Gaethje slams ref mistake 'that could have cost him $1MILLION'

Justin Gaethje slams referee Mike Beltran for mistake that ‘could have cost him $1MILLION’ in brutal win over Michael Chandler at UFC 268

  • Justin Gaethje defeated Michael Chandler after relentless three-round fight 
  • But he believes there was a moment he could have lost it all due to the referee 
  • Gaethje felt he was eye-poked but Mike Beltran did not intervene quickly enough
  • Chandler landed a massive punch when the referee hesitated to step in  

Justin Gaethje has taken aim at referee Mike Beltran for a mistake he believes could have cost him $1million from his win against Michael Chandler. 

Gaethje took home the handsome paycheck after a brutal night’s work at UFC 268 on Saturday night having gone three rounds with his lightweight compatriot. 

He feels there was a moment in the contest that could have swung momentum in the other direction, through no fault of his own.   

Justin Gaethje (left) called out referee Mike Beltran (right) for his handling of an incident 

Gaethje suffered an eye poke in the second round but the referee was slow to intervene

Gaethje suffered an accidental eye-poke from Chandler in the second round and indicated the foul to the referee. 

Beltran hesitated and that hesitation allowed Chandler to land a huge punch, that could have knocked his opponent out or changed the course of the contest. 

‘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,’ he said on the Anik and Florian podcast. 

‘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. 

‘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,’ he reflected. ‘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 $1 million, if I lose, that’s so much money off of my table.’

When Beltran did eventually react and stop the flow of the fight to check on Gaethje, there was further confusion. 

The referee asked if Gaethje was alright. He explained: ‘So in my mind, I think he’s referencing the punch that just occurred.

‘And so, I’m like, yeah, I’m good, because as a fighter, you never say you’re not good to continue. So then he was like, “OK, fight”. I was like, “No, I need my time. He poked me in the eye.” 

Gaethje came through to win but was left thinking he could have lost his pay for the night 

‘And he looks directly at me and he says, “You said you’re good, fight.” And he never looked at my eye. He didn’t even take one second to see if I was affected.’

‘I just can’t understand how it happened, why it happened, or what the f*** happened.’

Beltran addressed the issue with Gaethje backstage after the fight and maintained his stance that he made the right call. 

Gaethje lamented: ‘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****** 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.’

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