Since this fight is going to be chaos from the opening moments, I'm following suit and not wasting time with an intro to this article.
This fight is outrageous. The return of Justin Gaethje is something MMA fans have been patiently waiting for since his loss to Khabib back in October of 2020. The man who will stand across from him on Saturday night has certainly not had the same hiatus, but has similar questions surrounding his upcoming performance.
Both of these men are coming off of a failed attempt at claiming UFC gold, yet they find themselves still right on the cusp of another shot.
But even if there weren't title implications present in this fight - it would not matter - because this fight is going to be phenomenal.
Chandler has openly stated that Gaethje will be the one who takes the first step backwards. And I'm not positive I've ever actually seen Gaethje take a backwards step in the octagon. And despite how chaotic both of these men can be when that cage door closes, I think it has been a little bit forgotten just how skilled both of these fighters are.
Gaethje's performance against Tony Ferguson was a shock for a lot of MMA fans. The poise that he showed in that fight against Ferguson who is looking to turn a fight into a knockdown drag-out war was nothing less than incredible.
He is a deceivingly intelligent fighter, who's striking is precise and his footwork is deliberate and beautiful to watch. And we all know that when it comes down to mano y mano, Justin Gaethje is more than willing to go to war.
Now Chandler is incredibly similar. Even Kamaru Usman, who has now spent years training closely with both of these men, laughed when stating how similar they are.
Over this fight week it seems that Chandler's Fight IQ has come into question, with the main point of reference being his decision to follow Charles Oliviera to the ground after the knockdown in the first round of their title fight. While in retrospect that was obviously the wrong decision because he lost, it is a very confirmation bias-y, low-hanging fruit opinion to take.
Chandler, who of course trains with the legendary Henry Hooft, has much more deliberate striking than I think he gets credit for. His style makes it appear like he swings wildly and gets lucky when he lands, but those big shots that he tends to land are all set up beautifully.
I think we might see a much more technically sound fight than people are expecting, and I think it will transform into the war we all want as the fight goes on. The skill of both of these men is going to show through in the beginning of the fight, and as they have to dig deep the dog is going to come out in both of them.
Unlike most people, I actually could see this fight reaching that final bell. Both of these guys can take a shot, and neither has an ounce of quit in them. This fight being the curtain jerker of the main card actually does make it a little bit more interesting, I think they both are going to come in a little bit more loose.
If this isn't fight of the night, then something crazy must have happened in another fight because neither of these guys have ever disappointed and I don't see them starting now.
My predictions will come later this week, and I've got a fun one for this fight.
Only a couple more sleeps everyone.