UFC 268: Usman vs. Covington 2 took place Nov. 6 at Madison Square Garden in New York. Lightweight contenders Justin Gaethje (22-3) and Michael Chandler (22-6) collided in the opening bout of the pay-per-view card. The fight aired live on ESPN+ pay-per-view.
Catch the video highlights below.
For more on Gaethje vs. Chandler, check out the live blog by MMA Fighting’s Jed Meshew.
Round 1: Both men out in orthodox and Gaethje leads with a leg kick immediately. Chandler lands a left hook out of the gate and Gaethje with the high guard. Both men keeping a wide distance from each other to start, clearly respecting the power of their opponent.
Gaethje is backing Chandler up but Chandler is keeping his eyes ope and landing some big counters. Gaethje still working on leg kicks and trying to pressure. Chandler backs Gaethje up with some bombs and Chandler landing his own leg kicks now.
Now it’s Chandler stepping forward and he lands a big right hand but Gaethje’s chin is holding up. Chandler really swinging hard to start. Gaethje trying to navigate the range and chopping away with the kicks.
Big right from Chandler stuns Gaethje but he’s so damn tough and he cracks him back. Jump knee! Gaethje eats another and is big hurt. Gaethje backing up and Chandler on top of him. Gaethje on the fEnce and wings shots back and Chandler gets clipped! THis is chaos! Classic Gaethje fight and now Chandler seems like he’s tired. Clinching inside and Chandler is cut from I think an elbow .
Chandler swinging soooo hard and Gaethje is catching these shots on his arms. Gaethje starting to turn the tide with leg kicks and his own right hands. Chandler clinching and lands a good shot isndie. So much action and Gaethje lands a huge uppercut. Chandler shoots a takedown and Gaethje’s words prove prophetic.
Chandler switches stances as his lead leg is mangled from kicks and Gaethje just keeps going. WHAT A GODDAMN ROUND.
MMA Fighting scores the round 10-9 Chandler (I think)
Round 2: That was absolute anarchy. Chandler landed some bombs but couldn’t get Gaethje out of there and Gaethje put in a lot of work that has gotten Chandler worn down. Fighting a Gaethje fight with Gaethje is a dangerous proposition.
Chandler’s lead leg looks to be compromised some but he does appear refreshed from a cardio standpoint. Now Chandler trying to be more composed with a jab and Gaethje is landing counter right hands. Chandler also going for the body more and upping his volume. Much more technical from Chandler here and Gaethje still trying to crowd him. Gaethje lands a big right hand that has Chandler backing up. Gaethje being so patient.
MONSTER UPPERCUT FROM GAETHJE DROPS CHANDLER!!!! Chandler is in full defense and grabs a single-leg but Gaethje sprawls and he’s trying to hammer him. Chandler holding on for dear life! Gaethje in a front headlock and peppering shots. Chandler is busted up and bleeding all over the mat. Gaethje moving to the back but then abandons it and let’s Chandler up. Chandler appears to have recovered some but his lead leg is shot.
Chandler trying to egg Gaethje on now but he’s starting to get battered. Another shot from Chandler is stuffed and Gaethje ands another lead uppercut. Chandler is standing on spit and courage but his return fire is not as powerful. Leg kick almost drops Chandler and Gaethje picking his spots.
Chandler is extremely tough and he’s trying to fight his way back in this but this is clearly Gaethje’s comfort zone now. Gaethje backing Chandler up and still working kicks. Big right hand from Chandler lands on the eye and Gaethje appeals to Beltran who steps in to stop the fight but Chandler punches him! Then Beltran steps in but then he restarts it without giving Gaethje time? That could’ve been catastrophic but the round ends.
MMA Fighting scores the round 10-9 Gaethje, 19-19 overall.
Round 3: This is Fight of the Year, no question and we’ve got another round. Chandler trying to bounce around on his leg. Both me so damn tough.
Now Gaethje with jabs and a low kick that hurts Chandler. Chandler is switching stances and checking kicks that never come. His leg is battered. Chandler still trying to punch back in there but he noticeably has less power now.
Chandler gritting it out though and going high volume with body work. Big uppercut and hook from Gaethje get Chandler backing up. He beckons Gaethje forward and a leg kick nearly drops him so Chadnler shoots a double-leg and gets it but Gaethje rolls through and now Gaethje has the back!
A right hand from behind hurts Chandler and now it’s Gaethje with back control and Chandler up against the fence. Big punch lands for Gaethje on the break. And another. Chandler rips the body. Chandler trying to brawl and he stuns Gaethje for a moment and gets him backing up. Gaethje clobbers Chandler and now Chandler is in full retreat! Chandler against the fence and hands down and just trying to ego his way through this but he’s getting teed off on.
ENORMOUS SHOTS FROM GAETHJE AND CHANDLER IS EATING THEM. HIS FACE IS A BLOOD MASK. Gaethje taking his time but both men seem to be spent and the last minute of this bout is mostly no attacks. I cannot believe this made it to the final bell.
MMA Fighting scores the round 10-9 Gaethje, 29-28 Gaethje overall.
Official Decision: Justin Gaethje defeats Michael Chandler by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27).