Late Thursday night the UFC announced some big changes in the lightweight division. Firstly, Dana White announced that champion Khabib Nurmagomedov would not be returning following his retirement. This announcement was bound to happen since Numragomedov had been very vocal about his desire to enjoy some time away from the sport. The next announcement was that Michael Chandler and Charles Oliveria would be the ones stepping into the title bout. The top of the lightweight division is stacked, and any fighter from the top five could have been chosen to fight for the title. One man who thought it would have been him was Justin Gaethje.
“I woke up yesterday to train for a matchup with Chandler on May 15th expecting a bout agreement any moment,” Gaethje wrote on Twitter Friday evening. “Today that is not the case, I don’t know what I do yet but I like this feeling. It was a good day at sparring practice.”
Gaethje is the last man to face former champion Nurmagomedov. Despite losing to him via second-round submission, Gaethje is still ranked second in the division. The only man ahead of him is Dustin Poirier, who has chosen to rematch Conor McGregor later this year over a title shot. It is clear why Gaethje had expected the title shot to come considering his body of work since joining the UFC back in 2017.
Despite Gaethje having to wait, the two title contenders have put in the work. The two men chosen are no slouches, Chandler had a very impressive win in his UFC debut over Dan Hooker. He came into the UFC seemingly ready to have this title shot. He is a veteran of the sport and dominated in Bellator before getting signed by the UFC. Oliveria has won eight in a row over some of the toughest in the division.
With Poirier and McGregor facing off this summer, the winner of that fight might be the next for a title shot, which means Gaethje will have to wait for his turn. He may need to stay active and face another opponent from the top five of the lightweight division in the meantime.
Do you think Justin Gaethje should be fighting Michael Chandler for the title?