Nobody could say McGregor didn’t earn Khabib vs. Ferguson winner ‘if he fights me and beats me,’ says Gaethje

For a fighter like Justin Gaethje, there are probably few better times to look at the big picture in MMA. The top-ranked lightweight could…

By: Zane Simon | 3 years ago
Nobody could say McGregor didn’t earn Khabib vs. Ferguson winner ‘if he fights me and beats me,’ says Gaethje
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For a fighter like Justin Gaethje, there are probably few better times to look at the big picture in MMA. The top-ranked lightweight could be on the cusp of UFC title contention, but with potential future events up in the air due to the coronavirus pandemic – and title shot opportunities few and far between – he knows that waiting around to be handed a championship bout likely won’t get the job done. Especially not with the specter of former double-champ Conor McGregor hanging over the lightweight division.

McGregor recently returned from an extended hiatus (one marked by multiple legal issues) to defeat Donald Cerrone in the main event of UFC 246. In the buildup and aftermath of the bout, UFC president Dana White made it clear that McGregor’s victory over ‘Cowboy’ would put him next in line for a shot at the winner of Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson. However, that’s not a plan that’s seemed to interest the Dagestani champ much, if he were to keep his belt. And it’s certainly not a plan that interests the ‘Highlight.’

“I think me and Conor need to fight each other to figure out the No. 1 contender,” Gaethje told MMA Fighting in a recent interview. “Outside of that, if I need to fight someone else to assure myself of the No. 1 contender’s spot and get the winner of that fight, I’ll do that. As long as that’s a sure thing.”

“You know it’s his choice,” Gaethje added. “[Conor McGregor] picks who he fights.

“He knows that if he fights me and beats me, nobody — Khabib [Nurmagomedov], Ali [Abdelaziz], whoever — can’t say much about him earning it or deserving the title shot. But until then, he ain’t going to get it.”

The Trevor Wittman-trained fighter added that he feels chances are “pretty good” that the fight gets made. Especially after a recent interview with McGregor’s boxing coach, Owen Roddy, who said that a bout between the two men sometime in July would “bring the UFC back to life.”

Obviously, that’s no guarantee. But, if the two sides can come together, the lightweight division could have one hell of a scrap on its hands when the UFC likely returns to action in the coming months.

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About the author
Zane Simon
Zane Simon

Zane Simon is a senior editor, writer, and podcaster for Bloody Elbow. He has worked with the website since 2013, taking on a wide variety of roles. A lifelong combat sports fan, Zane has trained off & on in both boxing and Muay Thai. He currently hosts the long-running MMA Vivisection podcast, which he took over from Nate Wilcox & Dallas Winston in 2015, as well as the 6th Round podcast, started in 2014. Zane is also responsible for developing and maintaining the ‘List of current UFC fighters’ on Bloody Elbow, a resource he originally developed for Wikipedia in 2010.

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