Justin Gaethje has ruled out fighting Conor McGregor before facing UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov in an undisputed title fight.
The newly-crowned UFC interim lightweight champion did, however, say that once he’s finished with Nurmagomedov, then he’d look to a fight with McGregor in Ireland.
Gaethje impressed watchers on last night as he dismantled Tony Ferguson inside an almost-empty VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville. Gaethje was the underdog going into the UFC 249 main event, however, he managed to snap Ferguson’s 12-fight win streak to set up a clash with Nurmagomedov.
Following the fight, Gaethje took off his UFC belt and tossed it to one side claiming he “wanted the real thing”, a clear callout of Nurmagomedov.
Asked in his post-fight press conference whether the allure of a money fight with McGregor might tempt him more than a title fight, Gaethje was adamant that he faces the biggest challenge in the world next in Nurmagomedov.
‘No,” Gaethje replied emphatically.
“I want the biggest challenge in the world and that’s Khabib Nurmagomedov. USA v Dagestan.
“Then I’ll go to Ireland and do what I got to do.”
Whilst a fight in Ireland doesn’t look like happening for a while, it is an interesting prospect for further down the line.
Speaking to Barstool Sports last week, Dana White claimed that Conor McGregor is set and ready to fight, however, White admitted it would “kill” him to put on a McGregor card without any fans which looks like the only option at present.
“Conor’s been ready to fight for a while. He’s in shape. He’s ready to go.
“First of all, ‘Fight Island’ is going to be very important in any of these fights that are happening with people from outside the country.
“He and I were texting. He’s asking me what date can I fight on ‘Fight Island’ and will there be fans. Conor’s asking me, Conor wants to fight.
“It kills me to do a fight with Conor without fans. Kills me. This guy’s doing almost $20million gates.
“We’re not talking about a specific opponent but he wants to fight. He wants to fight, it sounds like he wants to fight in June and he’s asking if there would be fans there.
“There would not be fans and the fight would be either mid-June or end of June.”
Speculation is rife that McGregor’s next opponent on the so-called “Fight Island” may be with BMF belt-holder Jorge Masvidal and with Gaethje’s future looking set to be a clash with Nurmagomedov, it could pave the way for a fight in Ireland between McGregor and Gaethje down the line.
Stranger things have happened.