Surging lightweight contender Justin Gaethje is on top of the world after securing a memorable main event knockout finish over Edson Barboza last weekend at UFC on ESPN 2 (highlights HERE).
As a result of Gaethje’s fine work, the former World Series of Fighting (WSOF) champion not only locked down his second-straight knockout finish — having defeated James Vick in just 87 seconds this past August — but he sets himself up for a huge matchup his next time out.
While “Highlight” has already turned his attention to current UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, the streaking contender is also eager to step inside of the cage with none other than Conor McGregor. This is the same McGregor who paid tribute to Gaethje following his finish over Barboza.
“There’s so many fights right now, but Conor sounds like he’s coming back so I’m the man,” said Gaethje in a recent interview with TMZ Sports (shown above). “If he’s going to fight somebody it has to be me.”
“That’s the one I want,” added Gaethje when asked if that’s the fight to make. “Tony [Ferguson] is there but he has to go back and get better. That leaves Conor and me.”
Gaethje, who is widely regarded as the most violent fighter in MMA today, would love the opportunity to stand and bang with “Notorious.” The former NCAA wrestler certainly has the ground game to control the Irishman and make it a rough night for the heralded striker, but that’s not what Gaethje is about.
“It’s the name of the game. I want to fight him,” reiterated Gaethje. “I want to fight him in Ireland. I know it’s not going to happen in Ireland but that’s my dream is to go over there and be in that sort of chaos. That’s what f—king wakes me up everyday.
“I’m going out there, I’m going to stand, and I’m going to knock him out. If he wants to retire I can help him on his way out.”
While McGregor still hasn’t officially announced his return to the sport after retiring late last month amidst stalled fight talks with UFC, the 30-year-old Irishman is still likely to return to the Octagon later this year. And even though McGregor could hold out for a rematch with Khabib or a grudge match with the winner of Max Holloway vs. Dustin Poirier, Gaethje would be a great opponent for “Notorious” in his return.
After all, McGregor needs someone who will engage him on the feet and throw caution to the wind. Gaethje has proven to be that type of fighter time and time again, so it would make sense for UFC to ride “Highlight’s” momentum and put him in a massive fan-friendly matchup with McGregor.
What say you, Maniacs? Does this matchup make sense at 155 pounds? Who has the early edge?