Justin Gaethje has said the only way Conor McGregor can prove he’s worthy of a Khabib Nurmagomedov rematch is to fight him.
The No. 4 ranked lightweight has been calling for a fight against “The Notorious” for some time. With the future of UFC events uncertain due to the coronavius, “The Highlight” is thinking strategically about his next opponent.
“I think I have to look at the big picture whenever I think about it,” Gaethje said to MMA Fighting. “I think me waiting to fight the winner of Khabib-Tony isn’t realistic. I think I will have to fight again.
“I think me and Conor need to fight each other to figure out the No. 1 contender. 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.”
Despite the ongoing pandemic, Dana White has assured that the lightweight champion, Nurmagomedov will still fight Tony Ferguson on April 18. Meanwhile, Justin Gaethje and Conor McGregor both share a first-round TKO victory against Donald Cerrone from their last fights. If McGregor wants a rematch against Khabib Nurmagomedov in the future, Justin Gaethje declared he needs to get past him first.
“You know it’s his choice,” Gaethje said. “[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 Highlight is riding a three-fight win-streak of first-round finishes, which puts him in prime position for a McGregor matchup. However, there are many uncertainties that could impact their potential showdown. The possibility of a trilogy bout for McGregor against Nate Diaz, the pursuit of the welterweight title for McGregor, or a Tony Ferguson victory against Khabib Nurmagomedov could majorly impact their future matchup.
“Now I’m in a great position to fight for a title and I have him saying he wants to jump ahead,” said Gaethje. “Now I want to fight him cause it’s the right time. It’s the right fight to make.”When it comes to McGregor and UFC matchmaking, there’s no way to predict how things will play out.
“I think the chances are pretty good. I think they’re really good.”
If the matchup doesn’t come to fruition, The Highlight is willing to play the long game and fight the undefeated lightweight champion.
“So much logistics when it comes to making a fight with that guy [McGregor],” Gaethje said. “It’s a process. If he doesn’t make a choice, I just wait and fight Khabib.”
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This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 3/24/2020.