Two of the UFC‘s elite lightweights put on an absolute clinic to open UFC 268, as Justin Gaethje defeated Michael Chandler by unanimous decision in a thrilling fight.
It was so brutal, both men were taken to hospital after the fight.
The fight was moved to the opener of the main card and there wasn’t an empty seat in Madison Square Garden as the two put on a fight of the year contender.
Both men looked wobbly in the first as they traded bombs, and the fight was nearly over in the early stages of the second round, Gaethje sending Chandler to the mat with a brutal uppercut – but a desperation single leg takedown bought Chandler some time before they eventually got back to their feet.
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Both men looked like they’d already been five rounds, not one, as the buzzer went at the end of the first. Chandler’s face was a brutal and bloody mess at the end of the second as Gaethje’s name was chanted around the arena and Chandler copped a few boos after an accidental eye poke in the final moments.
In the third and final round, Gaethje managed to flip out of a takedown attempt as again both men absorbed ridiculous amounts of punishment.
At one point, commentator Joe Rogan let out an exasperated “oh my god” as the two men continued to belt each other.
When the third ended, everyone watching could only wish it was a five-round fight instead.
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The two shared a lengthy embrace as they waited for the judges’ scorecards, with no obvious winner.
Gaethje undoubtedly won the second round, but the other two were up in the air.
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But in the end, it was the former interim champ’s arm that was raised, with the judges scoring it 29-28, 30-27 and 29-28 for him.
“He is a warrior, we are living in the wrong times let me tell you,” Gaethje said post-fight.
“He and I should have been fighting in the Colosseum. That’s what should have happened.”