Conor McGregor is coming back. The former two-weight UFC champion will fight Donald Cerrone in February next year. He hasn’t fought for over twelve months since losing to Khabib Nurmagamedov. One of the most volatile members of the roster, the Irishman is still incredibly popular.
However, he’s not the only star in the lightweight division by any means. There’s a whole line of killers in the hunt for gold, including Justin Gaethje. ‘The Highlight’ is currently on a three-fight win streak. With his brutal power and desire to get into a brawl, Gaethje has performance bonuses from all of his fights so far.
Gaethje is in a weird position where he’s waiting for a title shot. The only viable alternative was a fight with McGregor. But that’s not going to happen now. When asked about this, Gaethje’s answer was actually surprising.
Despite what you might think, Gaethje is happy that McGregor is coming back. ‘The Highlight’ is pragmatic about the situation. He recognises that McGregor is the biggest star in the sport and brings a lot of eyes to MMA. If the Irishman wasn’t fighting then a lot of casuals would lose interest. He told MMAJunkie:
“The truth is, I mean it’s good for the sport in general. He’s a true superstar. It’s good to have him back.”
You’ve got to appreciate it when a fighter sees the bigger picture. Gaethje definitely isn’t a fool.
Gaethje admitted that he was appeased by the fight being welterweight. Before this, he was furious that he was being overlooked by the UFC. ‘The Highlight’ is in a strange position now. He is the only top lightweight without a match-up. Khabib will fight Tony Ferguson. Any other fight for Gaethje would be to his disadvantage. He said:
“I’m glad it’s at 170. When I saw it was at 170 I was not disappointed at all. Maybe he’s shooting for the BMF belt or something. That’s cool. I think he should do fights just like that. So it’s cool.”
Isn’t that nice?
‘The Highlight’ is happy now but it wasn’t always the case. He went on Michael Bisping’s podcast and ranted about it. In short, he said that if McGregor got a title fight off of the back of a win over Cerrone it would be a travesty. To be fair he has a point. Now he doesn’t have to worry about – he hopes. Gaethje said:
“If Conor McGregor can fight Donald Cerrone and jump over me to fight Khabib, then I get it’s all about money, but I’m sitting right here, I’m f****** ready to go.
“I’m training. Donald Cerrone just got finished two times in a row. I get that Conor’s coming off a loss, but he’s calling for a title fight. If you want a title fight, you have to go through me, you cannot go through anybody else. You can go through Poirier, s***, me and Poirier, that’s the honest truth.”