Gaethje hasn’t been in action since UFC 254 last October. Having won the interim belt with a victory over Tony Ferguson five months prior, “The Highlight” looked to successfully unify the belts against the great Khabib Nurmagomedov in Abu Dhabi. Despite a strong opening round, Gaethje was put to sleep by Khabib by way of a triangle choke in the second frame.
Now over a year later, Gaethje is set to square off with #5-ranked Chandler, who has debuted in the promotion and fought for the title in the period since the 32-year-old last made the walk to the Octagon. In a blockbuster main card opener, the pair will both be looking to secure title shots inside Madison Square Garden.
Gaethje Won’t Be Snubbed For Another Title Fight
Gaethje hasn’t shied away from making his feelings known on the UFC’s decision not to include him in the vacant title fight following Khabib’s retirement. While Dustin Poirier pursued a money trilogy clash with Conor McGregor, promotional veteran Charles Oliveira faced Chandler for 155-pound gold at UFC 262 in May. The decision came despite the fact Gaethje had held the interim belt prior to his loss to “The Eagle.”
With his frustration still clear, Gaethje insists a victory over “Iron” this Saturday will secure him another championship opportunity. During an interview with ESPN MMA’s Marc Raimondi, “The Highlight” revealed what will happen if he’s not given a date with the champ.
“Absolutely it does (get me a title shot). If not, we riot… If I win Saturday and I don’t get a shot, I riot. Like, there’s no way I can let that happen and go away quiet… I know a lot of people just call me a little bitch for whining but I don’t know. I guess I just sit back, let my manager do what he’s supposed to do and make the right thing happen. It kind of threw things into the loop when Khabib retired. I waited for someone to fight, there was no fights available up until this point, and this is the perfect fight to get me right in that picture.”
It appears that should Gaethje be victorious on November 6, the other man in the title conversation will be Islam Makhachev. The Dagestani, who’s a close friend and teammate of Gaethje’s former foe Khabib, moved further into the lightweight top five with a dominant submission victory over Dan Hooker at UFC 267 last weekend. Despite the 30-year-old’s win streak and latest triumph, Gaethje doesn’t believe a win against “The Hangman” is enough to see Makhachev fight for gold.
“He’s lost four out of his last five I believe, Hooker. It was a late replacement fight. It’s not like he trained for that fight. He (Makhachev) still has not fought a top-calibre fighter in the UFC. That’s my mindset.”
Do you think a victory over Michael Chandler at UFC 268 will secure Justin Gaethje a title shot?