Michael Chandler’s refusal to take a COVID-19 vaccine may have placed his planned matchup against Justin Gaethje in jeopardy. The fight is targeted to happen at UFC 268 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, where a vaccine mandate is implemented.
Here’s what the number-four ranked contender said during an Instagram live session early this month.
“It’s not that I’m anti-vax. It’s not that I don’t believe in the vaccine, necessarily. I’m just not going to get the vaccine until it’s 100 percent FDA approved.
We’ve had hundreds of clinical trials, just like we had the vaccines that my son has had – measles and chickenpox and all of the vaccines that have been around for 100 years that have been proven. We shall see. I don’t know what’s going to happen.
More than anything, the chances of the UFC being able to sell out Madison Square Garden with only people that are vaccinated really cuts down their ability to sell out Madison Square Garden. So I don’t really know.
I think it calls into question if Madison Square Garden will actually happen, to be honest with you guys. The UFC is brilliant and geniuses at putting things together and putting their fights together.
But as I said, I’m not anti-vaccine. I think vaccines are effective. I think it’s everybody’s choice whether they want to take the vaccine. I won’t be vaccinated by Nov. 6, so I won’t be able to perform or entertain at Madison Square Garden. So we shall see.”
On Monday, the FDA gave its seal of approval on the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the first brand to get such a distinction. The 35-year-old Chandler, however, seems to have moved the goal posts a bit, before flat out saying he just won’t take it regardless of the FDA’s approval.
Not interested at the moment...— Michael Chandler (@MikeChandlerMMA) August 23, 2021
That’s a big nah for me...— Michael Chandler (@MikeChandlerMMA) August 23, 2021
No I didn’t. I stated it as a reason...but not the sole reason— Michael Chandler (@MikeChandlerMMA) August 23, 2021
I don’t want it. FDA approval or not. Real enough for you? I have no problem with people getting it. We all have a choice...this is mine.— Michael Chandler (@MikeChandlerMMA) August 23, 2021
UFC president Dana White already said he’s not “forcing” the vaccines on his employees and fighters. More locations are enforcing vaccine mandates for events, and as of this posting, the UFC has yet to confirm whether or not UFC 268 will take place at The Garden. The event is scheduled for November 6th and will be headlined by the welterweight title rematch between Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington.