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Midnight Mania! Justin Gaethje declined to fight Michael Chandler ‘three or four different times’

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UFC 254: Khabib v Gaethje Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Welcome to Midnight Mania!

Sometimes, match ups make themselves. Whether due to bad blood, the potential style clash, divisional rankings or some happy combination of the lot, certain fights do not need the matchmakers’ seal of approval — the fighting world just knows it has to happen.

Michael Chandler vs. Justin Gaethje is one such bout. It makes so much sense! Both men are elite wrestlers better known for their knockout power and highlight reels. Each man most recently came up short in a very exciting title fight, and prior to their UFC careers, were two of the most exciting sluggers outside the UFC roster.

It’s an awesome fight, an easy main or co-main event. Yet, despite his pushing for it, Chandler has been unable to make the match up materialize.

“Gaethje should be next. There’s no doubt about it,” Chandler said this week on an Instagram live chat (via MMAFighting). “There is no secret [Makhachev] and Gaethje both share the same management, so obviously that management would want to say, ‘Hey, throw Islam on the trail. Throw Islam on the Chandler trail so that it takes the heat off of Gaethje.’

“But Justin Gaethje: Come on, bro. You call yourself a fighter, and you are — you’re one of the most exciting guys in mixed martial arts. Be prepared to make a highlight or be made a highlight, because that’s what I am. That’s what I’m ready to do.”

Chandler also revealed that Gaethje has already declined the fight previously, despite the fact that “The Highlight” would seemingly need a big win to return to the title mix.

“I’ll tell you what, I’ve said Justin Gaethje’s name no less than 100 times since I’ve signed with the organization,” Chandler said. “He’s been asked to fight me three or four different times. Every time he’s declined. He and I are ranked two spots away from each other. He has not fought since last October. He needs to get a fight in if he thinks he’s going to fight for the title. For some reason him and his camp have no interest in fighting me.”

Hopefully, UFC is willing to do whatever it takes to make the match up happen.

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