This weekend at UFC 246, Conor McGregor came back to the UFC after a 15-month layoff and impressed, knocking out Donald Cerrone in just 40 seconds. In the aftermath of the event, McGregor is now flush with possible opponents. UFC President Dana White is adamant McGregor needs to rematch Khabib Nurmagomedov next, BMF champion Jorge Masvidal was sitting cageside for the event in his best McGregor garb trying to goad the former champ-champ, and even Floyd Mayweather Jr. got in on the action, teasing a boxing rematch between the two.
But there’s one man who has been overlooked in this conversation, the man who would make the most sense for McGregor from a sporting respect, and that man happens to believe that after Saturday night, he has a better shot of getting a fight with “Notorious”.
Speaking with the Punchlines Podcast recently, fourth-ranked lightweight contender Justin Gaethje suggested that now that McGregor got a win, and did so in emphatic fashion, he’ll be more willing to accept a fight with him.
“Ultimately that dude makes his own decisions, and I think he has more confidence now,” Gaethje said. “He needed a win. So yeah, I think he’ll fight me now.”
Heading into UFC 246, Gaethje was less than pleased with how things were shaking out in the lightweight division, particularly with McGregor basically being guaranteed a title shot despite facing a man who had been knocked out in his previous two fights, and especially as Gaethje himself knocked out Cerrone in Cowboy’s last fight before UFC 246. That being said, Gaethje also understands the business end of things and even though he’d be less than enthused with McGregor getting a title shot off of just one win, “The Highlight” also recognizes that his case for a title shot isn’t bulletproof given that he has only won three fights in a row.
“I’m not necessarily being overlooked,” Gaethje said. “I’m in the conversation. I lost two times not that long ago, and unfortunately that set me back and that allows these people to have an argument or a case when it comes to the argument or it comes to this circumstance. . . So it does suck to compete as hard as I do and to put as much as I do into it and to maybe have the situation come along where I do get passed over because of money or politics. But at the end of the day if you do keep winning, I’m gonna fight again and if I win, if I knock somebody out again, they can’t deny me.”
Gaethje might be more right than even he knows. Speaking with ESPN’s Ariel Helwani on Monday, McGregor’s head coach John Kavanagh stated that he’d like to see McGregor next face “Justin Gaethje at 170. That would be my personal preference.”
Kavanagh’s wishes have been skipped over before, namely his desire for a trilogy fight with Nate Diaz, but it’s certainly a strong sign for Gaethje that one of the most influential figures in McGregor’s camp would like to see that fight. That being said, Gaethje is also aware that when Conor McGregor is involved, there’s more to matchmaking than just being an elite fighter, you have to have some added draw. Masvidal is a star and went to UFC 246 to sell the fight, Khabib and McGregor have one of the most bitter rivalries in the sport’s history, and even someone like Kamaru Usman has a belt for McGregor to covet. In then end, without something like than and by choosing not to sit cageside at UFC 246 and try to stir up trouble, Gaethje admits he may have cost himself.
“To be a superstar you have to win and you have to have something special,” Gaethje said. “For me, I hope that knocking people out is my something special because I can’t sell myself, per se, and become a different person on camera and a different person off camera...
“Ultimately, I think it could hurt me in the long run, just not wanting to take that route. I could have been there [at UFC 246]. I could have been front row. I could have made a scene, but I don’t know. And maybe I’ll miss an opportunity because I wasn’t there.”
Champion. Kamaru Usman ready to fight soon, targeting ‘journeyman’ Jorge Masvidal next.
Friends. Michael Bisping became a fan of Jorge Masvidal following heated rivalry.
Shoulders. Conor McGregor’s shoulder strike: A potential new trend, or an old classic briefly revamped?.
Suspensions. UFC 246 medical suspensions: Donald Cerrone faces six months for nose and orbital fractures.
UFC 246 Fight Motion.
UFC 247 Official Promo.
Top finishes from UFC Raleigh fighters.
Mixed Molly Whoppery on Conor being back.
Eurobash. Discussing UFC 246 with Jose Youngs and Philip O’Connor.
UFC Unfiltered. Interviews with Michael Bisping, Michael Chiesa, and Drew Dober.
SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE
#2 and #3?? Let's run it back https://t.co/XfGY5D9EHW— The Diamond (@DustinPoirier) January 21, 2020
Darren Till is great.
I ain’t afraid of no fucking man on this planet!!!— Darren Till (@darrentill2) January 21, 2020
Apart from Yoel, he scary.— Darren Till (@darrentill2) January 21, 2020
Rumble teasing a comeback?
UFC 248 at T-Mobile Arena https://t.co/oJSmmty6vf— Rumble Johnson (@Anthony_Rumble) January 21, 2020
Bud teasing a crossover.
@danawhite do I need to get my mma gloves ready?— Terence Crawford (@terencecrawford) January 21, 2020
January 22, 2020
David Branch is freakin’ HUGE.
I’m not mad, you’re mad.
We need a spin off of the old show bully beatdown to come back and call internet troll beatdown. Pull up on all internet trolls and make them answer to hiding behind a keyboard. pic.twitter.com/dEB74Huipk— Rashad Coulter UFC (@rashad_coulter) January 21, 2020
Thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow.
Will Conor and Justin ever fight?
This poll is closed
If you find something you’d like to see in the Morning Report, hit up @JedKMeshew on Twitter and let him know about it. Also follow MMAFighting on Instagram, add us on Snapchat at MMA-Fighting, and like us on Facebook.