Has there ever been a bigger heater of an opening fight than Justin Gaethje vs. Michael Chandler at UFC 268? The former World Series of Fighting (WSOF) and Bellator MMA champions, respectively, have built their careers off a reputation for engaging in wild wars of attrition. On Saturday night (Nov. 6, 2021) inside Madison Square Garden, both men gave it their all and beat the absolute crap out of each other for three straight rounds (watch highlights here).
Gaethje would get his hand raised in the end, but there was enough head trauma exchanged between the two that UFC whisked them both off to the hospital immediately. No backstage interviews, no press access — straight to the hospital ... well, after the two got their camps together in the cage to share a photo:
And because Gaethje and Chandler are both such good sports even after taking a few years off their lives, the good vibes just kept flowing. Cameras in the bowels of the Garden captured Justin (in the purple hoodie) trying to climb in the same ambulance as Chandler.
We don’t know if Gaethje just assumed that there was one ambulance for both of them, or if he was just feeling so close to Chandler after that three-round war that he wanted to ride with his guy. Either way, it’s just another great moment in a fight that’s been full of them.
And then at the hospital, more mutual respect was shown: Chandler and Gaethje made sure to get a selfie together ... all smiles.
“All glory to God,” Gaethje wrote on his Instagram account. “I wasn’t leaving tonight without my chance to to put another strap on Trevor Wittman’s wall.”
Gaethje certainly put a solid claim on the No. 1 contender spot at Lightweight, and shared “Fight of the Night” honors with Chandler as well. Past a contract for a title shot, there’s only one more thing he’d like: a bonus for his coach Trevor Wittman, who went 3-0 at UFC 268 coaching Gaethje, Rose Namajunas and Kamaru Usman.
@danawhite give my man Trevor Wittman a performance bonus. All glory to god.— Justin Gaethje (@Justin_Gaethje) November 7, 2021
For complete UFC 268 results and coverage click here.