In addition to the two championship fights, UFC 268 has one of the best bouts to ask for today from lightweight. Former interim champion Justin Gaethje faces the latest challenger, Michael Chandler, in a match where the clash of styles can thrill any MMA fan.
Gathje is coming off unification with Khabib Nurmagomedov, a painful loss that put him in perspective, return to training and take a quality leap to be able to wear the absolute belt soon. Like his teammates Kamaru Usman and Rose Namajunas who will defend their scepters at the legendary Madison Square Garden minutes after he steps into the Octagon.
“It was a whole year of work, when you lose the fire is lit in your butt, I returned home, ready to work. This camp has been amazing, nine or ten months keeping me in shape and then the last three have been tough. Together with Kamaru Usman and Rose Namajunas who are preparing for a championship fight, knowing that I am working as hard as they are, it gives me confidence, “he said in an interview with ESPN Deportes.
After a 2020 where he faced Tony Ferguson and Khabib, he had to make the right decision, a rival that would bring him closer to another championship fight and that’s how the opportunity with Chandler came.
“He just fought for a championship, after that fight it was perfect for me. No one else could put me in a position like this, another title fight. I win on Saturday and I will face the winner of Poirier against Oliveira and that is the goal ”, he advanced.
Gaethje strongly claimed Daniel Cormier for supporting his teammate Islam Makhachev to receive the next opportunity to the title and assures that “there will be a riot” if his fight for the belt is stolen, although he believes that the Russian could be his first rival to the title “
“There is a process here, a way that things work. He has eight or nine wins in a row, but he fought No. 14, jumped to No. 5 and then faced Dan Hooker last minute. That’s not the way to fight for a title, he’s doing things the right way, fighting bigger names each time and will fight for the title maybe late next year. It might be my first belt defense, who knows, but there’s a way this works, you have to face the best, but you still don’t face one of those in full camp. He has to show that before fighting for the title, “he added.
He hopes that Chandler, who like him has a past as a collegiate wrestler to back him up, will follow through with all that has been said and go out to fight on his feet, but he thinks he won’t be able to keep up with his punching rhythm.
“He says he wants a fire on fire fight, I think after a couple of kicks and a few punches, if he doesn’t feel good on his feet he will have to involve his fight, I know what he will do after the first three or four. minutes, “predicted the Arizona native.
After two belt fights without an audience, he says the most exciting part of fighting again is getting the people in the stands excited again.
His fight has moved to the beginning of the main card this Saturday to give space to his coach Trevor Wittman, who will be in the corner of the two monarchs that expose on the card. Both Usman and Namajunas have seen the best moments of their careers working with him, because “he concentrates on the basics of hitting, when you work with a coach they teach you 1-2-3, but they don’t tell you anything about leg work. , the ability to create and attack angles and that’s what he does best, ”he explained.
Gaethje and Chandler open the UFC 268 main card this Saturday, returning to New York after a two-year absence.