Justin Gaethje wasn’t a fan of the Charles Oliveira and Michael Chandler fighting for the vacant lightweight title.
When Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov were lightweight champions, the division was never hotter as it was considered the best division in the UFC. However, when Nurmagomedov announced his retirement and vacated his belt, the promotion booked Oliveira vs. Chandler, which Gaethje thinks was a big mistake.
“I was pissed off at the time,” Gaethje said to ESPN. “I thought this was the most coveted title in the UFC when Khabib was around, and it turned into almost the laughingstock of the UFC overnight. When you have Charles Oliveira and Michael Chandler fighting each other for the title, to be the best, those two weren’t best. It was me and [Dustin] Poirier. That should have happened.”
Of course, Poirier would’ve been fighting Oliveira for the vacant belt but he decided to take the trilogy with McGregor. Gaethje, meanwhile, was coming off a title fight loss, so the promotion didn’t want to book him in another title fight right away. However, Gaethje does have a point that neither Oliveira nor Chandler are big names in the sport that McGregor and Nurmagomedov were.
In the title fight, Oliveira ended up TKO’ing Chandler in the second round to win the vacant title back in May. His next title defense has not been booked but will likely be against Poirier. As for Justin Gaethje, he will actually face Chandler at UFC 268 in November. It will be his first bout since he suffered a submission loss to Nurmagomedov for the belt. Prior to that, he claimed the interim title with a TKO win over Tony Ferguson and also holds wins over Donald Cerrone, Edson Barboza, and Michael Johnson.
Do you agree with Justin Gaethje that the lightweight division became ‘the laughing stock of the UFC’ after Oliveira and Chandler fought for the belt?