Lightweight contenders Justin Gaethje (23-3) and Michael Chandler (22-6) have ‘verbally’ agreed to fight at UFC 268, and all the reports coming from ESPN, etc. indicate that the fight is expected to be greenlit.
Assuming it is, the pair will be adding their own, unique brands of violence to a card that’s already headlined by a potentially legacy-defining welterweight championship bout between Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington.
Justin Gaethje vs. Michael Chandler… on Twitter
This potentially explosive clash began as so many fights do these days – Gaethje and Chandler engaged in a lively war of words on social media.
During the exchange, Gaethje set Chandler straight after “Iron” had accused him of backing out of fights on multiple occasions.
“Michael Chandler is talking out of his ass,’ Gaethje tweeted. ‘I was waiting for the bout agreement 3 weeks into camp and wake up to news his daddy Dana gave him the shot.”
To be fair to Gaethje, the pair had been set to meet at UFC 262. But, during the early goings of the fight prep, Chandler was handed a title shot against Charles Oliviera. Chandler’s acceptance of such a prestigious fight in only his second appearance in the UFC is obviously understandable. But, certainly, it wasn’t Gaethje backing out of that one.
“The Highlight,” who hasn’t stepped foot inside the Octagon since a tough loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov 10 months ago at UFC 254, wasn’t best pleased about his opponent’s withdrawal. He was then even less understanding regarding the online ‘slander’ he received thereafter from Chandler.
In a separate tweet, Gaethje wrote:
“He’s been out of commission since the KO. What am I missing? I’m on vacay and this f***er is slandering my name. 3-4 times?'”
One of Justin Gaethje or Michael Chandler odds on to meet the winner of Oliviera vs. Poirier
Regarding Chandler’s KO: the American, who had been the heavy betting favorite going into the encounter with Charles Oliviera, went on to lose.
Oliviera connected with a stinging left hook in the very first round and was able to blast the American out of there, scoring a shock result and landing his first, well-earned, UFC strap in the process.
On the plus side, the defeat didn’t harm Chandler’s stock too much. His debut performance against Dan Hooker was so dominant that it’s impossible. to ignore Chandler’s championship credentials. Plus, his career prior to arriving in the UFC wasn’t too bad either! It’s the UFC – anyone can get knocked out; that’s the beauty of the whole thing.
Fortunately, a win for either Chandler or Gaethje at UFC 268 is likely to put the victor in line for the next crack at the champion. So, Chandler may yet be able to earn himself a shot at redemption…
That is, assuming Oliviera can overcome Dustin Poirier in his first title defense, currently scheduled for December.
Regardless of what happens after this next batch of fights, one thing is for sure – UFC 268 is going to be some show!