UFC: Gaethje Dismisses McGregor Money Fight In Favour Of Khabib
Justin Gaethje won the UFC interim lightweight title earlier this month at UFC 249 by ending Tony Ferguson’s twelve-fight winning streak, with a fifth round TKO. Since then, there has been speculation that he could face Conor McGregor instead of waiting for Khabib Nurmagomedov to return for their unification bout. However, both ‘The Highlight’ and his manager Ali Abdelaziz have denied this.
Talking on The Joe Rogan Experience (transcript by MMA Junkie), Gaethje asserted his wish to fight the dominant UFC lightweight champion Khabib in order to unify the titles, and stated he wouldn’t take on McGregor now, no matter what people might say.
“I could fight him right now if I wanted to. Everyone is going to say that I’m lying and that I would take [the fight with McGregor]. Daniel Cormier said that the other day, [but] I’m not that fighter.
“For one, I have the opportunity to do something that can be unmatched in the history of our sport. To go in there coming off the circumstances to beat Tony like I did, go beat Khabib, go beat Conor, that’s legendary,” Gaethje explained.
Gaethje appreciates his current position, which gives him a certain amount of autonomy to decide what is his next move going to be. That is something the 31-year-old didn’t have before he captured the interim belt, as there were no guarantees that McGregor wouldn’t get a rematch with the champion.
“I’m in a great position because, for one, I get to fight for a title. There’s 500 people on this roster and every single one of them would love to be in this position right now,” Gaethje said. “But I also have the ability to bring some kind of rhyme or reason, a way to a title shot for young guys that come in and think politics run the show. They ultimately do, but there’s one small chance you get a say in your destiny and eliminate politics and that’s what I just did.
“Politics were going to f*** me. I wasn’t going to get the fight, Conor was going to somehow, some way get that fight, but now I get a chance to go out there and I do what I did.”
Gaethje is well aware that taking a fight against McGregor would be quite lucrative at this moment, but he is thinking two steps ahead.
“Business-wise, the smart move would be [to] fight Conor right now because that’s obviously a lot of money. But I make more money when I beat Khabib, and then fight [McGregor],” Gaethje said. “And if Conor is not there, I’ll fight Poirier. He’s not on my list, Conor. Khabib and Poirier are the two on my list right now. If I fight both and make good pay days, then I’m good.”
Do you think Justin Gaethje will hold off the temptation of the money fight with Conor McGregor, to wait for his unification bout with Khabib Nurmagomedov?