Gaethje has been out of action since his second failed bid at claiming undisputed championship status. While his first shot ended unsuccessfully courtesy of another dominant Khabib Nurmagomedov display at UFC 254 in 2020, “The Highlight” fell victim to Charles Oliveira’s career resurgence this year.
At UFC 274 in May, the pair collided in the main event. While the title was up for grabs for Gaethje, a weight miss meant Oliveira was ineligible to leave the Octagon with the gold. With that, the title remained vacant after “Do Bronx” submitted the Arizona native inside one round.
Following the setback, Gaethje underwent the knife to repair a long-standing health issue in his nose. Having recovered, the former WSFOF titleholder is beginning to look ahead to his return to MMA action.
Gaethje Open To Trip Across The Pond
During a recent interview with MMA Fighting’s Mike Heck, Gaethje provided an update on his comeback having began to re-integrate himself back into a consistent training routine.
“I told them next year. I’m starting to work out now. I’m back in a regular routine,” Gaethje said. “But yeah, one thing we have over other sports is the body is resilient, but you have to give it time. I got hit really hard, had a hard camp, and yeah, wanted to take a break. It was nice that I got to get my nose fixed.”
In terms of possible opponents, Gaethje noted that a couple of elite lightweights will be in need of a rival following the conclusion of two pivotal matchups in the division set for the coming weeks — Oliveira vs. Islam Makhachev at UFC 280 and Dustin Poirier vs. Michael Chandler at UFC 281.
“The Highlight” also expressed a willingness to cross the pond alongside teammate Kamaru Usman, who appears likely to get his shot for redemption against Leon Edwards in England’s capital.
“They got a fight for the title, someone’s gotta fight the loser. Chandler and Poirier are gonna fight, someone’s gotta fight the winner,” Gaethje noted. “So yeah, I’ll be ready next year. Ideally, I mean, January, February, March; whatever they wanna do. I’m not sure when Kamaru’s going to London, but I wouldn’t mind fighting in London.”
Perhaps most notable of Gaethje’s named options is a rematch with Chandler. The pair engaged in a memorable three-round war at UFC 268 that was branded by many as 2021’s Fight of the Year.
Whilst Chandler has previously expressed his desire to run it back with “The Highlight,” he’s hoping to secure his place opposite the champion with a victory over “The Diamond” at Madison Square Garden next month.
Who would you like to see Justin Gaethje share the Octagon with for his return?
This story originally appeared on MMANews.com. Please provide transcription credit with a link to this article if you use any of these quotes.