There might not be many in the business more likeable than Justin Gaethje (22-3). The former interim UFC lightweight champion just tells it like it is and he’s never afraid to be brutally honest even at his own expense.
We haven’t seen or heard much from Gaethje since his failed attempt to capture undisputed gold at UFC 254. That night, Gaethje took on Khabib Nurmagomedov. Gaethje was looked at as the most dangerous challenger to Khabib’s reign.
However, Khabib continued to show just how special he is dominating the fight and submitting Gaethje in the second round. Now, the former interim champion is ready to get back on the horse to try to capture UFC gold.
In an interview with The Schmo, Gaethje talked about what he wants to do next. “McGregor and Poirier are fighting soon, I would love to fight the winner of that. I wholeheartedly believe that you should be coming off a win to fight for a belt. So my job now is to get a win,” Gaethje said.
The Schmo followed up asking if Gaethje wants to wait for the winner of that fight. Gaethje replied, “I want to fight for the belt. If it’s the winner of that fight (who will be fighting for a belt), then in turn, I would have to beat somebody first.”
What’s the UFC’s plan for Gaethje?
You have to love the honesty from Justin Gaethje. He’s not sitting there demanding a UFC title shot despite the fact that he’s the top ranked lightweight in the division. He truly believes he has to win again before fighting for the belt.
So what should the UFC do with Gaethje? I think there are two very clear options for the promotion and Gaethje. I think the top option is for Gaethje to face Michael Chandler in January at UFC 257 as the co-main event.
Chandler has said he’s already in training camp and wants to fight on the McGregor – Poirier card. If the UFC pairs Gaethje with Chandler that night, you can see a little lightweight tournament forming for the championship.
The other option for Gaethje would be Dan Hooker. Hooker has expressed interest in fighting Gaethje and Hooker is also a top ranked lightweight. I think this should be the secondary option, but it’s another good one.
What we do know is that Gaethje wants to fight and win again before getting his next UFC title shot. I think we will get some clarity on the Justin Gaethje front sooner than later. I expect him to have a fight in January or February.