Not long after coming up short against Charles Oliveira at UFC 274 last May, longtime title contender Justin Gaethje went under the knife to correct a longstanding issue with his nose. That means “The Highlight” will be out of action until some point early next year.
“I told them next year,” Gaethje told MMA Fighting. “They got a fight for the title [at UFC 280], so somebody’s got to fight the loser. Michael Chandler and Dustin Poirier are going to fight, somebody’s got to fight the winner. I’ll be ready next year, ideally January, February, or March, whatever they want to do. I’m not sure when Kamaru [Usman] is going to London [for the Leon Edwards rematch], but I wouldn’t mind fighting in London.”
Gaethje (23-4) turns 34 in just a few weeks and despite losing two of his last three, remains ranked No. 3 at 155 pounds. Not far down the lightweight ladder, No. 7-ranked Rafael Fiziev (12-1) continues to campaign for a “Highlight” fight and is willing to wait for his return.
“I think I can fight December,” Fiziev told The AllStar. “But I want this guy, bro. This yellow guy. I want him because it’s a very big challenge for me and really, this is nice fight. Maybe January. I can wait (for) him. I can wait (for) him, I can wait like next year, for sure. No problem. I like it because now, my body is – I just rest, I feel good, I eat everything, what I want already. And now, mentally, I’m already want (to get) back to schedule, want (to get) back to diet, want to stay in shape. Skinny, you know? I miss this.”
Gaethje has yet to respond to Fiziev’s (multiple) callout.