Against all odds, somehow Justin Gaethje and Michael Chandler lived up to the hype at UFC 268.
Kicking off the UFC 268 main card was a tantalizing lightweight showdown between Justin Gaethje and Michael Chandler.
Yes, you read that right. A fight that easily could have headlined any number of Fight Night events (or a Pay-Per-View, even without a title) opened up the PPV card in New York City. Mainly because Gaethje’s coach, Trevor Wittman, had three fighters competing within the span of five fights on Saturday.
Regardless of placement, Gaethje vs. Chandler was must-see TV. Two of the most violent men in the sport, coming together in a fight dreamed about since before either had even joined the UFC.
In a rarity, but maybe no so given the fighters involved, Gaethje vs. Chandler delivered.
Justin Gaethje opened up with his signature leg kick, over and over again. Chandler meanwhile began winging right hands before beginning to land his own leg kicks. Both men quickly began trading short hooks in the pocket before going back to trade at the range, where Chandler began to pump his jab and look for the 1-2. Chandler eventually found a huge right hand that wobbled Gaethje. Chandler looked for some big right hands to get the finish but Gaethje somehow survived and even landed some counter shots to send them to round two.
Round two was just as hectic as round one somehow. Gaethje came out firing as Chandler seemed to be getting tired, and Gaethje soon timed a perfect uppercut that sent Chandler down hard. Chandler got in on a desperation takedown in an attempt to survive but Gaethje soon stood up. At that point, Chandler’s face was a wreck and his hands were at his knees. Chandler landed a big shot of his own, as he landed a huge superman punch to get Gaethje off of him for a moment. A weird moment at the end of the round occurred as Gaethje got poked in the eye, and there was a brief moment where referee Mike Beltran didn’t notice so Chandler landed an extra shot and Gaethje made sure to let the referee hear about it. Still, the fight was as advertised heading into round three.
Striking on POINT from @Justin_Gaethje tonight ⚡️
— UFC (@ufc) November 7, 2021
Round three continued to be exactly like the first two: absolutely crazy. Chandler seemed to be better conditioned compared to the previous round, as he came out firing to start round three. Chandler found a home for his own leg kicks, but they were not nearly as hard as the one’s Gaethje had, and Chandler’s left leg just looked terrible. He was forced into stance switches just to avoid the limb failing completely. Chandler would land a big takedown, only for Gaethje to immediately escape. Later in the round, Chandler landed a big right hand that backed Gaethje up to the fence, and Gaethje responded with a big shot that hurt Chandler. Chandler, despite eating more shots, began waving Gaethje on. Wild. The fight ended with both men playing the crowd after 15 minutes of chaos.
This fight is absolutely BANANAS 😳
— UFC (@ufc) November 7, 2021
Fight of the Night? Fight of the Year? An instant classic? Any and all might apply.
Official Result: Justin Gaethje def. Michael Chandler by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)