UFC slugger Justin Gaethje criticizes potential ‘$1 million mistake’ from referee (VIDEO)

UFC lightweight Justin Gaethje has criticized referee Mike Beltran for ignoring an eye-poke and allowing opponent Michael Chandler to punch him during their dramatic UFC 268 thriller, which he says could have cost him $1 million.

The thrilling encounter between the two fiercely exciting 155lbs contenders has been hailed as one of the year's best fights, with neither man - both of whom have been world champions outside the UFC - taking a backward step throughout the bout which somehow went the full 15 minutes.

Gaethje, though, was the man who had his hand raised when it was all said and done - but the former UFC world title challenger has said afterwards that things could have been very different had he been knocked out by a Chandler right hand towards the end of the second round after Gaethje had complained to the referee of an eye-poke. 

As the footage shows, Chandler accidentally connected with Gaethje's right eye with a pawing left which prompted him to retreat backwards towards the cage, apparently in anticipation of a referee intervention which never came. 

Fight official Beltran even appeared to momentarily signal for a timeout - but crucially didn't stop Chandler from advancing, nor from throwing the ensuing punch which quite literally spun a defenseless Gaethje around.

A visibly furious Gaethje spurned Chandler's apology in the cage and has since commented saying that the unseen blow could have knocked him out and cost him the eventual victory, as well as a sizeable payday.

"I just think that, pretty much every ref that I step out there with has a look in their eyes, and it's a look like they're shook, like they're intimidated by what just occurred," Gaethje said on the Anik & Florian podcast, as reported by MMA Fighting.

"I understand that, but this is real life. I need them to be in game mode. We're not dealing with seconds anymore. This is way less than seconds. 

Read more
Justin Gaethje (left) and Michael Chandler contested an epic UFC fight © Ed Mulholland / USA Today Sports via Reuters
‘This is a classic’: Fans hail epic scrap as Gaethje returns from Nurmagomedov defeat by edging out bloodied Chandler at UFC 268

"If you're going to break action, you've got to put your body in there. If you're going to get hit, that needs to be OK.

"That was a big punch," added Gaethje. "What if that would have knocked me out? Those can change the whole direction of a fight. It's just crazy to me that it wasn't a big issue, because for me it was a huge issue. That's $1million, if I lose, that's so much money off of my table."

It is difficult to disagree with Gaethje's narrative. The win against Chandler almost certainly earned the American what will be his second UFC world title opportunity and came a year or so removed from his first, when he was stopped by Khabib Nurmagomedov in what proved to be the Russian great's final fight in the cage.

He is now ideally positioned to fight the winner of the forthcoming title fight between champ Charles Oliveira and Dustin Poirier - an opportunity to pad his bank balance and add a gold belt to his trophy cabinet.

"I just can't understand how it happened, why it happened, or what the f*ck happened," said Gaethje, who added that he had words with Beltran backstage and that the referee defended his actions.

"This is why I'm more upset about it is because he tried to justify it. If you would have just accepted that, he f*cked up, then at least I have a picture of why it happened and how it will never happened again. We need to learn from that."

Post a Comment