UFC lightweight contender Michael Chandler drew a lot of flak from fans because of his stance on the COVID-19 vaccines. After initially saying he’ll likely get the jab upon the FDA’s approval, he later changed his answer to a hard no.
Chandler’s previous statements of dissent were made within Twitter’s 280-character limit. But in his recent appearance on The MMA Hour, he was given a chance to elaborate.
“The funny thing about the vaccination thing was I didn’t come out, I didn’t do one story and tell people about the vaccine, I didn’t get on your show and started talking about the vaccine,” Chandler told Ariel Helwani. “I was in a private Instagram live session with a couple thousand people or whatever it was.
“Five minutes after I hit ‘End Live,’ it was MMA Junkie or one of the MMA media outlets came out and said ‘Chandler isn’t getting vaxxed,’ and I go labeled an anti-vaxxer.
“I’m not an anti-vaxxer. I don’t personally have the vaccine right now, I don’t know if I will ever get the vaccine. Personally, I just believe that we live in the greatest country on the planet. I believe that this is the greatest country on the planet because of our individual liberties and our individual choices, especially when it comes to our bodies and our medical history, and our health.
“That’s where I stand on it, and it wasn’t a heel turn, whatsoever. It was just the people who labeled me an anti-vaxxer obviously thought I was a heel when really I was just answering a question.”
Chandler vaccine stance initially put his scheduled UFC 268 fight against Justin Gaethje in jeopardy, given the mandates in New York City where the event was set to be held. “The Highlight” saw this as Chandler’s way of “seeking attention,” which the former Bellator champion also responded to.
“If I had hopped on and done a media tour about how I’m not taking the vaccine, or I was telling everybody (that) the vaccine was garbage or something, of course, that would be me seeking attention,” he explained. “I was in a private Instagram on my own IG Live with my followers and a couple of thousand people that were asking questions about it. And then the article broke and came out.”
Chandler’s public Instagram account, has over 1 million followers as of this writing.