Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President, Dana White, came under fire from mixed martial arts (MMA) fans when he announced former lightweight champion, Conor McGregor, was next in line for a 155-pound title shot, despite the fact “Notorious” has just one lightweight victory in his UFC career.
One that came more than three years ago.
With Dustin Poirier recently falling to reigning division kingpin, Khabib Nurmagomedov, the next logical choice — at least according to the official rankings — would be Justin Gaethje. “The Highlight” is the winner of three straight with three nasty finishes, including last September’s beatdown over Donald Cerrone.
White told fans he was left with no choice but to book McGregor and blamed Gaethje for turning down fights. Now, the former World Series of Fighting (WSOF) lightweight champion is helping to shed some light on those mystery bouts by revealing when they were offered and how they left him at a disadvantage.
“I’m pretty sure it was when they offered me Tony Ferguson when he fought ‘Cowboy’ in June and they were looking for a replacement for that fight in May, in the beginning of May and I told them that wasn’t enough time, but if they pushed it back a little bit farther, I would take that fight,” Gaethje told MMA Tonight. “So it turned out they gave that (Ferguson) fight to ‘Cowboy.’ That happened and then, they asked if I wanted to fight Tony on Abu Dhabi’s card, and I said yes, and he said no.”
“Just recently, I believe (White) offered me Charles Oliveira in Brazil or Dan Hooker in New Zealand — all while the champion did not have a fight and McGregor was coming back and still looking for a fight,” Gaethje continued. “(White) has people above him that are telling him he needs to put this fight together because it’s going to make the most money, I’m sure. I don’t think he’s necessarily trying to make me look bad. I’ve done everything that man could ever want from a fighter or an employee or someone that he pays money to watch. So I don’t necessarily think it’s personal against me.”
Gaethje is hoping to co-headline UFC 249 to emphatically punch his title ticket.
McGregor is expected to get the next crack at the lightweight crown if he’s able to defeat Donald Cerrone in the UFC 246 pay-per-view (PPV) main event later this month in Las Vegas, which may happen in March if either Nurmagomedov or Ferguson get injured, but is more than likely going to take place later this year.
Unless “Cowboy” makes this entire argument pointless with a “Notorious” victory on Jan. 18.