Leading into his UFC 268 bout against Michael Chandler, lightweight contender Justin Gaethje threatened a “riot” if he were not awarded a title shot. Now that he has emerged victorious in what was a Fight of the Year candidate, his insistence of being next in line for the Charles Oliveira/Dustin Poirier winner has grown stronger.
“If you say ‘No disrespect to [Makhachev],’ you would have to understand how disrespectful you’d be being if you thought in any way that he deserves that,” Gaethje said in a Thursday interview with MMA Junkie. “He fought #14 (and) went to #5, and he fought a late-replacement Dan Hooker. There’s no world in which, in the integrity of this sport, he would deserve or justify him doing that.”
Khabib Describes A World Where Protégé Makhachev Deserves Shot Over Gaethje
During his casual Instagram scrolling, Khabib came across a post from ESPN MMA’s page that shared Gaethje’s title shot demand. Though Khabib can be reserved and a man of few words, he also can be unshackled in his honesty. The latter case could be found in his direct response to Gaethje.
“In last 8 fight, you got finished 3 times Justin,” Khabib wrote. “You had an opportunity to become champion, but you fell asleep 😴 Islam is on the 9 win streak, 3 fight in 2021 and all finishes. Just shut up and admit that Islam deserves this title shot, not you.”
Yikes. Clearly, both men have their feet dug in on this one, but ultimately, the only opinion that matters is that of the UFC brass. There’s no word yet from Dana White or the promotion on who will be next for the Poirier/Oliveira winner. Many people are calling for Makhachev (#4) to face #3-ranked contender Beneil Dariush next, with the winner receiving a shot after Justin Gaethje.
Another option may be for Gaethje and Makhachev to settle who should be next themselves in their own title eliminator. From the sounds of it, though, Gaethje is not open to any such suggestions, and it remains title shot or bust for him, regardless of what Khabib or anyone else has to say about it.
What would you do with the lightweight title picture right now?