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Gaethje concerned that the UFC might be punishing him for past statements

Top UFC lightweight Justin Gaethje is at a loss to explain why he has been on the sidelines since October.

Justin Gaethje last fought in October. That’s when he faced Khabib Nurmagomedov for the UFC lightweight title. He lost that fight, due to submission, and then had a front row seat for ‘The Eagle’’s retirement speech.

Since then, Gaethje has seen top lightweights duke it out for a spot atop the rankings and a crack at 155 lb gold. Recently, like the rest of us, he learned that former Bellator champ Michael Chandler will face Charles Oliveira for the strap at UFC 262 in May.

With so much activity at the top of his division, Gaethje is starting to feel sore about sitting on the sidelines for so long. And he’s worried that he might have said something to cause this.

“Who knows, man,” Gaethje told Full Reptile when asked about his status in the division (ht MMA Fighting). “I can’t talk about it a lot right now—I’m sure me talking about it [in the past] is the reason I’m here. Who knows? Maybe I pissed someone off. I don’t know.

“All I know is since I was 12, 13 years old, I listened to Dana White do interviews and explain what he wanted in a fighter, and I’m that motherf*cker.”

In this recent interview Gaethje also enforced how loyal he is the UFC and hinted that he would be disappointed, hurt even, if that loyalty was not repaid in kind.

“If I get disrespected, it’s gonna be hurtful because I really bought into what [Dana] talks about. So it’ll hurt, because I feel like a company man from day one. I don’t ever want to go anywhere else, I don’t want to fight anywhere else. But my principles are the most important thing to me. We’ll see what happens.”

Gaethje came over to the UFC from WSOF in 2017. His debut came on the TUF: Redemption finale. There he knocked out Michael Johnson. After back-to-back stoppage losses to Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier (the first losses of his career), Gaethje rebounded with a four fight winning streak.

That streak saw him KO James Vick and Edson Barboza and then TKO Donald Cerrone. At UFC 249 last May Gaethje won the interim UFC lightweight title after dominating and eventually finishing Tony Ferguson.