The two former 155-pound UFC title challengers are set to collide at UFC 268 on November 6. Gaethje will be competing for the first time in over a year. “The Highlight” was last action against the great Khabib Nurmagomedov last October. In the UFC 254 headliner, the former interim champ fell short of the division’s mountaintop after being choked out in the second round by “The Eagle.”
Chandler, meanwhile, only made his promotional debut in January this year. After steamrolling through Dan Hooker, “Iron” Mike found himself opposite UFC veteran Charles Oliveira in a clash for the vacant lightweight gold. Despite looking moments away from finishing the Brazilian in the opening frame, “Do Bronx” came back in the second round to stop Chandler on the feet.
Both men will look to take a step closer to another title shot with a victory at the November pay-per-view. However, the event hasn’t been without a vaccination cloud hanging over it. UFC 268 is set to take place inside New York City’s Madison Square Garden. The state had introduced a proof of vaccine mandate for indoor activities last month. With Chandler’s refusal to receive the COVID-19 vaccine even with FDA approval, his fight with Gaethje seemed in jeopardy.
But it appears that athletes traveling into New York for the purpose of competing won’t be required to show proof of a vaccine dose. Luckily for the fighters and the fans, that means the highly anticipated bout between Gaethje and Chandler looks set to go ahead.
After the recent clarification, “The Highlight” has slammed Chandler’s comments on his decision not to get the vaccine. During a recent appearance on UFC Unfiltered, Gaethje suggested his fellow lightweight contender was “seeking attention” by discussing what he believes to be a private and personal matter in the public eye.
“I thought he was just seeking attention. I mean, at the end of the day, that’s private information, for one. You don’t even need to talk about that because Dana White’s gonna handle it. I was gonna fight Tony Ferguson in California. And two weeks before that, ESPN, Disney all freaked out, and we went to Jacksonville. I knew for a fact that I’d be fighting November 6. I didn’t know where. But no, I think it’s gonna happen in New York. They have a law on the books. It says if you’re a performer or an athlete coming from out of state, you don’t have to be vaccinated, so that takes care of the issue right there.”
UFC 268 is shaping up to be one of the most stacked pay-per-views of 2021 to date. Alongside Gaethje and Chandler’s crucial lightweight clash, two blockbuster championship rematches will go down on November 6.
In the co-main event, Rose Namajunas will look to record her second victory over Zhang Weili this year. And in the headliner, Kamaru Usman will be aiming for the fifth successful defense of the welterweight gold when he runs it back with Colby Covington.
Elsewhere on the card, the likes of Al Iaquinta, Luke Rockhold, Sean Strickland, Frankie Edgar, and Shane Burgos will all be in action. The card is certainly worthy of marking the UFC’s return to the prestigious Madison Square Garden.
What did you make of Michael Chandler’s vaccination comments? Do you agree with Justin Gaethje?