Justin Gaethje isn’t thrilled being the odd man out of the fascinating UFC lightweight title picture.
“The Highlight” hasn’t competed since losing to Khabib Nurmagomedov in the 155-pound championship unification bout at UFC 254 in October. After the second-round submission win, Nurmagomedov announced his retirement, and after months of attempts from UFC president Dana White to get him to return, the 29-0 fighter shut the door once and for all earlier this month.
With that, the main event at UFC 262 will crown a new champion when Charles Oliveira and Michael Chandler square off in May. The Houston PPV event will also feature a lightweight matchup between Tony Ferguson and Beneil Dariush.
The looming question on people’s minds: where does Gaethje fit into this equation?
“Who knows, man,” Gaethje told Full Reptile. “I can’t talk about it a lot right now—I’m sure me talking about it [in the past] is the reason I’m here. Who knows? Maybe I pissed someone off. I don’t know.
“All I know is since I was 12, 13 years old, I listened to Dana White do interviews and explain what he wanted in a fighter, and I’m that motherf*cker.”
Gaethje, a former UFC interim and WSOF champion, has publicly expressed frustrations with White’s handling of the lightweight title picture, most notably the push that Chandler has received since coming into the promotion from Bellator.
The Elevation Fight Team standout wants nothing more but to get back in the octagon, but he doesn’t seem like he’s going to settle for less than he feels he deserves.
“If I get disrespected, it’s gonna be hurtful because I really bought into what [Dana] talks about. So it’ll hurt, because I feel like a company man from day one. I don’t ever want to go anywhere else, I don’t want to fight anywhere else. But my principles are the most important thing to me. We’ll see what happens.”