Conor McGregor made it clear on Monday that he wants to take on Justin Gaethje in his next bout, and that he’d “butcher” the new interim lightweight champion in the Octagon.
Gaethje, however, isn’t interested in taking on a fighter who he believes is rapidly losing respect in the UFC world.
At least, not yet.
"He's losing his clout," Gaethje said Friday, via ESPN. "I don't mean with the general public, but with fighters. He's losing so much respect in the game, which he probably doesn't care. But to someone like me and even him, I would assume that matters a little bit. He doesn't hold the cards right now. I put myself in a great position. I asked for a say in my destiny, and I showed up. Now I can pick between Khabib and Conor right now. If I wanted to fight Conor right now, I could. Believe me. Why wouldn't [UFC president] Dana White put that together? But that's not the fight I want.
"I have nothing to say to him. You don't get to fight me next, unless there are crazy circumstances, where Khabib cannot fight. Then we'll fight. That's the only way. Other than that, you don't get a say. Dana White laughed whenever they told him Conor said he was fighting me. He said, 'No, Gaethje is fighting Khabib.' You're still worth all the money in the game, that's true. But you're losing clout when it comes to inside the game."
Gaethje sets sights on Khabib
Gaethje is fresh off perhaps the best showing of his career, when he picked up a dominant win against Tony Ferguson with a fifth-round TKO at UFC 249 last week. The win earned him the interim lightweight title, and should set up a unification bout against undefeated Russian star Khabib Nurmagomedov in the near future.
“That’s the fight I want,” Gaethje said, via ESPN. “That’s the fight I earned and deserve. It’s the only fight out there for me right now.”
Gaethje did say he thinks that he’ll take on McGregor eventually.
Whatever the Irishman does in the meantime, though, is his business. Gaethje won’t pay him any mind until after his bout with Nurmagomedov.
"I'm here to make money," Gaethje said, via ESPN. "When I beat Khabib, I will fight Conor because I'm trying to cash in. Whether he fights or not — do I think he should fight? Absolutely. But there are so many jokes you could make about his next fight. I don't know who he'd fight. One of the main requirements is you have to be coming off a loss."
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