During the UFC 265 weigh-in show, Justin Gaethje was brought on via Skype to chop it up with the broadcast crew, which included Gaethje’s UFC 268 opponent, Michael Chandler. With his invitation hardly a coincidence, Gaethje was asked to provide a scouting report of “Iron Mike” as Chandler listened attentively.
“Hey, be nice, Justin. I’m right here, dude,” Chandler requested with a smile before Gaethje shared his thoughts.
“Oh, that’s alright. I got nothing mean to say,” Gaethje began before saying something mean. “We do mean things to each other one night a year. It’s been a while since I fought someone I didn’t like. For some reason, you’re a little different. I think it was James Vick, the last guy I fought that I didn’t like. So it’ll be fun to punch you in the face.”
“You know, I think that’ll be fun, too,” Chandler cooly replied.
We’re going to take a wild stab in the dark that Chandler was suggesting that punching Gaethje in the face will be fun and not that he, too, thinks it would be fun for Gaethje to punch him in the face. And in case there were any doubts for the grammar Nazis out there, Chandler would then elaborate on what makes this fight so exciting.
“Yeah, I think similar styles and also similar backgrounds,” Chandler began. “Justin won one world title outside of the UFC, comes in, kicks the door down, has a fight of the year right away, and immediately becomes one of the top guys, and that was what I wanted to do. Justin Gaethje, my next opponent, essentially laid the blueprint of a guy who came in from outside an organization and who was a world champion.
“So immediately, his name was in my mind, him and every single guy inside the top 5. And I think this is a fight that needed to happen. It’s a fight that was inevitable that it was going to happen. I think both of us are cut from the same cloth: hard-nosed wrestlers, we’re gonna meet in the center of the Octagon, we’re gonna have a blast, we’re gonna entertain everybody. Win, lose, or draw, I’m prepared to make a highlight or be made a highlight by ‘The Human Highlight Reel.’ Either way, it’s gonna be fun.”
This very measured, polite, and well-spoken elaboration by Chandler was met with some even meaner words by his future opponent the next time Gaethje had the floor to speak.
“‘Kill’ is a very harsh word. We got families. But ultimately, I’m gonna tell myself he’s gonna try to kill me so that I can go to the most primal place that exists for a human, and that is fight or flight, life or death.
“So I’m excited, again, to fight someone that I don’t like. It’s been a while. I have no reason not to like you, but something about your face just makes me want to punch (it).”
At this point, the panel let out a collective laugh, including Chandler, who could only lightheartedly state that he can’t change his face and that it isn’t everybody’s cup of tea.
Taken aback by Gaethje’s candor, an amused Daniel Cormier indirectly asked Gaethje to expand on his remark.
“His face, Gaethje? His face?” Cormier asked.
“Yeah, the little smirk,” Gaethje specified.
Chandler would then change the subject to Gaethje owing him a pair of Onyx gloves before the panel moved on to asking him about other topics happening around the UFC.
You can view the full exchange yourself below.
Help us out, MMA fans. What was this? Trash talk? A casual chat? Light-hearted banter? Bullying? We need your help! Let us know your thoughts on this exchange between Justin Gaethje and Michael Chandler!