American Kickboxing Academy head coach Javier Mendez is leaning towards Justin Gaethje at UFC 268. Gaethje returns to action for the first time in over a year when he faces Chandler at UFC 268 which takes place November 6 in Madison Square Garden, New York. Just about everyone is expecting a knockout within the first […]
Gaethje returns to action for the first time in over a year when he faces Chandler at UFC 268 which takes place November 6 in Madison Square Garden, New York.
Just about everyone is expecting a knockout within the first five minutes as both fighters carry heavy power.
Mendez, however, believes Gaethje has more tools in his toolbox which should see “The Highlight” come out on top and return to the win column.
In particular, Mendez mentioned Gaethje’s leg kicking ability.
“Chandler’s a hell of a fighter. He’s got good speed, good power,” Mendez said on Mike Swick’s podcast (via Middle Easy). “Gaethje’s got a bigger chin and he’s fantastic at those low calf kicks. I don’t think Michael is as proficient with those leg kicks, just as I warned Khabib.
“… I don’t think Michael is going to be able to stop him on those calf kicks. Even if you practice them, he’s so good at them that even Khabib couldn’t really stop those calf kicks from coming in. He went through him because Khabib is just mentally tough.”
Whether Chandler can get through them as well remains to be seen. But in the end, Mendez simply feels Gaethje has more pathways to victory than Chandler.
“Justin Gaethje is going to be a handful for Michael but anything can happen. Michael’s got the power, the speed, they’ve both got good wrestling,” Mendez added. “I think the stronger chin is definitely Gaethje, I think the stronger kicker is definitely Gaethje and I think they match up well as far as power. … I think Gaethje has more options to win.”
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. […]
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?
Unfortunately the return of Luke Rockhold is being delayed. Rockhold has not fought since suffering back-to-back knockout losses to Yoel Romero and current light heavyweight champ Jan Blachowicz two years ago. After discussing the possibility of retirement, the former middleweight champ decided that he was still interested in fighting, booking a fight with Sean Strickland […]
However, it seems that this return to action at UFC 268 is going to be delayed. According to a post to his Instagram Stories, Rockhold has suffered two herniated discs, forcing him out of the November contest.
“There’s no easy way to really say it, but the fight is off in New York,” Rockhold said (h/t MMAJunkie). “I ended up herniating a disc in my back. L4, L5. The docs say it’s nothing I can play with. I need to do some treatment and recovery time. Some things just aren’t meant to be. New York, motherf*cking New York. I’m sorry to the friends and the peeps and everyone, but we’ll be back. Until next time.”
This is obviously disappointing for the fans that were excited and looking forward to seeing Rockhold return to the Octagon. On the bright side, he told Ariel Helwani that this was not a severe enough injury to require surgery. Instead, he will be getting an epidural and having about a month and a half of physical therapy.
It will be interesting to see if the UFC decides to rebook this fight, given the nature of the bad blood between the two. At the time of writing, it is unclear if the promotion is looking for a replacement opponent for Sean Strickland.
Here is the updated UFC 268 card, set for November 6th:
Main Card (PPV, 10pm EST)
Kamaru Usman vs Colby Covington 2 (Welterweight Title Fight)
Rose Namajunas vs Weili Zhang 2 (Strawweight Title Fight)
The rematch between Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington has gotten off to a far more civil start than their previous meeting. Usman and Covington first met face-to-face at UFC 245. The lead-up to the fight featured more than it’s fair share of trash talk from either side, most of it going far beyond the usual […]
The rematch between Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington has gotten off to a far more civil start than their previous meeting.
Usman and Covington first met face-to-face at UFC 245. The lead-up to the fight featured more than it’s fair share of trash talk from either side, most of it going far beyond the usual pre-fight build up. However, when all was said and done, Usman got the last laugh with a 5th round stoppage to defend his welterweight title.
“He’s definitely up there,” Usman said. “I’m no hater, I give props where props are due. I think Colby probably is, I would put him in the top-15 welterweights of all time, as far as fighter-wise and skill-wise, the way that he fights. You may not like him personally, which I really don’t, but as far as skill-wise, he’s a good fighter. A very, very good fighter.”
In the time since the competitors last met, Covington has fought just once, claiming a fifth-round stoppage of his own over former welterweight titleholder Tyron Woodley. As for Usman, he has gone on to stake his claim as one of the pound-for-pound best currently fighting, taking victories over Gilbert Burns and Jorge Masvidal (twice). Regardless of what both men have gone through since their first meeting, Usman expects their rematch to be more of the same.
“I think we were both content with understanding that was a Mano a Mano, we needed to duke it out, we needed to go back in the day and just throw fisticuffs and see who got the better of the other,” Usman said. “I told him, I said I would punish him for four and a half rounds and I would finish him and that’s exactly what I did. I think in this next fight he’s gonna try to be a little more strategic but he’s going to quickly realize that’s not gonna work so you’re just stuck in there getting beat up.”
A victory at UFC 268 would be Usman’s fifth consecutive title defense. That would move him into a tie with Matt Hughes for second all-time behind Georges St-Pierre as far as welterweight is concerned.
Usman has shed the title of being a “boring fighter” by earning stoppage victories in three of his last four fights. However, don’t expect him to try to force the issue when he takes on Covington again.
“It doesn’t matter. Finish or not, the way I fight I want to dominate a guy from start to finish,” Usman said. “I want to out-class a guy. I want a guy to go home, when they lay down in bed at night they’re like, ‘S–t, that guy’s better than me. There was nothing I can do to beat him.’ That’s what I want. That’s the feeling that I want to live with these guys each and every time they compete against me. So whether I finish him or not, I want him to have that feeling. But of course, the finish is great and that’s something that people highly anticipate from me right now.”
Who do you think wins Kamaru Usman vs Colby Covington 2? Let us know!
Rose Namajunas made remarks about communism before she bested Weili Zhang for gold back at UFC 261, and China’s Zhang believes it’s turning fans against her. With the two scheduled for their rematch in the famed Madison Square Garden venue, Zhang believes she could be fighting more than “Thug” Rose when the two touch gloves […]
During Zhang’s first title defense against Namajunas, the audience in Florida was booing her incessantly. Since UFC 261 was the first PPV with a full crowd since the pandemic shuttered much of the U.S., the audience was extra lively. Speaking to Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour, Zhang mentioned that Rose’s comments affected her overall performance in their first outing.
“I think it definitely affected me a little bit,” Zhang said.“The comments that Rose made, I think she was successful in making the audience boo me. But I think that’s my own problem because I should be concentrating on the fight and not the audience. I can’t control who the audience likes. So I’m becoming more focused on my own fight.”
“In my mind, I think that, yes, those comments crossed the line because I think all the audience, all the fighters, we all come together in the UFC because we all share the passion of the MMA sport. In my mind, I’m coming here because I want to make friends because we all have the common love of martial arts. I think it’s not a good thing to mix sport with politics, but I think that’s maybe her plan. So in the beginning, I thought it was just kind of trash talk. Zhang said. It really didn’t affect me. But when I went out in the stadium and got booed, I think Rose wanted to use those comments to make the audience boo me.”
Zhang conceded responsibility for her knockout loss at UFC 261. Though, she insists that the fans did impact her performance. Initially, the former 115-pound titleholder thought the trash talk was a joke. But after hearing the crowd boo her, “Magnum” believes the comments were politically motivated to elicit a reaction. Even so, China’s Zhang will do her best to pay the political dialogue no mind ahead of her second UFC title shot.
Who do you have winning the strawweight title at UFC 268?
Ahead of his return fight against Michael Chandler, the crowd-pleasing Justin Gaethje details his journey back to competition and the differences between his three losses. Reflecting on his only three losses in MMA, “The Highlight” believes his loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov was different from his other two. On that fateful night last October, the then-32-year-old […]
Ahead of his return fight against Michael Chandler, the crowd-pleasing Justin Gaethje details his journey back to competition and the differences between his three losses.
Reflecting on his only three losses in MMA, “The Highlight” believes his loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov was different from his other two. On that fateful night last October, the then-32-year-old Nurmagomedov’s dark energy was palpable, and Gaethje could feel it right away. Overwhelmed with sorrow, Nurmagomedov submitted Gaethje with a triangle choke instead of permanently damaging his tendons with an armbar in the first round.
Speaking to UFC legend and Hall of Famer, Matt Serra on the UFC Unfiltered podcast, Gaethje breaks down his losses and what he needs to do in order to become the best lightweight on the planet.
“It was a different experience than I had ever really experienced. Losing to Dustin [Poirier] and Eddie [Alvarez] was different than this one. This one hurt, but I don’t know. I gave everything that night. He is great. And then with what he was fighting with, with the death of his father, I really felt that power in there, and I just don’t think that no matter what I did or how great I was next to the one in a million shut-their-lights-out shot, which doesn’t happen often, then it was gonna be hard for me to win.
“So I’m confident, and I need to be confident that nobody on planet Earth at 155 pounds can, number one, take those shots; and two, walk through those shots and continue to pressure me and take me down and be that effective,” Gaethje said to Matt Serra.
The #2-ranked Gaethje is ready to get the taste of defeat out of his mouth and will get a crack at Chandler in New York City, New York at the UFC 268 PPV on Nov. 6. Initially, some panic set in as Chandler mentioned that he would not be vaccinated by the time the event was at our doorstep. Current legislation in New York now requires proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to participate in most indoor activities.
In what is likely to be one of the most exciting fights of the year, Gaethje and Chandler are eager to ply their trade at the historic Madison Square Garden venue on Nov. 6 at UFC 268: Usman vs. Covington 2. Gaethje will return from a year-long layoff and look to reposition himself for another run at gold.