At the November 2021 pay-per-view, the always-entertaining Gaethje shared the Octagon with Chandler, who was making his third UFC appearance. It’s probably safe to say that no fight has ever managed to exceed such high expectations like the UFC 268 main card opener.
From the very first second, both men threw heavy leather, cracking each other hard and letting blood spill inside Madison Square Garden. While the two looked wobbled at points, with a brutal uppercut even sending “Iron” to the canvas, the fight went the full 15-minute distance.
“The Highlight” ultimately had his hand raised via unanimous decision, but both men increased their stocks with the consensus Fight of the Year on November 6.
While the pair are set to return to action this Saturday at UFC 274, with Gaethje challenging Charles Oliveira’s reign and Chandler facing UFC veteran Tony Ferguson, the #1-ranked contender believes such a quick return may not have been possible for his last opponent had their fight gone an extra two rounds.
Gaethje: Chandler Was In A Bad Spot
During a recent interview with Yahoo Sports’ Kevin Iole, Gaethje reflected on his ninth walk to the Octagon, which incredibly saw him collect a ninth post-fight bonus.
According to “The Highlight,” the fight was as good as over early in the second round. With that in mind, and with the heavy damage that Chandler sustained in the final frame, Gaethje believes that an extra 10 minutes would have seen catastrophic consequences for the health of the #5-ranked lightweight.
“In the first round, for about a minute-and-a-half, Chandler had a chance. A minute or two into the second round, it was over,” said Gaethje. “And if it goes five rounds, he might die. And that’s—I don’t want that to happen, I never wanna hurt somebody like that.
“But he was in a bad spot and I was landing some seriously, seriously significant shots in that fight. He wasn’t able to get it to the ground, and he was gonna continue to take that damage,” added Gaethje. “If he would’ve stayed on the leg kicks, then it woulda maybe been a different fight.”
Nevertheless, the fight was set for three rounds and, after recovering from the long-lasting effects of his brawl with Gaethje, Chandler is set for his fourth taste of Octagon action this weekend in Arizona.
While he’s certainly maintained his fan-favorite reputation in defeat so far, a loss to “El Cucuy,” who has been resoundingly beaten in his last three fights, would certainly put a dent in Chandler’s title aspirations.
How do you think Justin Gaethje’s UFC 268 war with Michael Chandler would have played out with a fourth and fifth round?