One week ago, Justin Gaethje revealed he was in line to take on Charles Oliveira before he was passed over in favor of the promotion booking a title fight for the vacant Lightweight belt between “Do Bronx” and Michael Chandler.
With several of the top 155-pounder contenders locked up to fight each other, “Highlight” feels like he has been left out in the cold. Which is odd to him because he embodies what Dana White has always asked for in a fighter, which is to go all-out and never leave it in the hands of the judges.
That’s why the fan-favorite doesn’t understand why he can’t get a fight.
“Who knows, man,” Gaethje said in a recent interview with Raptors MMA (via MMA Junkie). “I can’t talk about it a lot right now. I’m sure me talking about it is the reason I’m here in the past. Who knows? Maybe I pissed someone off, I don’t know. All I know is since I was 12, 13 years old, I listened to Dana White do his interviews and explain what he wanted in a fighter, and I’m that motherf—ker.”
Gaethje hasn’t competed since coming up short in his bid to dethrone former UFC Lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov, at UFC 254 on Oct. 2020. Since then, he has been linked to fights against Chandler and Oliveira, but nothing ever came to fruition.
So while he doesn’t exactly know why he’s getting passed over, he just hopes it’s not the promotion trying to disrespect him.
“If I get disrespected, it’s going to be hurtful because I really bought in to what that man (Dana White) talked about. So yeah, it’ll hurt because I feel like I’m a company man from Day 1. I don’t ever wanna go anywhere else, I don’t ever want to fight anywhere else. But my principles are the most important thing to me, so we’ll see what happens.”
Rising 155-pound contender, Islam Makhachev, recently expressed his interest in a showdown against Gaethje, so perhaps if Ali Abdelaziz — who manages both men — can lock it down, it can smooth over any issues (if they exist at all) between UFC and “Highlight.”