Michael Chandler Says UFC is “Just Different,” Is a Fan of UFC 268 Opponent Justin Gaethje

New York, NY — Since his title fight loss to Charles Oliveira back in May, Michael Chandler has been busy fine-tuning his game at Sanford MMA.

Now, he’s set to return in a very fan-friendly fight as part of the UFC 268 main card this weekend. “It’s a big week, it’s New York City, it’s the Big Apple, here we are, so let’s go, Madison Square Garden,” Chandler exclaimed during Wednesday’s media day.

The toughest part to deal with after the loss to Oliveira, Chandler admitted, was what he referred to as “the hangover” after entering the fight expecting to come out on top. “I think it’s just, of course you always know, you’re fighting in a cage against top level opponents in 4oz gloves, of course there’s always that possibility that bad things are going to happen, you’re going to get clipped. But I had the confident expectancy that entire training camp, it just felt like it was perfect,” he explained. “So I think it was just more of the letdown.”

“It was the highest of highs,” Chandler continued, noting that he was right where he wanted to be, fighting for the number one slot in the world. “Had I won May 15th, I would have been the number one guy in the world and I would have accomplished that goal. So I think it was more just the hangover from how high I was on thinking that I was going to win, and then I wasn’t.”

It’s not the first time Chandler has lost, of course, and he believes those losses have taught him how to come back from, and how to deal with losses. “I think truly, that’s where your character is really tested, that’s where your mettle is really tested, in those moments of defeat where you can pull yourself back up, and now I get another opportunity against another top guy in the world, arguably the most exciting guy in mixed martial arts in general, against Justin Gaethje on Saturday night. The stage is set for another phenomenal night.”

When it comes to Gaethje, despite a bit of prickliness in the build-up to the fight, Chandler is a fan. “I like the guy. I’m a fan of the way he works, I’m a fan of what he brings to the competition. How he fights, the ferocity and the passion which he fights with. He’s a promoter’s dream, he’s a training partner’s dream I’m sure,” said Chandler. “We’re cut from the same cloth, wrestlers, small town kids, middle class families, scraped and clawed our way to becoming All-Americans, and now fighting in the top of the division of probably the most exciting division in the UFC. I’ve got nothing but respect for him. Obviously when the cage door closes, we’re going to go out there and do a job, and that job is going to end with one of us getting our hand raised, and probably a handshake after.”

As a former Bellator MMA lightweight champion, Chandler has followed in the footsteps of fighters like Eddie Alvarez and Ben Askren in moving to the UFC. Having been through the experience, Cageside Press asked him for his advice for AJ McKee, who could be the next Bellator star to make the jump.

“It’s all up to the individual of course. AJ is still very young, right?” Chandler replied.

“He’s still young. Everybody calls it a young man’s game, I don’t think you’re really a true man and hit your prime until you’re thirty anyway. So I think he’s still younger than that. Longevity in this sport is so important. Taking care of your body. I don’t know when his contract is up, obviously he just won that tournament, so kudos to him. Hat’s off to him.”

“Things are different over here. Things are very, very different,” Chandler continued. “I’ve seen it over the last 13 months, the way things have exploded, compared to the last 13 years before that outside of the UFC. It’s just different, and that’s not a knock on any other organization. The UFC just does it bigger, and does it better, and they give you an opportunity, and I wish more fighters inside of the organization, and more fighters outside of the organization and the media and everybody saw that the way we see it when we’re in the trenches.”

Watch the full UFC 268 media day appearance from Michael Chandler above. More coverage of the event can be found below. UFC 268 takes place Saturday November 6 at Madison Square Garden in New York, NY.