With reports of a lightweight title fight between Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov being booked for April 2020 and other lightweight fights being announced recently, top contender Justin Gaethje is without a scheduled fight, and he seems to be okay with that.
Business has picked up in a major way in the UFC’s lightweight division with the recent bookings of Conor McGregor vs Donald Cerrone (scheduled to take place at welterweight) and Paul Felder vs Dan Hooker, both fights scheduled to take place in early 2020, but these fights also leave contenders like Gaethje waiting in the wings. While his former opponent Dustin Poirier believes Gaethje is the biggest threat to current champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, Gaethje recently discussed his place within the division.
Making an appearance on The Luke Thomas Show on Sirius XM’s Fight Nation, Gaethje said his place is being the guy waiting for the lightweight title shot while others fight for their spot within the division.
🔊 @Justin_Gaethje discusses where he fits into the UFC lightweight landscape and his conditions for being a backup for Khabib vs Ferguson 👊🦅😎 #TLTS@lthomasnews
— MMA on SiriusXM (@MMAonSiriusXM) December 3, 2019
“I’m the guy waiting for the title shot, I got the winner of the fight in April as far as I’m concerned. Three knockouts in a row, I’m not sure what else I need to do. If there’s someone else in the way then I would happily go through them but I don’t think there is. The winner of that [Khabib vs Tony] is looking like the most likely, I’m planning on trying to maybe push myself to be ready for around that date [in April] just in case something happens but it’s super hard for me to get up for a training camp, get up for a fight when I actually don’t have an opponent.
Acknowledging that waiting for the winner of the scheduled title fight in April would leave him on the sidelines until possibly the second or third quarter of the UFC’s 2020 schedule, Gaethje said he’s looking to make smart business decisions and he got into the sport to become champion, so he’s willing to wait.
“Ultimately I got into this for one reason, that’s to fight for a world championship, if that’s at the end of the road then absolutely. I don’t want to [wait], I’m not getting any younger but I want to fight for the world title, I’m not going to be a fool, I’m going to make smart business decision here on out, not strictly but I mean right now I’m three wins in a row, three knockouts, three first-round finishes in a row, so yeah, that’s what I’m looking for.”
While Gaethje is prepared to play the waiting game and await the title fight scheduled for April 2020, he told Luke Thomas that he’s willing to be a standby substitute for the title fight, if the UFC is willing to pay up and cover the cost of his training camp.
“I mean if they cover the cost of the training camp then I’m in. I need to get paid again anyways, so it couldn’t hurt. You know what it is, financially it’s commitment, train for a fight, especially a fight like that. I wouldn’t be against it, ultimately I want to fight Khabib, I have to fight Khabib, if that’s ultimately how it goes down then I will only be mad at myself if I’m not ready for it.”
The UFC’s lightweight division has picked up activity rapidly, even with two of their fighters scheduled to fight at welterweight, and from the sound of things, Justin Gaethje is more than willing to wait his turn and let the title picture play out and take a fight against the winner if it is offered.
Do you think Justin Gaethje should await the winner of Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Tony Ferguson?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 12/2/2019