Charles Oliveira captured the UFC lightweight title by smashing Michael Chandler at the UFC 262 PPV event last May in Houston, Texas. But “Do Bronx” only got a crack at the 155-pound crown — vacated by Khabib Nurmagomedov — because top lightweight contender Dustin Poirier was too busy collecting paychecks against Conor McGregor.
That’s according to No. 2-ranked Justin Gaethje.
“I thought this was the most coveted title in the UFC when Khabib was around, and it was turned into almost the laughing stock of the UFC overnight,” Gaethje told ESPN (transcribed by Farah Hannoun). “When you had Charles Oliveira and Michael Chandler fighting each other for the title to be the best, when those two weren’t the best guys fighting for the belt. It was me and (Dustin) Poirier, is who should be have been fighting for the belt, No. 1, No. 2. That’s what should’ve happened.”
Gaethje, who was submitted by Nurmagomedov at UFC 254 back in late 2020, will make his Octagon return against Chandler at the UFC 268 PPV event this November in New York. The victor is likely to challenge the winner of Oliveira vs. Poirier for the lightweight strap at some point in early-to-mid 2022.
“As soon as Poirier fights Oliveira, if Oliveira beats him and really solidifies himself as the best – right now he’s not the best,” Gaethje continued. “Right now he still has some quit in him, and he hasn’t been tested by the best guys. I think Chandler did do that, but it’s a very favorable matchup for Oliveira, so we’ll see. We’ll see how he handles Poirier. I can’t give him credit now, but if he goes out there and beats Poirier, I have no other choice but to give him the respect he deserves.”
A date for Poirier vs. Oliveira has yet to be determined.