Justin Gaethje has hit back after Michael Chandler suggested the former interim lightweight champion is ducking him.

‘The Highlight’ hasn’t been seen inside the Octagon since October 2020. The 32-year-old fell short in his bid to unify the division against Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 254. Gaethje ended up being choked unconscious in the second round. The loss to Khabib snapped Gaethje’s four-fight winning streak.

Chandler is coming off an unsuccessful title bid of his own. The former Bellator champion fell to a second-round TKO defeat at the hands of Charles Oliveira in the main event of UFC 262.

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In May, Dana White talked up a potential fight between Gaethje and Chandler. Understandably, fight fans got excited about another blockbuster lightweight bout. For one reason or another, the UFC boss hasn’t been able to book that fight yet.

Chandler recently claimed the problem lay with Gaethje, he said.

“I’ll tell you what, I’ve said Justin Gaethje’s name no less than a 100 times since I’ve signed with the organization. He has been asked to fight me three or four different times; every time he has declined. He and I rank two spots away from each other. He hasn’t fought since last October. He needs to get a fight if he thinks he’s gonna fight for the title. For some reason, him and his camp have no interest in fighting me.”

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Gaethje has since accused Chandler of “slandering” his name.

“@MikeChandlerMMA is talking out of his ass,” Gaethje wrote on social media. “I was waiting for the bout agreement 3 weeks into camp and wake up to news his daddy Dana gave him the shot. He’s been out of commission since the KO. What am I missing? I’m on vacay and this fucker is slandering my name. 3-4 times”

What do you think is stopping the UFC from booking Justin Gaethje vs. Michael Chandler?

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A lifelong fight fan from Liverpool, England who has been covering mixed martial arts (MMA) and boxing for several years. Follow @JordanEllisUK on Twitter for all the latest fight news, views, interviews and live event coverage.