Justin Gaethje was looking for a fight recently, but the would-be opponent might surprise you.
Gaethje has been on the outside on the lightweight title picture looking in for the better part of a year. He last fought back in October of 2020 when he received his first UFC title shot. Unfortunately, that loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov put Gaethje out of the title picture for quite some time afterward. Being cast aside was not something Gaethje had anticipated; and because of this, he has had to search for his next opponent in creative ways.
When Nurmagomedov decided to retire, the UFC didn’t get around to finding a new champ right away. Perhaps if they did, Gaethje would have been at the top of the list. However, with time passing, new contenders showed that they had what it takes to fight for the belt and Michael Chandler vs. Charles Oliveira was put in motion. Gaethje felt cast aside and decided to wait it out.
He has now been inactive for just about a year. In that time, Gaethje and his team did look for a “fun fight.” According to Gaethje, he wanted to try his hand at former featherweight champ, Max Holloway.
“Max is probably my favorite fighter to watch so I honestly don’t want to fight the guy ever,” Gaethje told ESPN. “But I need to put myself in the title picture and if he jumps weight classes, I wasn’t sure if with Brian Ortega vs. [Alexander] Volkanovski being tied up with The Ultimate Fighter, I thought maybe he might want to come up to lightweight and try his hand, with Khabib being gone, at the lightweight title. That was an option at the time but didn’t work out.”
With champion Oliveira heading towards a clash with Dustin Poirier, Justin Gaethje will try to put himself back in line with a win over Micheal Chandler at UFC 268 in New York City. As for Holloway, he was scheduled to face Yair Rodriguez in July; but due to injury, that fight will be pushed back until November. However, that doesn’t mean these two will never meet, just not now.