Gaethje: Beating Diaz Is As Good As Beating Chandler Or McGregor
Justin Gaethje is itching to get back in the UFC lightweight title race, and is ready to fight anyone in the division to take a step closer to a second title shot.
In his most recent fight, Gaethje challenged reigning champion Khabib Nurmagomedov for the title at UFC 254 last October, but was submitted in the second round. The Russian announced his retirement immediately after improving to 29-0, and has stayed true to his word since then.
With emphatic performances in the main and co-main event at UFC 257, Dustin Poirier and Michael Chandler are the frontrunners to fight for the belt. Along with Charles Oliveira, who is coming off a dominant win over Tony Ferguson at UFC 256.
Speaking to MMA Junkie, Gaethje said that although he is looking to fight a top contender in the division, a win over Nate Diaz would be just as good as a win over Chandler or McGregor, because he’s among the biggest superstars in MMA.
“I mean, with the way this sport works, I’m no fool,” Gaethje said. “He’s [one of the] top three biggest superstars in the sport even though he hasn’t fought in a long time. And in the position I’m in, I need a win. It could be Nate Diaz, it could be Rafael dos Anjos, it could be Charles Oliveira, it could be Michael Chandler, it could be Conor McGregor. And when I attain that win, I will then get the title shot.
“A win against Nate Diaz is just as good a win, right now for me, as Michael Chandler, Conor McGregor.”
Nate Diaz Fight
Diaz has only fought twice since his loss to McGregor at UFC 202 in 2016, with his most recent fight being a loss to Jorge Masvidal at UFC 244. Although he’s currently unranked, Gaethje understands the business side of the sport and is open to a fight with the Stockton native.
“A win is a win. You know how this sport works. True is true,” Gaethje stated. “You’ve seen it countless times. It’s not necessarily the right thing, it’s the right business thing. I’ve got to keep putting myself in that position.”
While there was recently speculation that Gaethje versus Diaz was in the works, according to Nate’s latest tweet, he will now be returning at welterweight instead of lightweight, as he had previously stated.
Timeline For Fight
Gaethje doesn’t currently have a fight booked, but he’s ready to go as soon as the UFC offers him a deal.
“My body’s 99 percent. Never gonna be a hundred at 32 years old, but I feel great,” Gaethje said. “Mind is ready. I’m ready to get to work, put the work in. Ten to twelve weeks from whenever they call me with an opponent, that’s when I’m fighting.”
Who would you like to see Justin Gaethje to fight next, Nate Diaz, Conor McGregor, Michael Chandler, or someone else?