje – Michael Chandler (Report)

The UFC is currently working on booking one of the most anticipated matchups of 2021. Per ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, the promotion is currently working towards booking a lightweight showdown between Justin Gaethje (22-3) and Michael Chandler (22-5).

As of now, the word is that the UFC is tentatively targeting for this matchup to be in the early summer. This is a fight that fans have been anxious to see. It’s also a fight that makes perfect sense given the landscape of the lightweight division.

Michael Chandler made his highly anticipated debut at UFC 257. Chandler got a co-main event slot opposite Dan Hooker on the Conor McGregor -Dustin Poirier 2 card. When the stage was the biggest, Michael Chandler showed out.

Chandler closed as the betting underdog, but he stormed out of the gate and knocked out Dan Hooker in the first round. With that performance, he put all of the UFC lightweights on notice.

Chandler has said that he wants to become the UFC‘s lightweight champion in 2021. He said he knows that it will require more wins and one of the guys he really wanted to face was the former interim lightweight champion, Justin Gaethje.

UFC title eliminator?

Back at UFC 254, Justin Gaethje got his shot against Khabib Nurmagomedov for the undisputed title. Like 28 men before him, Gaethje fell short in his attempt to dethrone The Eagle. After the fight was over, Gaethje said he’d need another win before a title shot.

After all the fights at UFC 257, Gaethje said that he’d be down to fight the “cringey” Michael Chandler. It now appears that he’s going to get that chance. Prior to the loss to Khabib back in October, Justin Gaethje had been on quite the roll in the lightweight division.

Gaethje had four straight knockouts over Tony Ferguson, Donald Cerrone, Edson Barboza, and James Vick to earn his interim title. Michael Chandler and Justin Gaethje are two finishers and two of the most exciting lightweights in the UFC. Whenever this fight takes place, it should be fireworks.

UFC: Khabib Nurmagomedov will remain lightweight champion for the foreseeable future per Dana White

The UFC‘s lightweight title is staying with Khabib Nurmagomedov (29-0) for the time being. In fact, it looks like he’s going to remain the champion for the foreseeable future if you ask Dana White.

Yesterday, the UFC president sat down with ESPN’s Brett Okamoto to discuss the lightweight title picture. Khabib said he was done fighting after he defeated Justin Gaethje (22-3) at UFC 254. If you ask Khabib, he hasn’t said anything else other than he’s done since then.

However, Dana White has been very vocal about Khabib coming back for one more fight. For that reason, White has refused to take away the lightweight title from the undisputed champion. Pundits and fellow fighters want the division to move on, but White truly believes Khabib isn’t done.

White told Okamoto that the UFC champion will meet up with him in Las Vegas for another dinner to discuss the future. While that might make fans roll their eyes, White did bring up a very valid point about his discussions with Khabib.

White mentioned the fact that if Khabib had zero interest in fighting, he wouldn’t even take the meeting. For that reason alone, White believes that there is still hope that Khabib comes back for at least one more title defense in the UFC.

What does that mean for the UFC’s lightweight division?

In the interview, White talked about the state of the lightweight division. He said the top seven is extremely stacked in the UFC and he said that all of these guys need to fight it out. After that, you’ll either see a new champion or new challenger for Khabib.

The UFC is moving down the path of booking Dustin Poirier (27-6, 1 NC) – Conor McGregor (22-5) 3. White said that the fight between those two wouldn’t be for a title. That of course derails any fans’ hope of seeing a belt on Dustin Poirier anytime soon.

White said in the interview that he believes whoever makes it through this year with several big wins, that’s who will either be champion or fight Khabib. However, don’t expect the UFC to take the title from Khabib anytime soon as White believes the right fight will still bring him back.

You can see White’s full interview with ESPN below.