Gaethje recently returned to action after over a year away. After failing to become the first blemish on Khabib Nurmagomedov‘s record at UFC 254 last October, “The Highlight” found himself on the sidelines without an opponent and without a place in the vacant title fight at UFC 262.
The former interim champion finally secured Michael Chandler as his next foe. The pair collided in the UFC 268 main card opener earlier this month. The fight was expected to be a war and most predicted it would win the Fight of the Night honors at the Madison Square Garden-held event.
While that proved correct, not many would have expected the barnburner Gaethje and Chandler put on. After three rounds of back-and-forth action, it was the 33-year-old who had his hand raised via unanimous decision.
Gaethje Recognizes A Pattern
In the aftermath of his second consecutive defeat, Michael Chandler found himself interacting with MMA’s biggest superstar Conor McGregor. In a Twitter exchange, both men appeared to signal their interest in a 2022 booking. After “Iron” posted an image to Twitter that hinted at his future plans, McGregor responded respectfully. The Irishman said he’d “be down at some stage,” before congratulating the former Bellator champion on his performance at UFC 268.
After seeing his former opponent discuss a clash with McGregor, Justin Gaethje has cited the interaction as the latest example of the former 155-pound king following in his Octagon footsteps.
During a recent interview with TMZ Sports, “The Highlight” grouped McGregor’s willingness to face Chandler with his 2020 fight against Donald Cerrone and his talks about a clash with Tony Ferguson, suggesting the Dubliner is chasing his “sloppy seconds.”
“I don’t ever want to talk like this ’cause I hate to do it. [Donald Cerrone] is someone that I want to hang around with the rest of my life. I don’t want to disrespect him in any way. Chandler doesn’t deserve it. Ferguson doesn’t deserve it. But to me, it feels like we’re in grade school and Conor McGregor’s following me around trying to pick up all my sloppy seconds. Like, is that not what’s happening?
“And I find it so hilarious. I need that guy who makes the cartoons to make a cartoon with that. But god, I hate to say it because, again, it’s disrespectful to the opponents that I beat. But I fought Cowboy, then he wants to fight Cowboy. I just beat up Chandler, now he wants to fight Chandler. He will never say my name. And Ferguson’s on the list now, too. So I just find that comical.”
McGregor is currently recovering from the broken leg he suffered in his most recent UFC outing against Dustin Poirier in July. In the final seconds of the opening round, the Irishman suffered a gruesome broken leg, ruling him out until 2022.
While the leading options for his comeback appear to be a fourth bout with “The Diamond” or a trilogy fight against Nate Diaz, Chandler and featherweight Max Holloway have certainly entered the pool in recent weeks.
Who would you like to see Conor McGregor face when he returns to the Octagon?