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Justin Gaethje responds to Conor McGregor: ‘You don’t get to fight me next’

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“You don’t get to fight me next, unless there are crazy circumstances, where Khabib cannot fight.”

UFC 249 Ferguson v Gaethje Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

Justin Gaethje thinks Conor McGregor is getting desperate.

Shortly after Gaethje’s fifth-round TKO win over Tony Ferguson at UFC 249, McGregor called for a title bout with ‘The Highlight’, urging the newly-crowned interim lightweight champion to forgo his proposed title unification bout with Khabib Nurmagomedov in the summer.

Gaethje appeared to be giving McGregor the silent treatment until the former WSOF lightweight titleholder responded to ‘The Notorious’ in a recent interview with ESPN.

Gaethje rejected McGregor’s offer demand and said the former UFC two-division champ is losing respect among his fellow fighters.

“He’s losing his clout,” Gaethje told Brett Okamoto on Friday. “I don’t mean with the general public, but with fighters, he’s losing so much respect in the game, which he probably doesn’t care. But to someone like me and even him, I would assume that matters a little bit. He doesn’t hold the cards right now. I put myself in a great position. I asked for a say in my destiny, and I showed up. Now I can pick between Khabib and Conor right now. If I wanted to fight Conor right now, I could. Believe me. Why wouldn’t [UFC president] Dana White put that together? But that’s not the fight I want.

“I have nothing to say to him. You don’t get to fight me next, unless there are crazy circumstances, where Khabib cannot fight. Then we’ll fight. That’s the only way. Other than that, you don’t get a say. Dana White laughed whenever they told him Conor said he was fighting me. He said, ‘No, Gaethje is fighting Khabib.’ You’re still worth all the money in the game, that’s true. But you’re losing clout when it comes to inside the game.”

Gaethje didn’t completely dismiss McGregor, however, as he recognizes that the Irishman is the biggest draw in the sport and would make him a lot of money.

“I’m here to make money,” Gaethje said. “When I beat Khabib, I will fight Conor because I’m trying to cash in. Whether he fights or not — do I think he should fight? Absolutely. But there are so many jokes you could make about his next fight. I don’t know who he’d fight. One of the main requirements is you have to be coming off a loss.”

Gaethje is expected to face Khabib in September, but the bout has yet to be confirmed.