The result may have not gone his way, but Michael Chandler received a ton of props for his UFC 268 showing against Justin Gaethje. There were notable moments during the fight when the former three-time Bellator champion pushed forward despite the beatings he took.
Now almost a month away from that potential 2021 Fight of the Year candidate, Chandler looks back on his performance. As he told Daniel Cormier in an ESPN interview, it was the first time in his career where he was placed in such a situation.
“It probably wasn’t the smartest of ideas, especially against a guy like Justin Gaethje. I think I was caught up in the moment. It’s definitely the first time in my career that I didn’t care whether I won or lost, for some reason,” he said.
“I also didn’t hear my coaches for the entire 15 minutes. Madison Square Garden was so, so loud. It was absolutely bananas inside there. Usually, as wrestlers, we’ve been trained — and then now fighters, we’ve been trained we can hear our coaches.
“Could not hear a thing, so I was out there by myself, unfortunately. And when I’m left to my own devices, it’s a lot of ill-advised things happen, but they were entertaining. So the fans won that fight.”
Chandler’s valiant efforts resulted in him absorbing a total of 83 significant head strikes and receiving 22 facial stitches. But he says those injuries aren’t even the worst part of his post-fight experience.
“Both my leg and my right foot from both checking leg kicks or eating leg kicks and throwing leg kicks,” Chandler revealed. “And then the face… you know the face looks the worst but the face is the best part about it. I can deal with a couple of black eyes and a couple sets of stitches. But it was more the body pain that I was in for about the first two weeks.
“But I’ve been doing a lot of recovery stuff, a lot of hyperbaric chamber, a lot of manual body work. Body feels great now, so I’m about to get back to training.”
These days, the 35-year-old Chandler is angling for a potential fight against UFC superstar Conor McGregor, next. He says he’s already prepared to use some “linguistic jiu-jitsu” to deal with the trash talk that comes with fighting “The Notorious.”