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Justin Gaethje: I want to fight Conor McGregor in Ireland, ‘that’s my dream’

With a recently announced retirement and a string of legal issues, Conor McGregor’s status with the UFC is anything but certain. Yet, for many fighters, ‘red panty night’ is still the goal.

Is ‘red panty night’ still a thing? It appears so. Conor McGregor may have only set foot in the Octagon one time since defeating Eddie Alvarez for the lightweight title back in 2016, but at least a couple of his contemporaries still see a possible fight with the former two-division UFC champion as a significant goal.

Only the other day, it was Anthony Pettis’ coach Duke Roufus making it clear that a fight with the ‘Notorious’ Irishman is smack dab in the center of Team Pettis’ radar. Telling MMA Fighting that, “When I say we want to fight Conor, we want to fight him because he’s one of the best.”

If that’s the fight ‘Showtime’ is gunning for, however, Justin Gaethje is just as hungry for the opportunity. In a recent interview with TMZ, Gaethje told the outlet a fight with McGregor – in Ireland – would be his “dream.” (transcript via MMA Fighting)

“This is the craziest weight class there is right now in the UFC,” Gaethje said. “I think it’s the one with the most opportunities to become a superstar. There’s so many fights right now, but Conor sounds like he’s coming back, so I’m the man. If he’s gonna fight somebody, it has to be me. That’s the one I want. Tony’s there but he’s gotta go back and get better so that leaves Conor and me.”

“F*ck, man, it’s the name of the game,” Gaethje added, speaking of his desire to face McGregor on the SBG Ireland fighter’s home turf. “I want to fight him. I want to fight him in Ireland. I know it’s not gonna happen in Ireland but that’s my dream, to go over there and be in that sort of chaos. That’s what f*cking wakes me up every day.

“I’ll go out there and stand and knock him out. He wants to retire, I can help him on his way out.”

The ‘Highlight’ is fresh off a first round knockout of fellow top-ranked lightweight Edson Barboza in the main event of UFC on ESPN 2 in Philadelphia, PA. That marked the second straight KO victory for Gaethje, and the 17th KO/TKO win in his 22 fight career. While McGregor did announce his retirement from MMA back in March, just a few days later he was telling fans on Twitter that he’d see them “in the Octagon,” amid an ongoing and escalating war of words with Khabib Nurmagomedov—who handed McGregor his latest loss back in October of last year.

It’s unclear if McGregor’s retirement plans ever made it as far as an official declaration to USADA, but after initially lending credence to the former-champ’s claims, Dana White has changed his tune.

“I think that there’s some things that Conor wants,” White said in a recent interview. “And I think that Conor wants to get together face to face, he and I. And we probably will in the next couple of weeks, and we’ll get this thing figured out. He’s stuck on this thing where he wants a piece of the ownership. I think there’s other ways we can make him happy.”

Unfortunately, one of the things that may need figuring out is McGregor’s litany of legal woes—major and minor. Not only is he currently under suspension with the Nevada Athletic Commission – for the UFC 229 post-fight brawl with Nurmagomedov and his team – but he’s also dealing with several criminal investigations. Ranging from small offenses (stealing and smashing a fan’s cell phone, allegedly attacking a man in a pub), to major ones (the ongoing sexual assault investigation reported by the New York Times). Whether McGregor wants to remain retired or not, fighters may have to put dreams of fighting him on hold for the time being.

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