With Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) booking two major fights between Anthony Pettis vs. Nate Diaz at Welterweight, and Donald Cerrone vs. Tony Ferguson at Lightweight, it immediately eliminated four potential opponents for Conor McGregor. On the flip side, it increased Justin Gaethje’s chances of getting his much-desired fight against “Notorious.”
Speaking to ESPN, Gaethje feels the timing is just right for UFC to book a fight between him and the mouthy Irishman. If not, then there is simply no point in having McGregor taking up the No. 3 spot at 155 pounds if he isn’t going to fight anytime soon.
“Looking at the landscape, Conor McGregor [who last fought against Nurmagomedov in October] is No. 3 right now. If it’s not him, there’s not an open fight right now. So, that’s the fight I want. He’s No. 3. If he’s not going to fight, take him out of the rankings. I’d be cool with that, too, and we can move on from there.”
Removing McGregor from the rankings won’t be so easy, as it took two years for the promotion to finally bounce the aforementioned Diaz for inactivity. Plus, McGregor’s technically only been inactive because the six-month suspension he was tagged with following his post-fight scuffle with Team Khabib at UFC 229 last October (video here).
Still, McGregor does have a history of being picky with his opponents, which means locking down a big-money showdown against the biggest cash cow in the sport isn’t an easy task.
“I don’t know what else to say about it. Unless he just does not want to fight me, if he wants to be that picky about it. I can’t control that,” he added. “I’ll worry about things I can control. But I would definitely love to f--- him up. Every time I get a chance to f--- someone up who talks a lot of s---, it makes it more fun for me.”
Gaethje is riding high off two first-round knockout victories over James Vick and Edson Barboza, both of which scored him post-fight bonus money. In fact, his latest destruction of Barboza caught McGregor’s attention, as the former UFC champ-champ gave “Highlight” his respect for his performance.
That said, McGregor did also give Cerrone praise after taking out Alexander Hernandez in impressive fashion, and even teased him with a possible showdown. In the end, though, nothing came of it, so Gaethje’s management team – whom McGregor knows very well -- will have to step up its game if they want to secure a date.