If Justin Gaethje is to forego what he feels is rightful place as the #1 contender for the Khabib/Ferguson winner, it had better be in a guaranteed #1-contender fight and preferably taking place at UFC 249 in Brooklyn, New York.
A winner of three straight fights, each by first-round knockout, Justin Gaethje is a man on fire, and he knows it. Because of the heat he has generated from his recent performances, he also has a belief that a title shot should come next for him. But before that can happen, Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson must finally enter the Octagon opposite one another, and Gaethje is one of the millions of people who want to see this fight (Transcript via MMA Junkie):
“I really, really want that fight to happen,” Gaethje said in an appearance on “MMA Tonight” on SiriusXM. “I don’t want to wish anything (bad), you know, but that’s a good date to shoot for, for me to be ready because, as we know, that fight tends to have problems sometimes.”
Even though Justin Gaethje is staying ready, he has decided not to train specifically for any opponent, given that there is no telling which of the two could pull out, if either of them:
“I wouldn’t say yes or no to that question because I can’t ever train for something of that magnitude without having that there,” Gaethje said when asked if he was preparing specifically to fight Khabib. “But I’m also always training for that goal, which is the world championship. So I’m not waking up with the mentality that I’m fighting Khabib right now or anybody which is different than the goal I’ve had my whole life, which is just to become the best in the world.”
And since he’s currently training full time anyway in preparation for the date of April 18, he might as well be open to taking another fight on that same card, which is exactly what Gaethje is willing to do if offered:
“I’ll fight a title contender fight, a 100 percent title contender fight, against anybody or April 18, co-main event and then fight for the title against whoever wins that night for the title,” Gaethje said. “If it’s Tony, hopefully sooner than September, and if it’s Khabib, then I’ll wait for Ramadan to pass and then wait for him to train then be ready to go in September.”
One person who would be willing to fight Gaethje on this card is Dustin Poirier, who holds a victory over Justin Gaethje in what was Gaethje’s most recent loss. Perhaps getting that loss back to solidify himself as the #1 contender would be a poetic and appropriate way for Gaethje to earn his title shot.
Whom do you think Justin Gaethje should fight next if it is not a world title fight?