Michael Chandler responds to Justin Gaethje, clarifies ‘anti-vaxxer’ narrative

Michael Chandler didn’t intend to change into the middle of controversy final month when he revealed throughout an Instagram Reside chat that he wasn’t going to be vaccinated for COVID-19 forward of his Nov. 6 battle in opposition to Justin Gaethje at UFC 268.

Chandler divulged his stance as a response to new COVID-19 vaccination mandates carried out in New York which require residents to point out proof of vaccination upon coming into eating places, gyms, and indoor leisure venues. In his preliminary feedback, Chandler mentioned that he was unsure if his bout with Gaethje, which is ready to happen at Madison Sq. Backyard, can be put in jeopardy due to the New York mandates.

It wasn’t till afterward that Chandler realized his phrases had taken on a lifetime of their very own.

“The humorous factor in regards to the vaccination factor was, I didn’t come out, I didn’t do one story to inform folks about it, in regards to the vaccine,” Chandler mentioned Wednesday on The MMA Hour. “I didn’t get in your present and begin speaking in regards to the vaccine. I used to be in a non-public Instagram Reside session with a pair thousand folks or no matter it was. 5 minutes after I hit ‘Finish Reside,’ one of many MMA media retailers come out and mentioned Chandler isn’t getting vaxxed, after which I bought labeled an anti-vaxxer.

“I don’t personally have the vaccine proper now. I don’t know if I ever will get the vaccine. Personally, I simply consider that we reside within the best nation on the planet. I consider that that is the best nation on the planet due to our particular person liberties and our particular person selections, particularly with regards to our our bodies and our medical historical past and our well being. In order that’s the place I stand on it. And it wasn’t a heel flip in any respect. It was simply the individuals who labelled me an anti-vaxxer clearly thought I used to be a heel, when actually I used to be simply answering a query.”

The feedback reached all the best way to Gaethje, who lately mentioned on UFC Unfiltered that he believes Chandler “was simply in search of consideration” by taking a non-public well being matter and volunteering it up for a public area.

In his authentic Instagram Reside, Chandler mentioned that he was “not going to get the vaccine till it’s 100% FDA accepted,” nevertheless after he later backtracked on that declare as soon as the FDA accepted a number of of the most typical vaccine strains, stating that he didn’t desire a COVID-19 vaccine “FDA approval or not” and writing on Twitter in response to a fan that “all of us change our minds quite a few occasions a day.”

When requested about Gaethje, Chandler mentioned he isn’t precisely certain how Gaethje reached the conclusion he did contemplating the strategy through which Chandler began the dialog.

“If I had hopped on and finished a media tour about how I’m not taking the vaccine or if I used to be telling everyone that the vaccine was rubbish or one thing, in fact that might be me in search of consideration,” Chandler mentioned. “I used to be in a non-public Instagram Reside, by myself IG Reside with my followers and a pair thousand those that have been asking questions on it — after which the article broke and got here out. In order that was the humorous factor too, which, that’s fully high-quality, it’s a hot-button problem. It’s a sizzling matter proper now. Persons are 100% in opposition to it, persons are 100% for it, after which there’s lots of people in between who don’t know what to assume, so it’s simply an enormous problem on a world stage.

“So if I had finished that, sure, I might be 100% OK with Justin Gaethje saying I used to be in search of consideration. However the truth that it was on an Instagram Reside and a media outlet picked up my phrases and put them on the market, that reveals you proper there that it was a non-public [discussion], no completely different than me and also you having a non-public dialog at a restaurant and somebody overhearing it after which performing like, hey, since I’ve this big platform I shouldn’t be speaking about it. Effectively, wait a second, I used to be speaking about it principally in a non-public discussion board.”

In the long run, the whole dialogue proved to be a lot ado about nothing. New York’s new vaccination mandates don’t even apply to athletes competing at UFC 268, and so far as Chandler is aware of, his bout in opposition to his fellow light-weight contender is locked and loaded for Nov. 6.

“We’re all methods go for Madison Sq. Backyard on November sixth,” Chandler mentioned. “Clearly it’s simply change into a world proper now the place plenty of issues are up within the air. You by no means fairly know. You by no means know for those who’re preventing at Madison Sq. Backyard till you’re there, the occasion begins, they usually name your title and also you’re strolling to the octagon. In order that’s the state of the world that we reside in, [but] as of proper now, all methods go and I couldn’t be happier to battle in Madison Sq. Backyard below the UFC banner. It’s going to be an enormous present and an outstanding card that they put collectively.”

That’s good, as a result of Gaethje vs. Chandler is ready to be an essential bout for the light-weight division. The 2 males are each ranked inside the highest 5 of MMA Preventing’s World Rankings, with Gaethje at present perched at No. 3 and Chandler sitting at No. 5.

The winner will propel themselves again into the UFC championship image following failed title challenges by each males of their most up-to-date bouts, and Chandler is happy for the chance to check himself in opposition to one of the vital thrilling all-action fighters the division has ever produced.

“I believe you all the time put together for an extended, drawn-out battle,” Chandler mentioned. “I believe you all the time put together for a man that you just simply can’t end, a man that simply continues to return ahead with every part you hit him with — and Justin Gaethje is that. You’re kidding your self for those who don’t assume that Justin Gaethje is not only violent and never simply expert, however man, the dude has cardio and coronary heart in droves. So I’m getting ready for 15 onerous, onerous minutes. The toughest battle of my life.

“However I believe best-case situation I land one fairly darn onerous on his temple or his chin and put him out. However that’s what each fighter desires. You need the knockout and also you need the short, simple paycheck, in fact, however you’ve bought to be prepared for that 15-minute battle. And if I needed to guess, I believe if there’s a end it’s taking place afterward, second or third spherical, as a result of I believe each of us are simply not going to get hit with something too loopy clear so as to get completed. However that’s what I’m getting ready for. We’ll see.”

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