Justin Gaethje is coming off a TKO over Donald Cerrone, but it’s Conor McGregor who’s in line for the next lightweight title fight if he beats Cerrone later this month.
UFC president Dana White spoke with ESPN’s Brett Okamoto about what’s in store for 2020, including the status of the top contenders at 155. While some have scoffed at the idea of McGregor getting a title shot by beating Cerrone at welterweight, White defended the decision by citing McGregor’s past accomplishments, along with a dig at Gaethje by claiming he’s been turning down bouts.
“C’mon guys,” White said. “Look what Conor has done over the last however many years. And then he loses to Khabib in a fight that was, when you talk about bad blood, it’s like next level of bad blood. And Gaethje was on his way up, too. We’ve offered Gaethje a lot of fights that Gaethje hasn’t taken either. So Conor is in line next for this fight if he beats Cowboy.”
White never elaborated on what fights Gaethje supposedly turned down.
After consecutive defeats to Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier, Gaethje has responded with first-round knockout wins over James Vick, Edson Barboza, and most recently Cerrone. He does not have a fight booked as of now, and he’s been vocal about the potential for McGregor to jump ahead of him in the queue.
As far as McGregor vs. Cerrone at welterweight being for a lightweight title shot, White considers it a lightweight bout in which neither man actually cuts weight.
“It’s a 155-pound fight that they’re not cutting weight for,” White said. “And realistically when Conor said I want to do this fight at 170 and then gave me the reasoning he wanted to do it, I was like, there’s no way Cowboy is going to argue with that. Why cut the weight if they both agreed they don’t want to cut weight?
Reigning champion Khabib Nurmagomedov is scheduled (for the millionth time) to face Tony Ferguson in the UFC 249 main event in April. Meanwhile, McGregor vs. Cerrone headlines UFC 246 in Las Vegas on January 18th.
For Gaethje, I suppose it’s just a matter of sitting and waiting, or taking another fight.