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Morning Report: Dana White says Justin Gaethje has earned next lightweight title shot, Conor McGregor ‘chomping at the bit’ to return

Dana White
Dana White

Last month, Justin Gaethje put on a Fight of the Year contender, winning a grueling decision over Michael Chandler at UFC 268. Heading into the bout, Gaethje made no bones about his position: if he won, he would be fighting for the lightweight title next or there would be hell to pay. Well, it appears that Gaethje won’t have to riot at all, as UFC President Dana White has granted his wish. Justin Gaethje will be fighting the winner of next week’s lightweight title clash between Charles Oliveira and Dustin Poirier.

“Yup (he’s next),” White said on The Jim Rome Podcast. “As long as everybody’s healthy and everything’s good, it should be him. Coming off one of the greatest fights anybody’s ever seen in their life. I literally predicted the whole week that that would be the Fight of the Night and it ended up being the Fight of a Lifetime and one of the greatest fights anybody has ever seen.”

That’s obviously great for Gaethje but it’s less good news for two other lightweight contenders, Beneil Dariush and Islam Makhachev. Dariush and Makhachev, third and fourth respectively in the UFC lightweight rankings, are set to face each other in the main event of a Fight Night card on February 26 and the winner would ostensibly hope to be in line for a title shot next. However, with the timeline for a Gaethje title fight unclear, that leaves lots of opportunity for things to get messy, especially when the biggest star in the sport is set to return next year as well.

“He’s chomping at the bit to get back in there and compete again,” White said of Conor McGregor. “It’s going to be a while before he can put some torque on that leg. April, for him to start training again in April is probably about right.”

When last we saw McGregor, he was sitting on the canvas, yelling expletives at Dustin Poirier after shattering his leg in their trilogy fight. McGregor has been rehabbing the leg (among other things) since then, however, like Gaethje, the former featherweight and lightweight champion has made it clear that he intends to challenge for the UFC lightweight title when he returns. And while White admits he’s not sure what will be next for McGregor, the UFC President isn’t ready to count him out of anything.

“He obviously still has the desire to compete,” White said. “You don’t ever hear Conor going, ‘You know what, man? I just don’t have the desire for this anymore.’ You now what I mean? Yes, he’s obviously very rich, and he’s training like Rocky in ‘Rocky III,’ but he still has the desire to compete and the desire to fight, and we’ll see what happens.”


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Rankings. Kamaru Usman remains atop the MMA Fighting Global Pound-For-Pound Rankings.


VIDEO STEW

Between the Links.

The anniversary of arguably the most aesthetically pleasing KO in UFC history.

Top finishes from UFC Vegas 44 Fighters.

Clay Guida’s extensive bonus resume.

Bellator 272 Weigh-Ins.

Ahead of his fight this weekend, here is Jose Aldo proving that calf kicks aren’t real if you’re the GOAT.


LISTEN UP

We Got Next. Interviews with Brianna Van Buren, Chris Curtis, and Kenny Cross.


SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE

Fight promo.

Fighting words.

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An update from Diego Sanchez.

Derek Brunson.

Brian Kelleher.

Hot take.


FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Kris Moutinho (9-5) vs. Guido Cannetti (8-6); UFC Fight Night, March 12.


FINAL THOUGHTS

Thanks for reading, enjoy the fights, and see y’all next week.


EXIT POLL

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