Following his first-round win over Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone at UFC Fight Night 158 in Vancouver on Saturday night, Justin Gaethje appears closer than ever to a title shot in the promotion’s lightweight division. And while he appears to be most interested in facing the winner of a potential lightweight championship bout between reigning champ Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson, “The Highlight” also admitted that he’d like to face Conor McGregor, who has yet to return to the octagon after his title loss to Nurmagomedov in October at UFC 229.
As reported by Bloody Elbow, Gaethje initially revealed in his post-fight interview at UFC Fight Night 158 that he doesn’t think a bout against McGregor is possible, given that the “Irishman’s retired.”
He went on to say that he wants a “real fighter,” dropping the names of Nurmagomedov and Ferguson as potential opponents for his next matchup. As of this writing, neither man has been confirmed for an upcoming UFC fight.
Not long after that interview, Gaethje appeared to suggest that a fight against McGregor might not be that farfetched after all. During the post-fight press conference, the Arizona native again reiterated that he believes McGregor is retired, but this time stressed that he would love the opportunity to face him if he chooses to return to the octagon.
“He punched an old man in the face. I want to (expletive) him up for that. Far as I know, he’s retired. He’s in the rankings, so he either fights or he gets out. I absolutely would love to fight him.”
Gaethje’s remarks about McGregor punching an “old man” pertain to an alleged incident that took place at an Irish pub in April but only went viral in August. As previously reported by The Inquisitr, the clip supposedly showed McGregor offering shots of his Proper No. 12 whiskey to bar patrons before punching an elderly man who repeatedly refused to take a shot.
When asked about the incident, UFC president Dana White said that the footage on the video was “pretty bad” but also admitted that he doesn’t know the whole story and isn’t sure why McGregor purportedly attacked the man at the bar.
Although McGregor has yet to directly address Gaethje’s remarks, the 31-year-old Irishman took to Twitter on Saturday night right after the latter’s win over Cerrone, posting a photo of himself wearing workout gear while sitting in the back of a vehicle, wearing a serious look on his face. While this post did not include a caption, The Sun reported that a subsequent tweet from McGregor on Sunday might hint at a plan to return to UFC action in Dublin in December.