UFC newcomer and three-time Bellator lightweight champion, Michael Chandler, is making headlines for his statements about getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Chandler is coming off a loss to Charles Oliveira at UFC 262 for the vacant UFC Lightweight Championship and will be fighting Justin Gaethje at UFC 268 on November 6th. There are rumblings that the UFC is looking to hold this card in New York City at Madison Square Garden.
NYC has implemented strict vaccination mandates that require proof of vaccination for indoor dining, fitness and entertainment events. These mandates effect Chandler’s eligibility for this fight in NYC as he has already released a statement saying he will not be getting the vaccine by November 8.
He said the following on his Instagram live, “I just saw that New York is dropping some heavy mandates on the city of New York City…Basically, they’re requiring you to be vaccinated (and) show proof of vaccination for indoor dining, indoors 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.”
Chandler also explained his reasoning behind not wanting to get vaccinated at the current time, “It’s not that I’m anti-vax. 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 November 6, so I won’t be able to perform or entertain at Madison Square Garden. So we shall see.”
UFC president, Dana White, has already said he will not be forcing fighters to get vaccinated. This potential fight of the year could be postponed or held in another location if NYC mandates are not lifted and Chandler doesn’t change his mind on getting vaccinated.