Since his professional debut in 2011, Justin Gaethje fought at least twice inside a calendar year. But for 2021, “The Highlight” is making an exception.
The 32-year-old former UFC interim champion is set to take on Michael Chandler at UFC 268 on November 6th. It will be 13 months since his UFC 254 title fight loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov.
As the number two-ranked Gaethje recently explained to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, the layoff was mostly because of a lack of opponent options, along with his understandable hesitance to fight someone outside of the top five.
But he also revealed that his team was planning for a “fun fight” against a former champion.
“Max is probably my favorite fighter to watch. I honestly don’t want to fight the guy, ever,” Gaethje candidly said. “But I needed to put myself in the title picture. And he jumps weight classes.
“I wasn’t sure if he was gonna… with Brian Ortega (and) Volkanovski being tied up with the Ultimate Fighter, I thought maybe he might want to come up to lightweight and try his hand, with Khabib being gone at the lightweight title.
“That was an option at the time but didn’t work out.”
Holloway is optimistically slated to headline the UFC’s November 13 card against Yair Rodriguez.