As the lightweight title picture starts to unfold, top contender Justin Gaethje finds himself without an opponent or a resolution while UFC President Dana White eyes other contenders for the belt. In a recent interview with ESPN, White told Brett Okamoto that he feels the upcoming Conor McGregor vs Donald Cerrone main event fight at UFC 246 is a 155-pound fight that’s happening at 170 because both fighters agreed they didn’t want to cut weight.
White would go on to say that if McGregor was victorious over Cerrone, he would likely get himself a lightweight title shot to face the winner of Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Tony Ferguson which is scheduled to take place on April 18, 2020 in Brooklyn, New York at UFC 249. When White was asked about other top contenders in the division like Justin Gaethje who is both without an upcoming fight and has a resume that should warrant him a title shot, White said that Gaethje has turned down fights he’s been offered, but never elaborated further.
On Thursday, “The Highlight” himself would provide some clarity when he appeared on Sirius XM’s “MMA Tonight” with hosts RJ Clifford and AJ Hawk. When asked about White’s comments about him turning down fights, Gaethje detailed which fights he’s been offered and more.
— MMA on SiriusXM (@MMAonSiriusXM) January 3, 2020
“Yeah I’ve been trying to figure out what he’s talking about, I know when he did the interview not too long ago, he kept saying ‘Justin Gaethje knows what’s going on’, I literally had no idea what he’s talking about. I was just thinking about it, talking about with my Dad, and I’m pretty sure it was, they offered me Tony Ferguson, you know when Tony Ferguson fought Cowboy in June, they were looking for a replacement for that fight in May. I told them it wasn’t enough time but if they pushed it back a little bit farther I would take that fight then they turned out giving that fight to Cowboy, that happened.
“They then asked me if I wanted to fight Tony on the Abu Dhabi card, I said yes, he said no, so I took the Cowboy fight a week after that. Recently I believe they offered me Charles Oliveira in Brazil or Dan Hooker in New Zealand, all while the champion did not have a fight and McGregor was coming back and looking for a fight. As far as I know that’s what the deal is.”
While Gaethje gave detailed surrounding the fights that he has turned down and what has happened with him recently, he said he hasn’t spoken to Dana White much, and he believes the people above Dana are the ones who are telling him what fights need to be made.
“I don’t have his [Dana White] number, he doesn’t have my number, so I’m not sure. I have a good manager Ali Abdelaziz, when he [White] said that, I called him [Abdelaziz] right away and was like ‘What is he talking about? What did I do?’ I know I had not done anything wrong. He has people above him, Dana White, this is a money business, he has people above him that are telling him he needs to put this fight together because it’s going to make the most money, I’m sure. I don’t think he’s necessarily trying to make me look bad, I’ve done everything that man could ever want from a fighter, or an employee, or someone he pays money to. I don’t think it’s necessarily personal against me, I think it’s again, people above him telling him that he needs to make that fight happen no matter what. They moved me above him [McGregor] in the rankings so it helps me a little bit when it comes to politics, a little bit better of an argument, so that’s where we’re at right now.”
Justin Gaethje doesn’t seem to have any bad feelings towards Dana White or his recent comments, but it’ll be interesting to see what the UFC decides to do with Gaethje next in the lightweight division.