Recent UFC lightweight championship challenger, Michael Chandler has confirmed he’s interested in a possible, quite frankly, mouth-watering matchup against former interim champion, Justin Gaethje next — as he looks to rebound to the winner’s enclosure for the first time in his UFC run.
Chandler headlined UFC 262 earlier this month from the Toyota Centre in Houston, Texas — drawing Charles Oliveira in a vacant lightweight title contest. Starting brilliantly, Chandler wobbled the Sao Paulo native in the early exchanges, before giving up his back in a scramble.
Eventually scrambling back to his feet, Chandler backed Oliveira to the Octagon fence where he unloaded a right hand, clipping, and dropping Oliveira with a minute remaining in the round. Unable to remove the Brazilian from the fight before the second round, Chandler himself was clipped with a left hand early in the second frame, forcing a stumble and a revert, before Oliveira swarmed and clinched the championship with a barrage at the fence of his own.
Following the loss, Chandler maintained that his journey in the Octagon, which only began in January of this year on ‘Fight Island’, is still in its infancy, as that the best was still to come from him.
“I’LL (still) SEE YOU AT THE TOP!” Chandler posted. “A message to you… you’re the reason I do this. The sun rose a little more painfully the last two days, but I have the most important things in life in abundance. Support, love, health, and hope. The best is yet to come and this journey is far from over. I’m happy as can be back at home with the most amazing woman on earth #briechandler and the light of our life, little Hapman (Chandler). Huge thanks to my team @sanfordmma @henrihooft @kamibarzini @coachgjones @drcpeacock … I’ll be back before you know it. #mma #UFC #ufc262“
Speaking with MMA Fighting during a recent interview, Chandler touched on a possible meeting against the #2 ranked contender, Gaethje next, and claimed that he’ll either end up on the end of Gaethje’s highlight-reel — or he’ll add the former interim gold holder to his.
“I think (Justin) Gaethje (vs.) (Michael) Chandler is probably the biggest fan favourite fight on the entire planet right now,” Chandler said. “I think he becomes part of my highlight reel or I become a part of his highlight reel and both of us come forward and enjoy a good old-fashioned, passionate scrap. That’s how he’s wired. That’s how I’m wired.“
Chandler was briefly linked to a showdown against the Colorado striker prior to the booking of his vacant title clash against Oliveira and maintains that since he arrived in the UFC last October — to serve as the backup to Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Gaethje, he’s had sights set on an eventual meeting.
“Justin Gaethje’s been on the tips of the UFC’s tongue, our tongue, myself and my management, since we signed with the UFC,” Chandler said. “It just hasn’t worked out that way for numerous different reasons.“
Whilst Chandler has plans to take some time off ahead of a third Octagon appearance of the year in the coming months, Gaethje has yet to feature since he headlined UFC 254 opposite Khabib on ‘Fight Island’ last October in a failed bid to unify the lightweight championships; suffering a second round triangle defeat.