This weekend, in the main event of UFC Vancouver, Justin Gaethje will step into the Octagon with a fellow fan-favorite in Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. If Gaethje is able to defeat Cerrone, who he considers a friend, he believes he’ll be right near the summit of the lightweight mountain, and will only accept a few fights thereafter.
One, he says, is a fight against the winner of an expected but yet unscheduled title fight between divisional champ Khabib Nurmagomedov and top contender Tony Ferguson. The other is a fight with a man he’s become increasingly hostile toward; former two-division champion Conor McGregor.
“I think there’s two options for me — whoever wins [Khabib Nurmagomedov] against Tony or I fight Conor [McGregor],” Gaethje told MMA Fighting ahead of his UFC Vancouver gunfight with Cowboy. “Those are the two options I’ll be looking at when I’m done.”
McGregor, interestingly, recently divulged that he was briefly considering accepting a fight with Gaethje, though it never came to fruition. Gaethje claims he heard nothing of this potential bout, and isn’t sure he believes it was ever truly on the table.
“I have no idea how close it was [to being made],” Gaethje said. “I’m sure the UFC was really hounding him to fight. He probably said he was going to fight. He probably said he would fight me and then he probably broke his hand before I found out is what I’m guessing or it’s just not true.”
Whatever the case, Gaethje still seems plenty willing to step into the cage with the Irish star. It’s all about proving himself as the best lightweight on earth.
“I’m trying to be the best in the world. He’s in the way,” Gaethje said of McGregor.
“You have to be a fool to say I’m not one of the best in the world,” he added, looking back on the lone losses of his career. “I fought Dustin Poirier, he was fighting for the world title. Eddie Alvarez is world class and I fought stupid fights against them. I didn’t fight my best fight. I’m right here. I’m not going anywhere for a couple of years.”
Who do you want to see Justin Gaethje fight next if he’s victorious against Cowboy?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 9/11/2019.