Contracts are expected to be signed shortly for the former interim lightweight champion and one-time title challenger, multiple people with knowledge of negotiations told MMA Fighting after an initial report from ESPN.com. UFC 268 is expected to take place Nov. 6, and the promotion has targeted Madison Square Garden in New York City as the host venue.
A matchup between Gaethje and Chandler was reportedly in the works for UFC 262, but Chandler was instead booked to fight for the then-vacant title after now-former champ Khabib Nurmagomedov officially retired and vacated his title. Gaethje voiced his displeasure at the turn of events.
Chandler went on to face Charles Oliveira for the vacant title and lost via second-round TKO in his first loss in the octagon since defecting from his longtime promotional home with Bellator, where he was a three-time lightweight champ. Chandler’s UFC run started with a bang when he knocked out Dan Hooker at UFC 257.
Gaethje’s title hopes were delayed in a title unification match against Nurmagomedov at UFC 254. He was submitted in the second round by the undefeated fighter, who later announced he would hang up his gloves. The former WSOF champ saw a four-fight winning streak snapped.
Since then, Gaethje has vented his frustration with inactivity. When Chandler subsequently accused him of ducking a fight, he reminded fans of their near-miss and had a few choice words for the ex-Bellator champ.