Conor McGregor could potentially be the man to end Justin Gaethje’s career without even fighting him.
Come July, it will have been two full years since McGregor last fought in the octagon. McGregor fell short in a second consecutive loss to Dustin Poirier via TKO in after breaking his leg at the end of Round 1. Now fully healed, “The Notorious” is anticipated to return in the latter half of 2023 despite having yet to re-enter the USADA testing pool.
McGregor’s comeback fight is expected to come against his rival coach Michael Chandler. The pair recently starred opposite one another as coaches on Season 31 of The Ultimate Fighter, which airs May 30 on ESPN. Gaethje shares that he was offered the opportunity to be a coach on the same season, but didn’t name who his opponent would have been. The fear going forward is that a single McGregor win will lead to a title shot, whether or not the Chandler bout takes place at lightweight or welterweight.
“Would I quit if Conor won and they gave him a title shot? Probably,” Gaethje told ESPN. “That’s how hurt I would be by the actions of the company I represent. But that’s out of my control. I just really hope that doesn’t happen.
“We can imagine a lot of things, but there’s a possibility that that’s the scenario, which I would be devastated, for sure.”
Always active, Gaethje’s fought three times since McGregor’s trilogy bout with Poirier. “The Highlight” is 2-1 in that stretch, defeating Chandler in a 2021 Fight of the Year before most recently taking home a unanimous decision nod against Rafael Fiziev at UFC 286 earlier this month.
Gaethje has always been open and interested in a McGregor matchup, but at this juncture, it isn’t looking likely to happen anytime soon. Instead, Gaethje targets a rematch with the man who handed him his second-ever MMA loss, Poirier. The thrilling lightweights first met in April 2018, resulting in an unforgettable war that saw Poirier score a fourth-round TKO.
“I think the obvious fight is Poirier,” Gaethje said of his next move. “Not sure when, but I think that’s obvious with [Charles] Oliveira fighting [Beneil] Dariush coming up. The winner fighting [Islam] Makhachev probably towards the end of the year. I think I’m either gonna fight Poirier or the loser of Oliveira-Dariush. I think those are the only two fights that are out there for me.
“I’m a much different, more mature fighter as is he (Poirier), but I think we’re two of the best in the world. Neither one of us have a fight lined up, so no-brainer. It leads to big title discussions. I gave the new guys a chance, they proved that they can’t crack it yet with the experienced [guys]. At the end of the day, it comes down to being able to fight a smart fight and not get tired.”
Nope. Sean O’Malley reveals he won’t serve as UFC 288 backup fighter: “If one of those dorks pull out, reschedule it.”
Moves. Anthony Pettis expects Roy Jones Jr. to be “surprised” by his boxing skill, will decide future after match.
Crossover. Carl Froch declares he’d face Conor McGregor “in the cage,” McGregor responds.
$$$. Markus Perez: Gamebred Boxing paying me “three times more” than UFC.
Prediction. Jorge Masvidal takes aim at Khamzat Chimaev, vows to “melt” Gilbert Burns: “He’s a front-runner.”
Review. Paddy Pimblett admits Jared Gordon fight “a lot closer than I thought,” but scoffs at alleged UFC favoritism.
The MMA Hour.
Early UFC 287 look.
10 days out.
Larkin’s crazy elbow KO.
DAMN! They Were Good. MMA Fighting’s Jed Meshew, Mike Heck, and Shaun Al-Shatti look back at the “Smooth” career of Benson Henderson.
SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE
The plot thickens.
Huge challenge for me— Umar Nurmagomedov (@UNmgdv) March 28, 2023
And start in big game
Let’s gggo pic.twitter.com/XcgCax0UL4
Classic Cung Le.
15 years ago today: Cung Le defeated Frank Shamrock to become the Strikeforce middleweight champion. Shamrock was unable to answer the bell for Round 4 due to an arm injury in what was a chaotic fight. The card was co-promoted by Strikeforce and EliteXC pic.twitter.com/anc9IA610y— Shakiel Mahjouri (@Shak_Fu) March 29, 2023
As if NZ bantamweight prospect Aaron Tau wasn't scary enough already pic.twitter.com/mDriYpEckf— Chris Ferguson (@CFerg_mma) March 29, 2023
For a few days to Mallorca for bicycle Training.— Jiri BJP Prochazka (@jiri_bjp) March 29, 2023
Adesanya nearly finished both Whittaker and Pereira in the last second of the first round— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) March 29, 2023
Will Izzy have more early-round magic in him at #UFC287?
(h/t freakmma/IG) pic.twitter.com/XauhI2q0Lz
“If it bleeds, we can kill it.” #ThePredators— Francis Ngannou (@francis_ngannou) March 29, 2023
It was an honor to meet the legendary @Schwarzenegger and pleasure to meet @BigTicket73 of the @nyjets! pic.twitter.com/0hOfLqAlzY
This looks like a perfect example of a real fight vs a movie fight. And yes, this was legal. @ONEChampionship pic.twitter.com/axikc7NhfA— Red Corner MMA (@RedCorner_MMA) March 29, 2023
Just look at it.
There's nothing like having fun with your combat sports on April Fools' Day.— FITE (@FiteTV) March 30, 2023
Step right up and look at the canvas for #FightCircus6.
Watch all the action this Saturday w/ your #FITEplus pass ($7.99/mo)
https://t.co/Wx3nNlUAgC@dr_octagon @MMAJunkie @arielhelwani pic.twitter.com/oyG6sGAGwd
Bad leg locks.
RIZIN 41 fight week hype.
Flying knee into guillotine? No problem for @makoto0705mma— RIZIN FF English (@rizin_English) March 29, 2023
Don't miss the DEEP & CFFC flyweight champ's surge to the top against former Pancrase Strawweight champ, Daichi Kitakata!
[ #RIZIN41 | 4/1 1:00am CT | @FiteTV | Watch the PPV here: https://t.co/1L6w5XNsI4 ] pic.twitter.com/DyETPjkMKt
Did you know?— RIZIN FF English (@rizin_English) March 29, 2023
Kyohei Hagiwara (@pax12_k) holds the 8⃣th fastest knockout in RIZIN history ⚡️
He takes on the tough Kyle Aguon at RIZIN.41!
[ #RIZIN41 | 4/1 1:00am CT | @FiteTV | Watch the PPV here: https://t.co/1L6w5XNsI4 ] pic.twitter.com/G8v0HM0spI
Been waiting, let’s cancel this bullshit cunt. https://t.co/dF7MCw66cT— Dan Hangman Hooker (@danthehangman) March 30, 2023
March 29, 2023
Gabe Green (11-4) vs. Bryan Battle (9-2); UFC Fight Night, May 13
Blake Bilder (8-0-1) vs. Kyle Nelson (13-5-1); UFC 289, June 10
Josh Emmett (18-3) vs. Ilia Topuria (13-0); UFC Fight Night, June 17
Gaethje may be the one fighter I can confidently say I never want to see retire. It’s entirely selfish, but I don’t care. The man knows he’s must-see TV!
Thanks for reading!
Who retires first?
This poll is closed
If you find something you’d like to see in the Morning Report, hit up @DrakeRiggs_ on Twitter and let him know about it. Also, follow MMAFighting on Instagram and like us on Facebook.