Last week, we learned that UFC 262 will be headlined by the vacant lightweight title fight between Michael Chandler and Charles Oliveira. The pairing was a little shocking considering neither of those two are the UFC‘s top two ranked lightweights.
The two top spots currently belong to Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje (22-3). Poirier is currently negotiating with the UFC and they are looking to book him in the trilogy fight with Conor McGregor in July.
With Poirier off the table, Gaethje is the top guy. Gaethje was the interim lightweight champion when he made the walk to face Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 254. The Highlight fell short, but he still maintains his top ranking.
In an interview that was posted this morning, Gaethje expressed his confusion with the turn of events. Gaethje said, “I can’t talk about it (the lightweight picture) right now. I’m sure me talking about it is the reason I’m here. Maybe I’ve pissed someone off.”
The UFC had been working on a matchup between Gaethje and Michael Chandler. However, once Khabib said he was staying retired, the promotion shifted gears and booked Chandler against Oliveira which doesn’t make sense.
What’s next for Justin Gaethje in the UFC?
I personally think it’s a little ridiculous that the UFC is crowning a new lightweight champion and neither one of those guys are ranked at the top of the division. It seems completely backwards and Justin Gaethje should be incredibly frustrated.
As mentioned, Gaethje was the former interim champion. Charles Oliveira has won eight fights in a row, but only one of those guys is inside the UFC’s top ten. Michael Chandler has had one fight inside the UFC and it was against someone outside the top five.
Neither one of those fighters are more deserving than Gaethje in my opinion. However, the UFC saw things differently. Now, what happens from here? Well, it appears that Gaethje is going to be on the sidelines for some time.
One fight for Gaethje would be against former lightweight champion, Rafael Dos Anjos (30-13). That would be the fight I’d try to make for Gaethje. However, there’s no guarantees that gets made. At the moment, Gaethje is stuck between a rock and a hard place with the UFC.