UFC 268: Michael Chandler Admits He’s Wanted Gaethje Fight For Years

Justin Gaethje and Michael Chandler, UFC 268
Justin Gaethje and Michael Chandler, UFC 268 pre-fight press conference Credit: Gabriel Gonzalez/Cageside Press

New York, NY — Justin Gaethje isn’t known as being a talkative guy. Doing the media rounds, he’s to the point, if not curt. Michael Chandler might be the exact opposite: having been the face of Bellator for years, Chandler clearly has the gift of gab.

The two men could not be more dissimilar — except when it comes time to fight. Which the top five ranked lightweights will do as part of UFC 268 this Saturday.

During Thursday’s pre-fight press conference, Cageside Press asked both men what they’d have to do to steal the thunder from the card’s main event.

“Sh*t, he fights the same as I do. We’re both fireworks from the beginning,” Gaethje replied. “I know he’s going to try to finish it first round, but he’s going to turn into a wrestler real quick, talking about taking steps backwards. We’ll see who’s the b*tch when he starts shooting for legs.”

Both men, as a matter of fact, come from wrestling backgrounds. Neither tend to rely on it much, and are generally better known for the firefights they’ve been in.

Chandler appeared to have similar thoughts on Thursday. “Everybody knows what happens when Michael Chandler steps into the cage. Everybody knows what happens when Justin Gaethje steps inside the cage,” he exclaimed.

Then, referencing the unique card placement of the fight — it opens the PPV event, due to Gaethje’s coach Trevor Wittman having three fighters in action on the main card — Chandler continued, saying “First fight of the night. This is why we went to the first fight of the night. We’re starting off with a bang, starting off with the fireworks, get your PPV early, get the show open, Justin Gaethje goes out in one.”

Later, the former Bellator MMA lightweight champion would admit that Gaethje was at the top of the list when it came to what a win over “The Highlight” would mean to him.

“Justin Gaethje’s at the top. This is a dude I wanted to fight years since years before I stepped into the octagon, years before I came to the UFC. And partially because selfishly, I want the challenge. Selfishly, I want to compete against him,” replied Chandler. “I do think what he brings to the octagon, the skillset that he brings, I do believe we are cut from the same cloth.”

“As he said when he came into the UFC, ‘show me my equal.’ And I was outside the UFC knowing I wanted to be here, knowing I was his equal. And now we get the opportunity, you guys get to be the beneficiary, first fight of the night at Madison Square Garden Saturday night.”

Chandler now gets his wish, with he and Gaethje arguably the “people’s main event” at UFC 268. All the more reason for fight fans to tune in early this Saturday.