Michael Chandler insinuates Justin Gaethje avoiding fight against him; Gatheje responds (Updated)

michael chandler
Credit: USA TODAY Sports

A fight between Michael Chandler and Justin Gaethje in the Ultimate Fight Championship’s lightweight division would be an action-packed booking all fans would be energized for. However, based on recent comments from Chandler, he is not the hold-up in getting the fight made.

In an Instagram Live video, which was reposted by TheMacLife [h/t MMAJunkie], “Iron” took several shots at the second-ranked 155-pounder and his management team. Claiming Gaethje is avoiding the bout, and that his management is trying to angle instead for a fight with another client in fifth-ranked Islam Makachev.

Michael Chandler claims Justin Gaethje and his management are avoiding him

“Gaethje should be next. There’s no doubt about it,” Chandler said in the video. “There is no secret [Makhachev] and Gaethje share the same management. So obviously, that management would want to say, ‘Hey, throw Islam on the Chandler trail, so that it takes heat of Gaethje.’ But Justin Gaethje, come on bro. You call yourself a fighter, and you are. You’re one of the most exciting guys in mixed martial arts. Be prepared to make a highlight or be made a highlight. That’s what I’m ready to do.”

Chandler alleges Gaethje has ‘declined’ the fight ‘three or four’ times

The former Bellator lightweight champion’s frustrations have grown over the past year because he claims he’s pushed for a bout with Gaethje, 32, on multiple occasions, only to be turned down at every turn. The 35-year-old former UFC lightweight title challenger is confused on why this booking could be so problematic, considering his top-five ranking, and Gaethje’s inactivity over the last nine months.

“I’ve said Justin Gaethje’s name no less than 100 times since I signed with the organization. He’s been asked to fight me three or four different times. Every time he’s declined,” said Chandler. “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. That’s the fight I want and think it should be. It’s also a fight that I know fans want to see. I don’t really get why we haven’t heard anything yet.”

As the word spread of Chandler’s comments, the former World Series of Fighting lightweight champion responded to the “slander” being tossed his way.

“[Chandler] is talking out of his ass. I was waiting for the bout agreement 3 weeks into camp and wake up to news his daddy Dana gave him the shot.,” Gaethje wrote. “He’s been out of commission since the KO. What am I missing? I’m on vacay and this fucker is slandering my name. 3-4 times?”

Chandler lost to Charles Oliveira in May in a bid to win the promotion’s vacant lightweight title at UFC 262.

Gaethje has not stepped into the Octagon since falling short in dethroning former champion Khabib Nurmagomedov in October 2020 at UFC 254.

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