Ali Abdelaziz insists there’s no truth to the report that Conor McGregor vs. Justin Gaethje is in preliminary talks.
ESPN’s Ariel Helwani reported that the UFC is in the very early stages of booking McGregor for a summer bout. Helwani noted that Gaethje and Nate Diaz are being considered with “The Highlight” pegged as the frontrunner. Helwani mentioned that plans can change.
Ali Abdelaziz Denies Ariel Helwani’s Report
Abdelaziz, who manages Gaethje and UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, took to his Twitter account to dismiss Helwani’s report.
“This rumor about @Justin_Gaethje fighting vs @TheNotoriousMMA is absolutely false. He had the opportunity to fight him already instead of cowboy but he didn’t. Justin is the number one contender and like khabib said. Conor needs to win 10 fights.”
Abdelaziz’s words don’t exactly align with those of UFC president Dana White. The UFC boss has said he wants to book McGregor against the winner of Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson. Despite the fact that Khabib has shown disinterest in a rematch with McGregor, money talks and White ultimately has the final say.
Gaethje has expressed interest in a bout with McGregor numerous times. Abdelaziz himself has even dared McGregor to take a fight with “The Highlight.” Now it appears the Dominance MMA head honcho is attempting to play hardball. Whether or not that pays off for Gaethje remains to be seen.
While he hasn’t been promised a title opportunity or at least a number one contender bout, Gaethje has made a strong case for himself. After being stopped by Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier, Gaethje has racked up three first-round finishes in a row. He’s stopped James Vick, Edson Barboza, and Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. A signature win over someone the caliber of McGregor would almost surely get Gaethje the title shot he’s been clamoring for.