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Morning Report: Michael Chandler won’t be vaccinated by UFC 268, thinks fight with Justin Gaethje is in jeopardy

UFC 262: Charles Oliveira v Michael Chandler
Michael Chandler | Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

A highly anticipated lightweight contenders bout between Michael Chandler and Justin Gaethje might not be coming to The World’s Most Famous Arena after all.

During an Instagram Live chat Wednesday, Chandler expressed his trepidation over the new COVID-19 vaccination mandates laid out for the state of New York. As of Aug. 16 (full enforcement beginning on Sept. 13), customers will be required to show proof of vaccination to enter restaurants, gyms, and indoor entertainment venues. These rules would presumably affect the UFC’s proposed trip to Madison Square Garden for UFC 268 on Nov. 6, which has the three-time Bellator lightweight champion and one-time UFC title challenger concerned that his meeting with Gaethje may not proceed as scheduled.

Chandler is not planning to be vaccinated by Nov. 6, which he understands could prevent him from fighting in New York.

“I just saw that New York is dropping some heavy mandates on the city of New York City,” Chandler said (transcript via MMA Junkie). “Basically, they’re requiring you to be vaccinated (and) show proof of vaccination for indoor dining, indoor fitness and indoor performances and entertainment. Obviously a UFC card, a UFC fight being thrown at Madison Square Garden is considered indoor entertainment and indoor performance.

“I will not be vaccinated at that point. I don’t know how many fighters, if I was to fight on that Nov. 6 card—or whoever is fighting on Nov. 6 at Madison Square Garden—I don’t know how many fighters will be vaccinated. I don’t really have a tally on who is or isn’t.”

UFC President Dana White told TSN that he will not demand that his fighters receive a COVID-19 vaccination. He insisted that he will “never tell another human being what to do with their body” and that the choice to vaccinate will belong to the fighters. White’s comments come two weeks after the NFL announced that its players will not be required to vaccinate, but that an outbreak among unvaccinated players could result in the forfeiture of games and game checks.

Chandler stated that he is not against vaccination, but that he is waiting until the vaccine is fully approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Currently, the FDA is still working towards fully approving the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.

Regardless, Chandler reiterated that he will not be vaccinated come November and should that be a requirement for him to fight Gaethje on Nov. 6, then the bout may have to be postponed, assuming that the event takes place in New York at all. White has previously stated that he will not bring the octagon to a venue during the pandemic unless it can be sold out at full capacity.

“It’s not that I’m anti-vax,” Chandler continued. “It’s not that I don’t believe in the vaccine, necessarily. I’m just not going to get the vaccine until it’s 100 percent FDA approved. We’ve had hundreds of clinical trials, just like we had the vaccines that my son has had – measles and chicken pox and all of the vaccines that have been around for 100 years that have been proven. We shall see. I don’t know what’s going to happen.

“More than anything, the chances of the UFC being able to sell out Madison Square Garden with only people that are vaccinated really cuts down their ability to sell out Madison Square Garden. So I don’t really know. I think it calls into question if Madison Square Garden will actually happen, to be honest with you guys. The UFC is brilliant and geniuses at putting things together and putting their fights together. But as I said, I’m not anti-vaccine. I think vaccines are effective. I think it’s everybody’s choice whether they want to take the vaccine. I won’t be vaccinated by Nov. 6, so I won’t be able to perform or entertain at Madison Square Garden. So we shall see.”


Rankings. Controversy abound in the latest edition of the MMA Fighting Global Rankings.

Grudge. Khabib Nurmagomedov addresses Conor McGregor’s recent comments about his father.

Never. Dana White won’t make his fighters take a COVID-19 vaccine.

Insurance. Light heavyweight contender Jiri Prochazka will serve as a backup to the upcoming Jan Blachowicz vs. Glover Teixeira title fight at UFC 267.

Debunked. Vitor Belfort’s alleged close call with the Olympics is being called into question.

Back. Retired featherweight contender Chad Mendes will soon fight for the BKFC.


UFC 265 media day.

The A-Side Live chat replay.


Behind the scenes of T.J. Dillashaw’s fight with Cory Sandhagen at UFC Vegas 33.

Just a whole lotta Gaethje leg kicks, because why not?


Hotboxin’. Mike Tyson and Henry Cejudo chat with Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Jack Slack. Breaking down the biggest fights of UFC 265.


Mystic Bones.


Shout-out to moms.

Picture day.


El Cucuy Jr.

Spoiler: It’s Cyborg.


Marcelo Golm (8-3) vs. Kelvin Tiller (11-5); Bellator 264, Aug. 13

Olivier Aubin-Mercier (12-5) vs. Darrell Horcher (14-4); PFL 2021 #7: Playoffs, Aug. 13

Brett Cooper (27-15) vs. Tyler Hill (10-5); PFL 2021 #7: Playoffs, Aug. 13

Elvin Espinoza (5-0) vs. Hopeton Stewart (5-1); PFL 2021 #7: Playoffs, Aug. 13

Magomed Magomedkerimov (28-5) vs. Sadibou Sy (9-5-2, 1 NC); PFL 2021 #7: Playoffs, Aug. 13

Gleison Tibau (35-15) vs. Curtis Millender (18-8); PFL 2021 #7: Playoffs, Aug. 13

Fedor Emelianenko (39-6, 1 NC) vs. Timothy Johnson (15-7); Bellator Moscow, Oct. 23

Alexander Volkov (33-9) vs. Marcin Tybura (22-6); UFC 267, Oct. 30


Man, it would really suck to miss out on a Gaethje-Chandler fight. Let’s hope they get this situation in New York sorted out or that they can find another spot to host this one, which deserves to be seen in front of fans and not relegated to the UFC APEX.


If you find something you’d like to see in the Morning Report, hit up @JedKMeshew on Twitter and let him know about it. Also follow MMAFighting on Instagram and like us on Facebook.

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