ESPN reports that former interim UFC lightweight champion Justin Gaethje has signed a contract extension with the company. The extension comes after Gaethje, who is booked to fight Michael Chandler at UFC 268 on November 6, spent the previous year venting his frustration regarding his career trajectory and concerns that the UFC might be “punishing” him for his comments.
With ESPN Gaethje said we and UFC President Dana White are on good terms and that his previous frustrations were caused, in part, by what was happening in the UFC’s lightweight division. Chiefly, he said, he was annoyed that Charles Oliveira and Chandler got to fight for the vacant title in May.
“I was pissed off at the time,” he said. “I thought this was the most coveted title in the UFC when Khabib was around, and it turned into almost the laughingstock of the UFC overnight. When you have Charles Oliveira and Michael Chandler fighting each other for the title, to be the best — those two weren’t best. It was me and [Dustin] Poirier. That should have happened.”
Poirier is reportedly set to face Oliveira next for the title. Gaethje is confident that ‘The Diamond’ will win that bout. And he said he’d like to be Poirier’s first title defense.
One fighter Gaethje said he is not interested in is Conor McGregor. The American said that, at one point, it felt like it was inevitable that he and the Irishman would face-off. However, after McGregor’s losses to Poirier—and his broken leg—Gaethje thinks that contest is completely off the table.
“Zero percent [that fight happens],” he said. “I don’t think he’ll fight, if only once or twice [more] — and it won’t be against guys like me. It’ll be guys like Nate Diaz or Jorge Masvidal. Favorable matchups.”
Gaethje joined the UFC in 2017, coming over from WSOF where he held the lightweight title. His debut was a TKO win over Michael Johnson. That was followed by stoppage losses to Eddie Alvarez and then Dustin Poirier.
After those defeats Gaethje went on a four fight winning streak, stopping James Vick, Edson Barboza, Donald Cerrone and Tony Ferguson. The win over Ferguson earned Gaethje the interim lightweight title.
Gaethje’s most recent fight was against Khabib Nurmagomedov for the undisputed lightweight title. He lost that bout by technical submission.