After an 18-month layoff, Gregor Gillespie returned in 2021 with a bonus-winning knockout.
If the long time away was frustrating at all after a November 2019 knockout loss to Kevin Lee in which he broke his jaw in the first setback of his career, perhaps he’s grown accustomed to the feeling he has these days.
Gillespie (14-1 MMA, 7-1 UFC) hasn’t been booked for another fight since his finish of Diego Ferreira in May 2021. He told MMA Junkie he’s been trying to get a fight with former interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson – and has agreed to one on his end.
But for reasons that Gillespie can’t understand, he said Ferguson doesn’t seem interested. And he’s also a little unsure why the fabled MMA math isn’t working out in his favor.
Beniel Dariush beat Ferreira with a split decision. But Gillespie knocked out Ferreira. Dariush got a fight with Ferguson and beat him and now has a potential title eliminator against Islam Makhachev coming up. So why hasn’t Gillespie gotten a fight with Ferguson or someone of his caliber?
“I’ve been radio silent the last five or six years. I don’t call people out. I’ve been pretty adamant about not doing that,” Gillespie told MMA Junkie. “… I’ve been offered fights. They’re just fights I’m not interested in taking. I’m not ancient by any means. I’m 35 years old. I don’t have that many years left in my career that I’m just not fighting guys ranked lower than me.”
And that may be what’s putting Gillespie between a rock and a hard place. His philosophy might be the same as Ferguson’s. Gillespie is No. 10 in the most recent official UFC lightweight rankings; Ferguson is No. 7.
But Gillespie said considering both he and Ferguson most recently fought around the same time, and everyone else in close proximity to them in the rankings already was booked or unavailable, Ferguson not signing on the dotted line to fight him doesn’t make sense to him.
“After I beat Ferreira, they offered me Ferguson for the November card (in New York). I said yes,” Gillespie said. “I didn’t hear back. I contacted my manager. He says, ‘They don’t sound too thrilled to fight you.’ … We kept asking for the fight, and the same response: ‘He doesn’t seem thrilled, he doesn’t want the fight, blah blah blah.’ … Then I see him calling out (Michael) Chandler. That really pissed me off.”
If Ferguson wants to fight a wrestler in Chandler, Gillespie was quick to point out he has a college wrestling win against him. Plus, Gillespie said, Chandler doesn’t wrestle much in his recent MMA fights.
“I’m not really sure what the issue is – why Tony wouldn’t want to fight me,” Gillespie said. “I’m 14-1. I have 12 finishes. I only have one fight in the UFC that wasn’t a finish. You could probably expect with a fight like me and Tony, you’re probably going to get an extra $50,000. It should be a fireworks kind of fight. I really don’t see what the downside is to fighting me. It’s really, really frustrating.”
With the irritation bubbling over for not getting a booking against Ferguson, Gillespie said he’d take a fight against Chandler – even though he knows he might have to wait a while after Chandler’s loss to Justin Geathje in November.
“I love the Mike Chandler fight, too,” he said. “My understanding from information I’ve gotten about that is Mike Chandler’s been in some wars – he needs a bit of a break. And I get that. He’s had some battles. You go through a fight like him and (Justin) Gaethje had, you need some rest. I get that. But if there’s a fight he gets scheduled in, he didn’t need that long of a break. I asked for that.
“There are obviously guys that have said my name and guys that want to fight me, but it’s not the guys that are going to propel me to the ultimate goal here. The clock is ticking, so I want to get this thing moving. If I was 27 years old, I’d take the fight with the guys that are behind me. But it’s a weird spot, I guess. So here we are.”
Gregor Gillespie def. Yancy Medeiros at UFC on ESPN+ 1: Best photos
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