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Morning Report: Justin Gaethje says ‘there’s a reason’ Conor McGregor has declined to fight in the past

UFC 291: Poirier v Gaethje 2 Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images

Justin Gaethje is on top of the world after his massive BMF title victory at UFC 291 this past weekend.

“The Highlight” hit a redemptive homerun in the form of a head-kick knockout against Dustin Poirier in their main event rematch. A tense first round between the entertaining lightweights teased finishing sequences and one minute into the second frame was all it took for Gaethje to land flush.

Immediately after the win, the former UFC featherweight and lightweight titlist Conor McGregor reinserted his name into the mix, calling for a fight with Gaethje and claiming he’d finish the new BMF champion in one round. In his post-fight press conference, Gaethje brushed off the comments, expressing little interest and remaining neutral on the matter until “The Notorious” makes an actual return.

“Who knows? Of course, I like to fight, that sounds exciting but UFC’s the boss here so who knows,” Gaethje told TMZ Sports of a potential McGregor matchup. “Even if I heard that he might want to do it, until someone signs the contract, none of that s*** matters. Words are just words. If I was ever to get a contract, it would be a fun conversation that I would have with my family and my coaches.

“There’s a reason that he has turned me down six times. How you lose to me is not how you can lose and continue to be Conor McGregor. That’s a big risk for him and he’s always saying something, trying to take the light away from people fighting in the cage. Whatever. I know it’s entertainment but I don’t really want to buy into that and play that game.”

McGregor is currently taking center stage on The Ultimate Fighter 31 (TUF) as a coach opposite Michael Chandler. As is tradition with the reality TV series, the coaches are expected to square off at some point after the season wraps. However, McGregor still hasn’t re-entered the USADA testing pool since leaving in 2022 after his broken leg suffered against Poirier in July 2021. He’ll need six months of testing before eligible to officially return — barring any exemptions.

Ultimately, this whole aftermath of UFC 291 feels like deja vu for Gaethje, remembering the period before his first UFC title shot in October 2020.

“I’ve actually been in this scenario before,” Gaethje said. “When I was gonna fight Khabib [Nurmagomedov], he (Conor) was again just chirping up and saying something. This is not the first time he’s tried to butt in. But he always fights the people that [lose to me] for some reason. Dude, who knows? I don’t even know.”

Gaethje’s stellar win over Poirier has positioned him nicely in the division as the potential next challenger for the winner of October’s 155-pound title rematch. The champion Islam Makhachev and challenger Charles Oliveira will run back their October 2022 encounter later this year as the UFC 294 headliner in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

The one-time interim champion Gaethje has come up short in his previous two bids for undisputed gold against the aforementioned Nurmagomedov and Oliveira. In a perfect world, he’ll get his wish and that’s challenging for the undisputed title once again.

“That would be ideal,” Gaethje said of getting a title shot next. “I think so and that’s my plan, that’s my goal. I’m going to get right back to training with that in mind. But with UFC, you never know. You just gotta stay mentally ready to start training because these are long camps so you got to be mentally ready so you kind of try to stay a little bit halfway in between. Because who knows what’s gonna happen?”


Recap. The Ultimate Fighter 31: Conor McGregor vs. Michael Chandler Episode 10 results

Next? Justin Gaethje responds to Conor McGregor’s knockout prediction with contract challenge

Controversy. Bobby Green responds to Tony Ferguson’s eye poke accusation at UFC 291

Unimpressed. Matt Brown scoffs at Conor McGregor’s latest outburst: ‘Everybody wants to see him fight except himself

Standings. MMA Pound-for-Pound Rankings: Is Justin Gaethje a top 15 fighter in the world?

Vote. World MMA Awards 2023 nominees

Cancelation. Kelvin Gastelum out of fight with Shavkat Rakhmonov in September

Fights. Dana White’s Contender Series lineups announced for week 1 and week 3 ahead of Aug. 8 debut


TUF Hang - TUF 31: Ep. 10.

Free fight.

Contender Series season 7 preview.

Karate in Bellator.

PFL Road to the Championship.

Jenkins vs. Pinedo preview.

War Room: Paul vs. Diaz.

Khamzat meets Zlatan.

That’s a lot of damage...!


Heck of a Morning. MMA Fighting’s Mike Heck discusses the UFC 291 fallout, Tony Ferguson’s future; Plus, Kenny Florian joins the show.





A wild Nick Diaz appears.

Here we go.


Fight week goes hard.


Taking in the results.


Sean Woodson (9-1-1) vs. Dennis Buzukja (11-2); UFC Nashville, Aug. 5

Fernando Padilla (15-4) vs. Kyle Nelson (14-5-1); UFC Las Vegas, Sept. 16


I made that poll and suddenly really want to see Gaethje vs. Alexander Volkanovski. More lightweight Max Holloway and Volkanovski matchups, please.

Thanks for reading!



Who should Justin Gaethje fight next?

This poll is closed

  • 62%
    Islam Makhachev vs. Charles Oliveira 2 winner
    (497 votes)
  • 3%
    Islam Makhachev vs. Charles Oliveira 2 loser
    (30 votes)
  • 17%
    Conor McGregor
    (138 votes)
  • 5%
    Alexander Volkanovski
    (40 votes)
  • 3%
    Max Holloway
    (28 votes)
  • 3%
    Beneil Dariush
    (25 votes)
  • 4%
    Dustin Poirier 3
    (32 votes)
  • 0%
    Other (Comment below)
    (6 votes)
796 votes total Vote Now

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