In response to Conor McGregor‘s comments from earlier this week where he said he would “butcher” him if they get to fight each other, UFC interim lightweight champion Justin Gaethje sounded off on the former double champion, explaining why he isn’t interested in facing him in the octagon just yet.
Speaking to ESPN on Friday, Gaethje told the publication that McGregor, who last fought in January at UFC 246, is “losing his clout.” The 31-year-old lightweight fighter, who won the interim title in a fifth-round TKO victory over Tony Ferguson at UFC 249 on Saturday, added that this loss of clout might not be the case with fans in general, but rather with McGregor’s fellow fighters. He then suggested that the Irishman likely doesn’t care about such issues at the end of the day.
“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 [Nurmagomedov] 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.”
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) May 12, 2020
Expounding on why he doesn’t see much merit in fighting McGregor, Gaethje added that the only time such a fight could happen is if there are “crazy circumstances” that prevent Nurmagomedov — the undefeated lightweight champion — from defending his title. He then suggested that White “laughed” whenever someone would say that McGregor wants a shot at him, stressing that the UFC boss wants to see him and Nurmagomedov face off for a unification of the lightweight title.
As recalled by Sporting News, Gaethje was named as a last-minute replacement for Nurmagomedov at UFC 246, as the Russian fighter was unable to fly to the United States due to travel restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The outlet also quoted White, who expects both men to face each other in a unification bout this summer. The encounter is likely to take place at the so-called “Fight Island” — a still-under-construction facility located off the coast of the United States.
Despite Gaethje’s apparent disinterest in a fight with McGregor, the former collegiate wrestling standout didn’t rule out the possibility that they will eventually meet in the octagon. He emphasized that his main focus at the moment is defeating Nurmagomedov in the unification fight.
Gaethje concluded his interview with ESPN by throwing further shade at “The Notorious,” joking that one of the “main requirements” to face McGregor is to be fresh off a defeat.