Chandler and Gaethje will be looking to rebound back into the win column after both men failed to clinch UFC gold in their most recent outings. Gaethje hasn’t fought in over a year since playing a reluctant supporting act in Khabib Nurmagomedov‘s UFC swansong. Chandler, meanwhile, has fought twice in that time, earning a first-round TKO of Dan Hooker in January before being TKO’d himself by Charles Oliveira in their battle for the vacant lightweight title in May.
With lightweight champ Oliveira set to make his first title defense against Dustin Poirier on December 12, #4 ranked Chandler and #2 Gaethje will be fighting for a likely title shot during their Madison Square Garden showdown on November 6. There are, however, other likely contenders. Islam Makhachev, if he triumphs over Dan Hooker at UFC 267, could get the nod. And there’s also #3-ranked Beneil Dariush waiting in the wings.
Chandler Pays Respect To Gaethje, Reveals Ideal Win Scenario
There’s been no love lost between Chandler and Gaethje in recent months, with the duo exchanging verbal jabs over social media. Gaethje has even gone so far to say that he’s excited to “fight someone that I don’t like,” noting that there’s something about Chandler’s face that “just makes me want to punch it.”
Despite the mutual dislike, Chandler has recently paid respect to the formidable challenge which Gaethje poses, telling The MMA Hour that he’s preparing for the hardest fight of his life.
“I think you always prepare for a long, drawn-out war,” Chandler said in an (h/t MMA FIGHTING). “I think you always prepare for a guy that you just can’t finish, a guy that just continues to come forward with everything you hit him with — and Justin Gaethje is that. You’re kidding yourself if you don’t think that Justin Gaethje is not just violent and not just skilled, but man, the dude has cardio and heart in droves. So I’m preparing for 15 hard, hard minutes. The hardest fight of my life.”
Gaethje has said that his game plan against Chandler will be to “break this dude as fast as possible, as violently as possible.” And Chandler, despite preparing for a 15-minute war, is harboring similar intentions, revealing that his ideal win scenario is a quick KO.
“But I think best-case scenario I land one pretty darn hard on his temple or his chin and put him out,” said Chandler. “But that’s what every fighter wants. You want the knockout and you want the quick, easy paycheck, of course, but you’ve got to be ready for that 15-minute war. And if I had to guess, I think if there’s a finish it’s happening later on, second or third round, because I think both of us are just not going to get hit with anything too crazy clean in order to get finished. But that’s what I’m preparing for. We’ll see.”
What do you think? Will Michael Chandler make quick work of Justin Gaethje?