Chandler backs Gaethje to become lightweight champion by next summer

‘Justin Gaethje would break Charles Oliveira and beat Dustin Poirier in rematch’: Michael Chandler backs UFC 268 rival to become lightweight champion by next summer

  • Justin Gaethje delivered incredible performance against Michael Chandler
  • Victory puts him in line for a UFC lightweight title shot at some point in 2022
  • Either Gaethje or Islam Makhachev are next in line to face the champion 
  • Chandler believes Gaethje will beat either Charles Oliveira or Dustin Poirier 

Having shared the octagon for 15 brilliant, savage minutes with Justin Gaethje, Michael Chandler is convinced ‘The Highlight’ will become lightweight champion next year. 

Gaethje is pushing hard for an opportunity to face the winner of Charles Oliveira vs Dustin Poirier after their UFC 269 headliner. 

Islam Makhachev is also in the running but Chandler thinks Gaethje deserves it and has the right tools to defeat anyone in the division. 

Justin Gaethje defeated Michael Chandler at UFC 268 and wants the next title shot 

Charles Oliveira (L) and Dustin Poirier (R) fight for the belt on December 11 

‘I think Justin Gaethje is the clear-cut No. 1 contender,’ Chandler told The MMA Hour. 

‘He just beat me. [Islam] Makhachev, obviously the way he dispatched Dan Hooker was absolutely phenomenal. What he did was great. Does it warrant a title shot? Not compared to what Justin Gaethje has done, that’s my thought.

‘I think Justin Gaethje breaks Charles Oliveira. 

‘But the more likely scenario is Poirier wins that fight because I think he has more tools and he’s just better in certain areas and he’s not going to get submitted by Oliveira, even though we have seen an increased striking level by Oliveira, as we saw in our fight.

‘But I think Justin Gaethje cleans up a couple of things, remembers how he lost to Dustin Poirier a couple of years ago, and I think he wins the title, middle of next year.’

Even though Chandler lost his ferocious battle with Gaethje, the response from fans has been overwhelming to the point where it does not feel like a defeat for the American.

That said, he admits the way he went about taking on Gaethje was perhaps unwise. 

‘Probably not, but I also can’t control myself sometimes. I’m here to entertain. I loved competing, I love fighting for the UFC, I love what the last 13 months has been about, and this was definitely a culmination. 

The American does not regret the way he went about fighting Gaethje in their curtain-raiser

‘Fighting for the title a couple of months ago was great, but this was different. It felt historic, it felt like fight week we were leading up to a historic card as I’m signing the posters and as we’re going through everything and then it all culminated in a possible Fight of the Year candidate.

‘A lot of people say it’s the best fight that they’ve ever seen, so to be in those types of fights, you have to take some damage and have some ups and some downs and get hurt here and win some, lose some in different moments. 

‘So it’s definitely a lot more fun to go knock someone out and collect a paycheck and go home and kiss your wife, but those knockdown, drag-out wars solidify to people that you’re still here and you’re legit.’

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