Michael Chandler lost a back and forth war with Justin Gaethje at UFC 268. Following this though, he believes that Gaethje is going to be a future champion.
Chandler has made quite the splash since coming from Bellator to the UFC, despite losing two of his three fights. Each time he steps in the Octagon he brings a crazy pace, and that was no more evident than his three round loss to Gaethje that saw both men rocked, in the Fight of the Year contender.
Speaking on The MMA Hour, Chandler said that he was doing well after this war, in terms of physical damage. He says that even though losing sucks, this was one of those situations where he felt like there were two winners.
“I don’t want to justify losing ever. I want to win more than anybody. I do things right, I believe that I deserve to win. It was the first time in my life, where I got my hand grabbed by the ref, and Justin Gaethje is over there, and I’m like ‘Oh shoot, I forgot there’s actually going to be a winner and a loser here right now,’ because I was having that much fun. It was a loss, but if there was ever a loss that felt like a win, this was one. Y’all were the beneficiaries of it. We all had a good time that night, it was a historic night, and here we are, we move forward,” Chandler said.
“I feel like a million bucks man. We both went to the hospital. It wasn’t even a question. They were like ‘Okay, go see the doctors now, and then your ambulance is right there.’ I’m like ‘I gotta go to the hospital?’ and they were like ‘Yeah, you’ve gotta go to the hospital.’ … I feel great man, I do. All the x-rays checked out, I might get some more tests here and there, just on knee and hand, and that kind of stuff. But for the most part, I’m still high on the loss that feels like a win.”
Michael Chandler Was Happy For Three Rounds
One of the sentiments that Justin Gaethje said after the war with Michael Chandler, was that he was glad it was a three round fight instead of a five round bout. He said that this would have left Mike taking more damage than necessary.
This is something that Michael understands, but feels like it went both ways. He too was happy about it being a 15 minute fight, but says that if there were two other rounds, he could have just as easily gotten the best of Gaethje.
“I don’t know, I’m glad it wasn’t (five rounds). At the pace we were going… Truthfully I would’ve had just as good a chance of maybe finishing him in the fourth or the fifth, because the fight was going like that. I think both of us were landing big shots. He was landing big shots, I was landing big shots. We both got hurt, we both got wobbled,” Chandler said.
“In a lot of ways, I think 15 minutes is better than 25 because there was no governor, there wasn’t a break pedal in sight. Neither of us touched a break pedal whatsoever. We wanted to go as hard as we possibly could for 15 minutes. 25 minutes you start venturing into the realm of your body shutting down and having to conserve energy.”
Justin Gaethje Is The Future Champ
With his win over Michael Chandler, Justin Gaethje has more or less asserted himself as the top contender for the lightweight title. That belt is set to be contested between champ Charles Oliveira, and top contender Dustin Poirier, but the expectation is that Justin will be next.
Chandler says that he thinks Dustin is going to be the new champion after December 11th. However, regardless of how that fight goes, he thinks that Justin Gaethje will be able to beat both men, and will be the champion next year.
“I think he goes and beats Dustin Poirier, or Charles Oliveira, middle of next year. Then maybe we’ll set up a rematch when I get a win or two. We’ll see what happens,” Chandler said.
“I loved what Justin Gaethje said after the fight… He’s like ‘We were born in the wrong time. We should’ve been two gladiators fighting to the death.’ The said thing is, it’s absolutely true, and that’s what I said to him after the fight. I said ‘I knew you didn’t dislike me. I knew that you knew this about me, I knew that you knew that I was your equal.’ We had a blast man, hats off to him. I think Justin Gaethje is going to be our lightweight champion by the middle of next year.”
Michael Chandler Calls Out Conor McGregor
Shortly after the fight, Michael Chandler called for a fight with Conor McGregor. This is something he is still interested in, although not for the same reasons as most people.
Michael says that he wants Conor not because of the payday, although he admits that would be nice. Instead, he has a lot of respect for what Conor has done for the sport, and would like to test himself against the biggest star MMA has ever seen.
“Everyone wants Conor obviously, but I think I want to fight him for a different reason. Everybody wants to fight Conor because it’s a big payday. I’m here in mixed martial arts to do big things, to be in big fights, big stages, against big opponents, in big arenas, with a lot of eyeballs. That’s what excites me about a fight with Conor,” Chandler said.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for Conor, and people will discredit what he has done because of certain things that he’s said, but what he has done is revolutionize the entire sport. The sport of mixed martial arts is better because Conor McGregor is in it. It’s bigger, and it’s got more eyeballs on it because of what Conor’s done. So to share the Octagon with him, that’s why I want to do it. It’s not the payday, it’s the red panty night, it’s not all the other things that these fighters are chasing. Of course, do I want that? Do I want to proceed for my family? Of course. But I want epic moments of maximum amounts of impact, and that’s what you get when you fight Conor McGregor…
“I think it’s a fight that makes sense. I think I’m a guy who’s solidified himself in the top of the division. Conor needs to come back and get a win, but he’s also got a ton of options. We’ll see what happens,” Chandler added.
It will be interesting to see where Michael Chandler goes from here. After a war like that, he deserves to rest up and take a less violent fight.