Justin Gaethje did enough in his spectacular fight with Michael Chandler at UFC 268 to earn the next UFC lightweight title shot over the streaking Islam Makhachev. Despite what anyone else says, “Highlight” has earned his right to fight for the belt once again.
Unfortunately, Gaethje needed to put himself through hell against Chandler to earn that right. Prior to his fight with Chandler it looked like Makhachev was going to get the next shot at lightweight gold after he destroyed Dan Hooker via submission at UFC 267. Even Makhachev’s former teammate, Daniel Cormier, called for the Russian to get the next shot, but Gaethje wasn’t having it.
“It’s got me in trouble many times in my life but I consider myself a straight shooter,” Gaethje told MMA Fighting. “When I see something, I speak to it. When I saw that happen that night, I said what I thought and I was unhappy.
“If DC was in my shoes and someone was trying to pass him up, take money off his table, take food away from his family, he would have said the same thing.”
Luckily for Gaethje, he was able to turn the attention back on him after his win over Chandler earlier this month. It now looks like Makhachev will have to wait for his first shot at UFC gold, which is something Cormier echoed after Gaethje’s win.
“I got respect for what [Cormier] tried to do,” Gaethje said. “But again, not even DC can challenge the f—king integrity of what I just did.”
Assuming Gaethje does in fact get the next title shot it will come against the winner of Charles Oliviera vs. Dustin Poirier. The two lightweights will collide at UFC 269 this December in what will be Oliveira’s first title defense since winning the 155-pound strap against Chandler this past May.
If Gaethje is able to win the belt from either man he is more than willing to grant Makhachev the first title shot. In fact, it’s something that “Highlight” is looking forward to.
“I’ll let him go first if he gets his spot,” Gaethje said about offering Makhachev the first shot if he wins the title. “I’ll beat one of these guys [Charles Oliveira or Dustin Poirier] and then I’ll allow him to go first. F*ck yeah, I’m looking forward to that.”
Gaethje, who is easily one of the most exciting and barbaric fighters in the sport today, issued a quick message to Makhachev as well. Despite the Russian fighter winning his last nine trips to the Octagon “Highlight” believes a matchup between the two would be absolute war.
“War is coming,” Gaethje said. “He has to know one thing, f—king war is coming. So bring it.”