Five years ago, Justin Gaethje vs. Michael Chandler was the definition of a fantasy fight that just never felt like it could happen. Well, never say never as the two wound up going to war in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Octagon at UFC 268 in Nov. 2021.
The former champions from other promotions have established themselves as two of the sport’s most exciting fighters over the years. Therefore, it was no surprise that we got a chaotic three rounds of action when they met.
Gaethje would end up walking away as the victor via unanimous decision, handing Chandler his second UFC loss (watch highlights). He now finds himself set to once again challenge for UFC gold at UFC 274 in April opposite Charles Oliveira. But recently, Gaethje shared that he didn’t find the 2021 “Fight of the Year” with Chandler to be all that great — he went as far to call it boring.
“I think in Justin Gaethje’s mind, I think he was disappointed in his performance and when that comes about, it can play tricks on your mind that it was a boring fight because there are a lot of times when we as fighters get done with our fights and we see the fight differently in our head or we remember how we felt after the fight right away,” Chandler told CBS Sports’ Shakiel Mahjouri. “Then you go back and watch it and realize it was a much more exciting fight or a much more dominant fight.
“Case in point, my fight against Benson Henderson years ago,” he continued. “I lost the fifth round, so I felt like I lost the entire fight. I was just so disappointed by the way the fight came to a close after that fifth-round win. Really, I spent the first four rounds dominating him on a lot of people’s scorecards. So I think what happened there was, I think Justin Gaethje was a little bit disappointed in his performance. Not to mention the fact that he did drop me and wasn’t able to finish me. Not to mention the fact that I think I out-Justin Gaethje’d Justin Gaethje in some of those exchanges. I think there is no doubt it was definitely not a boring fight. The Fight of the Year awards on everybody’s cards solidifies that. Maybe we’ll share the Octagon again and we’ll give the fans another treat. We’ll see.”
While Gaethje prepares himself for Oliveira, Chandler has locked in on Tony Ferguson who is expected to be his next opponent. Both men fought at UFC 262 in May 2021 and both came out on the wrong ends of their bouts. Despite not fighting each other, plenty of words were shared at the pre-fight press conference.
“As far as how far along it is, I’m assuming that is my next fight sometime this summer,” Chandler said. “I don’t know the exact date or the location, but that’s who I’m training for. That’s who I’m watching film of. That’s who I’m thinking of fighting. Getting in shape, laying a good groundwork, good foundation right now to go into a nice hard training camp for a fight this summer. I’m all systems go for a Tony Ferguson fight, so we’ll see when we get the contract signed and get this thing, moved along, and get announced.
“I don’t know if I want to wait till July, but I would definitely like to fight on an International Fight Week,” he continued. “So maybe I go run through Tony before that and then I can fight again in July. We’ll see.”
Assuming the fight gets made official next, both Chandler and Ferguson will be looking to snap losing streaks. Ferguson, having lost three straight since June 2019 and Chandler whose Gaethje defeat followed his shortcoming for the UFC Lightweight title against Oliveira at the aforementioned UFC 262 event (watch highlights).