Former Interim UFC Lightweight Champion Justin Gaethje is hoping to give Michael Chandler a “fast” and “violent” end to his night at UFC 268.
Gaethje hasn’t been in action in almost a year. He last entered the Octagon at UFC 254 in a bid to become the first man to defeat the great Khabib Nurmagomedov. Despite a promising opening round, “The Highlight” failed to leave Abu Dhabi with undisputed gold after falling unconscious to a second-round triangle choke.
After being snubbed for the vacant lightweight title fight that went down at UFC 262 following Khabib’s retirement, Gaethje is looking to burst back into the title picture when he returns next month. On a stacked UFC 268 card, the 32-year-old will face fellow former title challenger Chandler. He’ll be hoping to set the tone for his teammates Kamaru Usman and Rose Namajunas, who will be defending their respective titles in the main and co-main event.
Ahead of his upcoming return to the cage, Gaethje spoke with ESPN MMA’s Brett Okamoto. When asked what he’s expecting from the former Bellator Lightweight Champion heading into the pay-per-view, “The Highlight” suggested the pair will put on a “fun” fight for the fans. He also encouraged Chandler to fatigue himself by attempting to take him down.
“Being a wrestler, being a competitor his whole life, I think he’s gonna come out firing shots. I think it’s gonna be a great fight… which will be fun, fun for the crowd and fun for me. Will he start wrestling after I start landing big shots? I’m not sure, probably. But again, I’ve been defending takedowns my whole life. If he wants to waste energy there, then that’s fine. When he stands up he won’t be able to block his face anymore.”
Discussing the previous barnburners he’s had with the likes of Tony Ferguson, Gaethje suggested his fighting style naturally produces entertaining scraps. He doesn’t anticipate his next outing being any different, although he is looking to finish Chandler faster and more “violently” than he did “El Cucuy.”
“There’s only one common denominator in every single one of those fights and that’s myself. So, it is what it is, that’s how I fight. This fight will be just the same. I’m gonna go out there and try and break this dude as fast as possible, as violently as possible. ‘Most violent man’ and all that bullshit, doesn’t matter, I’m 22-3 with 19 knockouts, which one of those dudes can say that, which one of those dudes can say they got nine bonuses in their first seven fights, not one of them. The common denominator is gonna be me every single time. It’s the way I fight, it’s why they pay me so much money.”
Who do you think will have their hand raised at UFC 268, Justin Gaethje or Michael Chandler?
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