Justin Gaethje vs. Michael Chandler is sure to be a barn burner, and the former interim UFC lightweight champion hopes to deliver another highlight in a fight that he does not expect to go the distance.
Gaethje and Chandler are scheduled to meet at UFC 268 next month. Both fighters are well-known for their highlight-reel finishes and proclivity for engaging in chaotic exchanges, so it is not outside the realm of possibility that a stoppage will actualize. Gaethje agrees with this sentiment, but recently told The Schmo that it could change if Chandler opts to utilize his wrestling after eating a few heavy shots.
“The dude comes to fight,” said Gaethje. “He loves fighting just as me. Styles make matchups, and this is a stylistic matchup for the fans. I mean, someone’s going to get knocked out…unless he turns into a b—ch and tries to turn this into a wrestling match the whole time. He’s talking about timid souls taking a step backwards. He’s going to be a timid soul when he starts shooting for legs because he doesn’t like the power. That’s what I think.”
Gaethje returns to the Octagon after an extended period away following his loss to then-champion and now-retired Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 254 last year. It is the longest stretch of inactivity in his professional career and the lightweight division has changed since then, with Gaethje feeling a bit left behind. For that reason, he wants to inject himself into title contention again with a statement-making win.
The goal for Gaethje is to defeat Chandler and earn another championship opportunity against the winner of Charles Oliveira vs. Dustin Poirier, which has now been made official for UFC 269 in December.
“Absolutely, I got out there and get the dub on Nov. 6 and I will be fighting the winner of Poirier and Oliveira,” said Gaethje. “That’s definitely the plan. No. 1 fought No. 5, No. 3 fought No. 4 and if you were No. 2 you got f—ked. And it just so happened that my name was next to that No. 2 spot, so it is what it is. The opportunity is ahead of me to get what I want, so I’ve got to capitalize.”
UFC 268 takes place on Nov. 6 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, NY.