One fighter is campaigning hard to fight No. 2-ranked UFC lightweight Justin Gaethje.
Since signing with the promotion last year, former Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler has consistently said Gaethje’s name as someone he’d like to fight. And it appears fighting “The Highlight” is on the top of Chandler’s list for a comeback fight.
The issue? Well, according to “Iron,” Gaethje is avoiding the fight. Chandler made the claim earlier this week, which prompted a strong response from Gaethje. After that, Chandler issued a challenge to The Highlight to “make it happen.”
The back and forth started when Chandler said Gaethje’s been offered to fight him “three or four different times,” however The Highlight “declined” every time.
“I’ll tell you what,” Chandler said during a recent Instagram Live via MMANews.com. “I’ve said Justin Gaethje’s name no less than 100 times since I’ve signed with the organization. He’s been asked to fight me three or four different times. Every time he’s declined. He and I are ranked two spots away from each other. He has not fought since last October. He needs to get a fight in if he thinks he’s going to fight for the title. For some reason, him and his camp have no interest in fighting me.”
Gaethje hasn’t competed since losing his 155-pound title bid to Khabib Nurmagomedov in October 2020.
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Gaethje Responded to Chandler, Said Chandler Is ‘Slandering” His Name
Gaethje did not take kindly to Iron’s claims, to say the least.
Taking to Twitter after Chandler’s Instagram Live, The Highlight said he was actively training for the vacant lightweight title shot, which took place at UFC 262 in May 2021. According to Gaethje’s tweet, he was “waiting for a bout agreement three weeks into camp” but then found out UFC president Dana White granted Chandler the opportunity to fight for the belt, not Gaethje.
Iron fought Charles Oliveira and lost via second-round TKO.
“@MikeChandlerMMA is talking out of his a**,” Gaethje tweeted on July 21, 2021. “I was waiting for the bout agreement 3 weeks into camp and wake up to news his daddy Dana gave him the shot. He’s been out of commission since the KO. What am I missing? I’m on vacay and this f****r is slandering my name. 3-4 times?”
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Chandler Then Told Gaethje to ‘Make It Happen’ for ‘The Fans’
Regardless of this back and forth, a fight between Gaethje and Chandler has a high likelihood of being an instant classic. Both fighters are resilient power punchers with fantastic wrestling, and both are willing to come forward, no matter the danger.
With Gaethje ranked No. 2 and Iron No. 4, from a rankings standpoint the fight makes sense as well. Both men are coming off a loss and the winner of this potential scrap will be set up for possibly another title shot or at least, a title eliminator bout.
Chandler responded to Gaethje’s tweet on Saturday, July 24. And Chandler made it clear he, and the fans, want the fight to come together.
“Let’s make it happen then,” Chandler responded. “The fans want it. I’ve been asking for it.”