Recent vacant UFC lightweight title challenger, ‘Iron’ Michael Chandler has explained how he will not be fully vaccinated against the novel coronavirus in time to compete at UFC 268, which is currently scheduled for November 6. And believes his lightweight clash against former interim lightweight champion, Justin ‘The Highlight’ Gaethje is in jeopardy.
Earlier this week, a mandate was introduced in the state of New York City which would require proof of vaccination against COVID-19 in order to enter restaurants, gyms, and other indoor venues for entertainment, which is set to come into effect fully on September 13.
As a result, the promotion’s planned UFC 268 event, which is tentatively targeted to feature at Madison Square Garden in the ‘Big Apple’ is now in somewhat jeopardy. And even more so, former three-time Bellator lightweight best, Chandler has explained how he is not planning to be fully vaccinated against the novel coronavirus by the time November 6. rolls around — subsequently putting his bout with Gaethje into jeopardy.
“I just saw that New York is dropping some heavy madness on the city of New York City,” Chandler said during an Instagram live session on Wednesday. “Basically, they’re requiring you to be vaccinated (and) show proof of vaccination for indoor dining, indoor fitness, and indoor performances and entertainment. Obviously, a UFC card, a UFC fight being thrown at Madison Square Garden is considered an indoor entertainment and indoor performance.“
“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).“
The Missouri native, who last featured against Charles Oliveira at UFC 262 in May, explained how he was not anti-vax — but stressed that he would be waiting until vaccinations were given full approval from the FDA (Food and Drug Administration).
“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)
This week, UFC president, Dana White confirmed that he would not enforce or require fighters under contract with the UFC to be vaccinated, claiming that he would “never tell another human being what to do with their body“.
While plans for the promotion to land their UFC 268 event at Madison Square Garden are not entirely set in stone at the time of publication, initial plans outlined the organization’s plans to feature their UFC 268 event in New York City — with a welterweight title rematch between Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington set to headline the event.