Justin Gaethje wasn’t pleased with Mike Beltran’s referring at UFC 268.
Beltran was the ref for Gaethje vs. Michael Chandler and after Chandler’s eye poke on Gaethje, Beltran did not step in right away which led to “Iron” landing a big shot on the former interim lightweight champion. For “The Highlight” he was frustrated with that as he says Beltran made a massive mistake not stepping in right away.
Had the punch KO’d Gaethje, he says Beltran would’ve cost him $1 million which is frustrating for him.
“I hate to critique the guy – he’s human, and we make mistakes,” Gaethje said on the Anik and Florian podcast (via MMAFighting). “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. 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,” Gaethje continued. “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.”
Once Beltran did step in, he didn’t even give Gaethje any time to recover which got him angry.
“So in my mind, I think he’s referencing the punch that just occurred,” Gaethje said. “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.’ 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.”
In the end, the punch didn’t have a big impact on the fight as Justin Gaethje defeated Michael Chandler by decision.