Justin Gaethje and Michael Chandler put on an instant classic scrap tonight at UFC 268, dishing out and receiving a crazy amount of punishment over the course of three rounds, before Gaethje emerged with his hand raised on the scorecards.
Missed leg kick from Gaethje to start. Chandler lands a solid punch. left hook from Chandler too. Gaethje short with a few punches, but then does land one. Now a low kick from him too.
Jab for Gaethje. Leg kick from Chandler. Chopping calf kick from Gaethje. Chandler lands one too.
Now they start to trade punches and Chandler lands the better shot in that exchange. Back to the leg kicks. Chandler landing again upstairs.
Gaethje with a low kick. Chandler scores with a punch to the head. Both men are throwing caution to the wind and landing heavy leather.
Gaethje lands the low kick. Thunderous right hand from Chandler and another punch behind it. He can’t take too many of those.
Chandler with a flying knee. Now a couple of big punches down the pipe and Gaethje gets rocked, wobbles for a moment, but stays upright. Now in close they are still punching with big power and Gaethje hurts Chandler with an uppercut.
Wild stuff here. Almost every punch is hurting here from both men. Chandler has cuts now to the face and looks a little fatigued, but he’s still swinging for the fences.
Chandler attempts a takedown and Gaethje brushes it off. Heavy leg kick from Gaethje. Now a solid punch too. Another big low kick from Gaethje. Crazy round and it’s remarkable nobody got finished with all those bombs being launched.
jab for Chandler. Big one-two from Gaethje. Now an inside calf kick for him. Body punch from Chandler. Another heavy body blow behind a jab.
Gaethje threatens with a left hook. More body work from Chandler and a low kick too. Calf kick from Gaethje. Good right hook for Gaethje.
Calf kick from Gaethje and backs Chandler up, winging a big hook, then backs back up. left hook from Gaethje. He blasts him with an uppercut and Chandler drops backwards to the mat.
Gaethje follows him to the mat and tries to land blows, but Chandler gets to his knees and tries to work a takedown. Nothing doing with that and Gaethje lands some punches to the body.
Chandler bleeding from the face as Gaethje opts to get back upright. They trade low kicks. Chandler attempts a takedown, but it’s easily stuffed.
Chandler pushes off the cage and lands a punch. Chandler not able to get a takedown and Gaethje punishes him to the leg again.
Power punch from Gaethje. Body work for Chandler and then one upstairs. Gaethje grazes him with a hook.
Jab from Gaethje. Right and a left hand from him, then a couple of low kicks. left hook lands. One-two from Chandler and Gaethje backs up and turns away, having been caught by a grazing eyepoke. The ref doesn’t stop it immediately and Chandler looks to follow-up, landing again, before the time-out.
The ref asks Gaethje if he’s ok and then starts the fight again quickly before he’s had time to recover. Strange decision, but there’s only a few seconds of the round remaining.
Inside low kick from Gaethje. Now a jab. Calf kick and Chandler spins around from that. Jab again from Gaethje.
Another solid jab for Gaethje. Now a right hand. Right lands for Chandler. Another low kick for Gaethje. Chandler goes to the body.
Uppercut attempt from Gaethje, but Chandler was backing up out of danger. Two piece for Chandler and then punches to the body too.
Chandler rips to the body again. Two heavy low kicks for Chandler and then two huge punches. Chandler didn’t like that and soon after tries for a takedown. He goes for a big slam, but Gaethje rolls out of that. He opts not to keep it down though.
Back on the feet and Chandler is throwing caution to the wind with an all-out offensive onslaught. Big punches land and Gaethje is getting hurt. However, in typical Gaethje fashion he then fires back and lands bombs that quickly have him in trouble again.
Remarkably, Chandler does not back down, and instead with his hands low is inviting Gaethje to punch more. As he walks forward Gaethje does tag him hard and he has to back up on unsteady legs momentarily.
Chandler still showing crazy heart and toughness though and has to endure some more big blows, but makes it to the final bell.
What an incredible war that was then and it’s genuinely astonishing that there wasn’t a finish here as both men absorbed blows that would have easily finished lesser opponents.
In the end though it was Gaethje who dished out the lion’s share of the punishment and so it’s he who emerges with a unanimous decision victory (29-28 x2, 30-27).