Justin Gaethje has one mission to accomplish and that is to dethrone undefeated UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov next weekend at UFC 254 on “Fight Island.”
Gaethje, who currently holds the interim UFC lightweight title, is entering the biggest fight of his professional MMA career. The 31-year-old is already one of the most entertaining fighters to ever step foot inside of the Octagon. He’ll have a chance to become a world champion and defeat the most dominant fighter in recent memory when he locks horns with Nurmagomedov.
If Gaethje is able to hand Khabib his first loss and walk away with the undisputed UFC lightweight title he’ll put a massive target on his back entering 2021. With former UFC champion Conor McGregor expected to return to action against Dustin Poirier this January, Gaethje may have another fight on his hands sooner than he expects.
However, Gaethje has made no plans beyond his title fight with Khabib at UFC 254. Despite McGregor being the biggest money fight in the game today and the two sharing a rocky history, Gaethje isn’t ready to give “Notorious” what he wants.
“I said it before, I’ll say it again, he’s losing all his pull here,” Gaethje said of McGregor in a recent interview with TMZ Sports (shown above).
“For me, wrestling my whole life, when you were champion you didn’t think about others,” he added. “You just thought about not letting someone take that from you. When I get this belt the target will be on my back and I will have no need to call anybody out.
“So who knows. Honestly it wouldn’t matter. It wouldn’t matter who I fought after I beat Khabib. This is will cement my legacy and that’s the only thing I’m here for.”
While fans love to talk about “what’s next,” especially when it comes to McGregor, Gaethje is doing exactly what he is supposed to being doing. All of his focus needs to go towards UFC 254 and taking Nurmagomedov’s lightweight title. Taking time to think about a matchup with McGregor, or even a rematch with Poirier for that matter, isn’t something “Highlight” should be contemplating.
After all, he’s trying to cement his MMA legacy and become a lightweight legend with a win over “Eagle.”
UFC 254 will take place on Oct. 24 live on ESPN+ PPV from inside Flash Forum on “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi. The PPV card will have an unusual 2 p.m. ET start time.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 254 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN 2/ESPN+ at 12 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 2 p.m. ET on ESPN+.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC 254: “Khabib vs. Gaethje” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.