UFC lightweight challenger and one-time vacant title chaser, Michael Chandler has claimed that he will not receive the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine following the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) full approval, despite initially claiming that he would not receive inoculation until it was fully approved.
Chandler, who recently explained how he believes his targeted UFC 268 bout with former interim lightweight champion, Justin Gaethje was in jeopardy amid a mandate introduced in New York where proof of full vaccination would be required to enter gyms, restaurants, and entertainment venues. The event is currently tentatively targeted to take place at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
With speculation regarding the potential matchup taking place at the pay-per-view event, Chandler recently took to an Instagram live session, where he claimed that his bout with Gaethje could be in jeopardy for its targeted November landing pad, as he explained that would not be receiving a vaccination until it received full approval from the FDA.
“I will not be vaccinated at that point,” Chandler explained. “I don’t know how many fighters, if I was to fight on that November 6. card — or whoever is fighting on November 6. at Madison Square Garden — I don’t know how many fighters will be vaccinated. I don’t really have a tally on who is or isn’t (vaccinated).“
“It’s not that I’m anti-vax,” Chandler continued. “It’s not that I don’t believe in the vaccine, necessarily. I’m just not going to get the vaccine until it’s 100% FDA approved. We’ve had hundreds of clinical trials, just like we had the vaccines that my son has had — measles and chickenpox and all of the vaccines that have been around for 100 years that have been proven. We shall see. I don’t know what’s going to happen.“
“More than anything, the chances of the UFC being able to sell out Madison Square Garden with only people that are vaccinated really cuts down their ability to sell out Madison Square Garden,” Chandler said. “So I don’t really know. I think it calls into question if Madison Square Garden will actually happen, to be honest with you guys. The UFC is brilliant and geniuses at putting things together and putting their fights together. But as I said, I’m not anti-vaccine. I think vaccines are effective. I think it’s everybody’s choice whether they want to take the vaccine. I won’t be vaccinated by November 6. so I won’t be able to perform or entertain at Madison Square Garden. So we shall see.” (H/T MMA Junkie)
Off the back of Chandler’s comments, UFC president, Dana White claimed that he would not mandate fighters under the promotion’s banner and currently under contract to receive full vaccination if they wished to compete, claiming that he would “never tell another human being what to do with their body.”
Replying to a Twitter user who asked him if he ever intended to even get vaccinated regardless of Pfizer BioNTech receiving full approval from the FDA, Chandler explained how he doesn’t want it regardless.
“Mike needs just ONE DOSE to fight in New York,” @KevinNoel posted on Twitter. “I just want @MikeChandlerMMA to be real, and admit he has no intention of ever taking it. FDA approval or not.“
“I don’t want it,” Chandler tweeted in response. “FDA approval or not. Real enough for you? I have no problem with people getting it. We all have a choice… this is mine.“
Last featuring in the headlining bout of UFC 262 in May at the Toyota Centre in Houston, Texas — Chandler suffered a second round knockout loss to the surging, Charles Oliveira in a vacant lightweight title bout.
UFC 268 takes place on November 6. with Madison Square Garden currently tentatively targeted to host the pay-per-view showcase. A welterweight title rematch between reigning champion, Kamaru Usman and former interim titleholder, the #1 ranked contender, Colby Covington is currently slated to headline the event.