An intriguing top five matchup within the lightweight division will take place on the main card of UFC 268.
No. 2 ranked lightweight Justin Gaethje will enter the octagon for the first time in 2021 as he will face former three-time Bellator world champion and no. 4 ranked contender Michael Chandler, according to a report from ESPN’s Brett Okamoto.
Gaethje has not fought since he was defeated by the then-defending UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov UFC 254 in Oct. 2020, who retired directly after the fight and vacated the UFC lightweight championship.
Chandler debuted with the promotion not long after in Jan. 2021.
In the co-main event of UFC 257, Chandler knocked out Dan Hooker in the first round and scored himself a performance of the night bonus along with a shot at the vacant lightweight belt.
At UFC 262 earlier this year in May, Chandler faced off against current UFC lightweight champion Charles Oliveria for the UFC lightweight title.
Chandler knocked down Oliveira in the first round and appeared to have him in serious trouble, but Oliveira rebounded and finished Chandler by way of TKO 19 seconds into the second round to claim the vacant UFC lightweight championship.
Gaethje and Chandler have gone back and forth over social media since Chandler called him out publicly on Instagram live, and with the two top-five contenders both coming off a loss and needing a fight, this contest makes perfect sense.
This fan-friendly matchup will provide an emerging top contender in the lightweight division along with bolstering a UFC 268 card headlined by the highly-anticipated championship rematch between UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman and no. 1 contender Colby Covington.