This year, the UFC have introduced five round, non-title, non-main event fights on main cards for the first time in their antiquity. Nate Diaz met with Leon Edwards over five rounds at UFC 263 in June. And later this month at UFC 266 — Nick Diaz returns to the Octagon in a five round main card rematch with Robbie Lawler.
These type of five round sanctioned bouts have so far been limited to the Diaz brothers, however, if offered the chance to turn his three round main card bout with Michael Chandler into a five round pairing, UFC 268 feature, Justin Gaethje would have no interest.
Set to return on November 5. at Madison Square Garden, former interim titleholder, Gaethje draws recent undisputed lightweight title challenger, Chandler in a high-stakes title-eliminator in New York — stepping foot inside the Octagon for the first time since October.
The Arizona native headlined UFC 254 last year on ‘Fight Island’ in Abu Dhabi, UAE — dropping a lightweight title unification defeat against former lightweight kingpin, the now-retired, Khabib Nurmagomedov.
For Chandler, the Missouri veteran dropped his first Octagon loss in May at UFC 262 — suffering a second round knockout loss against recently minted lightweight best, Charles Oliveira at the Toyota Centre in Houston, Texas.
Speaking with ESPN MMA ahead of the showdown with Chandler, Gaethje distanced himself from those type of five round bouts if he were not headlining an event, claiming he would only save his body for chronic injury, or even death in a five round fight.
“F*ck that,” Gaethje said. “Why would I sign up for two more rounds? I get paid the same. I get paid the same, at the end of the day. If I’m gonna ever suffer a critical, chronic (injury), or ultimately, death in that cage, it will be in round four or five. So I’ll save those for championship fights or main events. I’m cool.“
Headlining in his four most recent victories, Gaethje managed to get the trio of James Vick, Edson Barboza, and Donald Cerrone out of the Octagon with opening round knockouts, before being forced to the fifth round in an interim title fight against Tony Ferguson back in May of last year — snapping the one-time interim gold holder’s division-tying 12-fight winning spree.