Gaethje (23-3 MMA, 6-3 UFC) said he hasn’t been promised anything by UFC officials just yet, but he doesn’t think that’s even necessary. After all, he doesn’t think he’d be the only one ready to riot if anyone else got the next crack at the UFC lightweight title.
“I don’t need to hear anything,” Gaethje told MMA Junkie on Thursday. “I do not. I already know. I’m not going to – those are the things I can’t control, you know? I did what I had to do to control the situation. Outside that, I have no more control now. It would be all on the fans, the journalists, the integrity. That has to be questioned.
“People respect us because it’s not boxing because the best fights happen. I have to fight the winner of Charles Oliveira and Dustin Poirier to justify the integrity of this sport, and I’m comfortable with that. I don’t need to do anything else.”
Just one week prior to Gaethje’s latest win, fellow 155-pound contender Islam Makahachev steamrolled through veteran contender Dan Hooker in Abu Dhabi and then made his case for why his nine-fight winning streak should be enough to catapult him up the UFC’s official rankings and into a title shot.
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But after turning in the UFC 268 “Fight of the Night,” not to mention one of the more entertaining fights ever seen in the octagon, Gaethje doesn’t believe there’s any reason for a discussion.
“If you say ‘no disrespect’ to him, you would have to understand how disrespectful you’d be being if you thought in any way that he deserved that, you know?” Gaethje asked. “He fought No. 14, went to No. 5, and he fought a late replacement with Dan Hooker. There’s no world in which, in the integrity of this sport, he would deserve, you know, or justify him doing that.”
And so Gaethje said he’ll now wait for the winner of the UFC 269 main event on Dec. 11, when reigning champ Oliveira takes on Poirier with the belt on the line. “The Highlight” expects to receive a call shortly after.
Whether or not he’ll be in attendance that night at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena remains to be seen.
“I don’t know,” Gaethje said. “I’m a quarter-mile-at-a-time type of guy. I’ll be in Vegas next week. I’m cornering one of my teammates, Rafa Garcia. Then I’m going to go to the Raiders game, then I’m going to fly to Arizona, spend Thanksgiving with my family, and then I’m going to go do the Polar Express with my seven nieces and two nephews, and then I have no plans after that right now.”
To see the full interview with Gaethje, check out the video below.
Justin Gaethje def. Michael Chandler at UFC 268: Best photos
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