On May 9, Justin “The Highlight” Gaethje turned in arguably the most impressive performance in his mixed martial arts career when he defeated Tony “El Cucuy” Ferguson at UFC 249. The victory over El Cucuy, who was on a 12-fight win streak, earned Gaethje the interim lightweight title and the presumed next crack at current lightweight champ Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov.
On Wednesday, Gaethje and his coach Trevor Wittman appeared on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast. The Highlight spoke with UFC color commentator Joe Rogan about a variety of different topics, including who he wants to take on next. Typically, the interim champ would want to fight the champion next to unify the title, however, this is a unique situation.
UFC’s Conor “Notorious” McGregor is currently ranked No. 4 and a fight with the Irishman would likely give The Highlight his biggest payday in the UFC. But Gaethje has made it clear that he is “not that fighter.” He told Joe Rogan that although he “could fight [McGregor] now if [he] wanted to,” he wants to unify the title instead.
He said: “I have the opportunity to do something that can be unmatched in the history of our sport. To go in there coming off the circumstances to beat Tony like I did, go beat Khabib, go beat Conor, that’s legendary.”
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Gaethje Said That He’s In a Great Position in the UFC
Gaethje told Rogan that before he earned the interim title, McGregor was “going to somehow, someway” get the fight with Khabib over him. The rematch between McGregor and Khabib is looked at by many as having the potential to be the biggest UFC pay-per-view ever.
However, due to Khabib dropping out of his UFC 249 fight with Ferguson because of the global COVID-19 lockdown, Gaethje was granted a shot at the interim belt. He won it and he now feels like he is in a great position.
I’m in a great position because, for one, I get to fight for a title. There [are] 500 people on this roster and every single one of them would love to be in this position right now. But I also have the ability to bring some kind of rhyme or reason, a way to a title shot for young guys that come in and think politics run the show. They ultimately do, but there’s one small chance you get a say in your destiny and eliminate politics and that’s what I just did.
Gaethje Is Also Eyeing a Rematch With Top-Ranked Lightweight Dustin Poirier
The Highlight told Rogan that McGregor “wasn’t on [his] list.” Gaethje wants to take on Khabib, and if McGregor “is not there,” then he would fight No. 3 ranked lightweight Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier.
During the podcast, The Highlight said:
Business-wise, the smart move would be [to] fight Conor right now because that’s obviously a lot of money. But I make more money when I beat Khabib, and then fight [McGregor]. And if Conor is not there, I’ll fight Poirier. He’s not on my list, Conor. Khabib and Poirier are the two on my list right now. If I fight both and make good paydays, then I’m good.
Gaethje likely has Poirier on his list because he lost to him on April 14, 2018, during UFC on Fox: Poirier vs. Gaethje. The fight was an exciting affair, with The Diamond winning the match by fourth-round TKO.
If Gaethje can get through Khabib, then there are only two men that have ever defeated The Highlight in professional mixed martial arts: Poirier and former UFC lightweight champ Eddie Alvarez. Alvarez is no longer signed with the UFC, so Gaethje will be unable to avenge that loss in the near future.