Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Gaethje On McGregor Bout: ‘I Don’t Want To Face PED Users’

UFC lightweight contender Justin Gaethje has spoken about a long-awaited matchup with former two-division champion Conor McGregor.

McGregor, who has been on the sidelines for over a year recovering from the broken leg he suffered during his trilogy bout with Dustin Poirier at UFC 264, has appeared to significantly bulk up in recent times.

That’s come as the Irishman has consistently expressed his desire to fight at welterweight upon his return to action, a sentiment he reiterated this week during a Twitter Q&A.

But recent reports have led to speculation that his bulk may not have been entirely natural.

TSN MMA reporter Aaron Bronsteter recently investigated USADA testing in 2022, finding that McGregor is the sole fighter on the UFC roster — aside from new signings — who has not been tested by the anti-doping agency in 2022.

With that, many have concluded that McGregor has been using performance-enhancing drugs during his recovery and spell on the sidelines.

For Gaethje, fighting a PED user is a no go.

Gaethje: ‘Sounds Like McGregor Is Off Taking Steroids’

During a recent interview with MMA Fighting’s Mike Heck, Gaethje was asked about his often animosity-fueled relationship with McGregor. He’s often been linked with a scrap against the former lightweight king.

After noting that McGregor chose against facing him for his return in January 2020, “The Highlight” turned his attention to the current lay of the land, which has seen allegations of steroid usage on the Irishman’s part.

Gaethje insisted that he’s after clean and fair mixed martial arts, noting that he would never face anyone who uses banned substances.

He did, however, joke that he’d be more than willing to share the Octagon with a juiced McGregor should he be afforded the same allowances.

“I mean, who knows? If everyone would just remember correctly, I fought Cowboy, beat Cowboy, and then he fought Cowboy right after that. I was primed, ready to go,” Gaethje said. “It sounds to me like he’s off taking steroids right now. Hasn’t been drug tested by USADA in quite some time. I’m looking for fair competition.

“If he’s on steroids, then give me steroids, let’s go. Yeah, I’m down with that. But my health is my biggest factor. I have never taken a performance-enhancing drug, and I do not wanna fight people who are taking performance-enhancing drugs,” Gaethje added.

Gaethje, who held the interim title before running into Khabib Nurmagomedov in October 2020, also addressed the suggestion that the lack of testing comes as a result of McGregor’s injury layoff.

For “The Highlight,” broken leg or not, he’d never resort to steroids.

“I don’t even know how steroids work. I’m sure there’s windows and he can come back and be clean. But the fact he hasn’t been being drug tested tells me he’s been off taking steroids,” Gaethje noted. “Whether to heal his leg or not, if I break my leg, I’m not taking steroids… He had the chance to fight me. He didn’t fight me, he picked Cowboy.”

Gaethje is currently on the sidelines himself following his second failed title challenge. The 33-year-old Arizona native became the latest victim of Charles Oliveira’s resurgence this past May at UFC 274.

Having undergone surgery on his nose soon after to solve a long-standing health issue, Gaethje is looking to return to the Octagon next year. While his comeback may line up with McGregor’s, it appears that the Dublin native is still eyeing up the welterweight division.

With that, the #3-ranked lightweight will be keeping a close eye on some crucial lightweight matchups set to go down in the coming weeks. One may just sprout his next opponent.

Justin Gaethje
Image Credit: Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

This story originally appeared on MMANews.com. Please provide transcription credit with a link to this article if you use any of these quotes.