One-time UFC lightweight title challenger, ‘Iron’ Michael Chandler has claimed that upcoming foe, former interim lightweight gold holder, Justin ‘The Highlight’ Gaethje is the “scariest” opponent he has faced throughout his professional career so far.
Chandler, the #4 ranked lightweight in the official lightweight pile, is slated to take main card honors against the #1 ranked challenger, Gaethje at UFC 268 in November at Madison Square Garden — with the victor likely challenging for undisputed spoils in their next Octagon walk.
For Chandler, the Missouri native enters the Octagon for the third time since his move from the Scott Coker-led Bellator MMA last year, having challenged current undisputed lightweight kingpin, Charles Oliveira in a vacant title fight back in May.
Headlining UFC 262 in May from the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas — Chandler started quite well against Sao Paulo native, dropping him in the first round with strikes in the final minute of the opening frame. However, he was stopped with strikes himself in the opening exchanges of the second frame.
The outing marked Chandler’s first loss in the promotion following his Octagon debut back in January at UFC 257 where he stopped upcoming UFC 267 feature, Dan Hooker in the opening round with a massive overhand shot and resulting strikes.
Returning against Gaethje on November 5. in New York, Chandler claimed that the upcoming showdown pits him against the “scariest” opponent he has ever faced in his career.
“He’s coming off a loss, I’m coming off a loss, essentially shattering both of our dreams of becoming the UFC champion so I expect him to come out with a fire,” Chandler told ESPN MMA. “I’m gonna come out with a fire and it’s gonna be a good night at Madison Square Garden.“
“I will say, I think Justin Gaethje is the scariest guy that I’ve ever fought,” Chandler explained. “He’s the craziest guy that I’ve ever fought. I’ve fought some very tough guys in the past but he by far takes the cake so there’s that bit of added intrigue to it.“
Gaethje’s most recent Octagon walk came back in October of last year at UFC 254 against then-lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov in a title unification bout, which he lost via second round triangle. And despite the loss to Khabib, Chandler is still focused on the “dangerous” prospect facing him in the form of Gaethje.
“It just wakes me up a little bit earlier in the morning, it helps me go a couple of extra rounds,” Chandler said. “Be a little bit more focused in my preparation because I know this guy (Gaethje) ain’t going away quickly and I know what he wants to do inside that Octagon. He’s done it twenty-something (knockouts) times before. Phenomenal fighter, dangerous fighter.“
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