Justin Gaethje is one of the top contenders in the lightweight division and is currently ranked at No. 5 in the divisional rankings. Whilst many other major fighters in the division have confirmed bouts over the next few months, the next opponent for Gaethje remains to be seen.
Gaethje partook in an interview with ESPN to share his thoughts on possible matchups. He believes he deserves to fight an opponent ranked above him and is open to a showdown with former two-division champion Conor McGregor.
“I’m ranked No. 5 right now,” he said. “There are four guys and the champion in front of me. I’m looking for one of those guys, and I’m looking for a big fight this summer. I don’t want to fight guys ranked behind me. I’ve got two knockouts in a row. James Vick was ranked behind me. I feel I deserve someone in front of me… Looking at the landscape, Conor McGregor is No. 3 right now. If it’s not him, there’s not an open fight right now. So, that’s the fight I want. He’s No. 3. If he’s not going to fight, take him out of the rankings. I’d be cool with that, too, and we can move on from there.”
Conor McGregor’s last fight was a submission defeat to lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov. Since McGregor announced his supposed retirement earlier this year, rumors of potential future fights against several fighters have been circulating.
A matchup between Conor McGregor and Justin Gaethje would surely satisfy fans and be an exciting fight. Gaethje commented:
“As far as I’m concerned, he’s in the rankings so he should be available,” he said. “I’m just sitting in my house in Colorado. I have no idea what the hell is going on with him. But he’s No. 3. He’s the only guy ranked ahead of me that doesn’t have a fight. He needs a fight to get back to the title shot.
“I don’t know what else to say about it. Unless he just does not want to fight me, if he wants to be that picky about it. I can’t control that. I’ll worry about things I can control. But I would definitely love to f*** him up. Every time I get a chance to f*** someone up who talks a lot of s****, it makes it more fun for me.”
Looking at the top-end of the lightweight division, Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone is confirmed for a bout against former interim champion Tony Ferguson at UFC 238. In addition, Nate Diaz is scheduled to fight Anthony Pettis at UFC 240 on Aug 17, and Dustin Poirier is anticipated to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 242 on September 7.
Justin Gaethje also shared his thoughts on thee matchups.
“I don’t give Poirier much of a shot,” he said. “Maybe a 16 percent shot. I think Khabib is going to take him down immediately, or create some kind of scramble immediately. I don’t think Poirier stops his takedowns.”
In terms of Diaz vs Pettis, Gaethje said:
“[I see] probably Pettis winning. It’s been a long time since Nate fought; that doesn’t help. Pettis has a lot of confidence right now off that last win [against Stephen Thompson]. He’s probably training hard every day now that he’s got this roll going.”
Justin Gaethje also sees Ferguson taking the victory over Cowboy’ Cerrone:
“Tony beats him up. Tony’s better. Tony is just better than Cowboy.”
Because of Gaethje’s aggressive fighting style and track record in the lightweight division, we can be sure his next fight will be a barnburner no matter which contender he’s matched up with.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 5/21/2019.