What’s next for Justin Gaethje after UFC 254?

Daniel Cunningham

Yesterday, Justin Gaethje got the opportunity he’s worked his whole career for. He got the chance to headline against arguably the greatest of all time at UFC 254. Gaethje entered the cage yesterday as the interim champion.

Standing across from him was the undisputed king, Khabib Nurmagomedov. Nurmagomedov entered a perfect 28-0, and nobody had really ever come close to defeating the UFC‘s lightweight champion.

However, Gaethje was looked at as the most dangerous opponent. He brought power striking and wrestling credentials to the table. Khabib’s star factor and Gaethje’s style made yesterday must see TV for any fan of the UFC.

There were a couple of times during the fight that Gaethje looked good. He hit Khabib with some good leg kicks, and he landed some solid shots. However, he really struggled with the pressure that Khabib put on him in the UFC 254 main event.

Nurmagomedov showed no respect for the power of Gaethje. He just walked through everything and you could tell he was tiring Gaethje. In the second round, Nurmagomedov secured a takedown and transitioned to a triangle choke where he put Gaethje to sleep.

What’s next for Gaethje after UFC 254?

No matter how you slice it, UFC 254 was a disappointment for Justin Gaethje. However, there’s no shame in it considering all the best at lightweight have suffered the same fate at the hands of Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Nurmagomedov retired after the main event concluded yesterday which opens the lightweight division up. Gaethje should be right back in the conversation for a crack at the vacant UFC lightweight champion.

In his post-fight interview, Gaethje had mentioned that he didn’t take a ton of damage so he wanted to get right back in there. I think the UFC is probably going to make McGregor – Poirier the fight for the vacant UFC championship.

Gaethje deserves a spot in the conversation, but I think the promotion ultimately goes that way. That being said, I would love to see Gaethje paired up with Michael Chandler. Chandler was the backup fighter for yesterday’s UFC 254 main event.

The promotion holds him in high regards so I think it would be fitting to pair the two up. Either make them a main event or put them on the same card as McGregor-Poirier. The two winners face off in the summer for the UFC lightweight championship.