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Manager: Justin Gaethje likely to return ‘at the beginning of next year’ against a big name

Ali Abdelaziz gives an update on former interim UFC lightweight champion Justin Gaethje.

Fans hoping to see Justin Gaethje back in the UFC anytime soon are going to have to wait a little longer as Ali Abdelaziz claims ‘The Highlight’ will likely be sidelined for the rest of the year after suffering a ‘busted nose’ in his stoppage defeat to Charles Oliveira this past May.

Abdelaziz, who manages Gaethje and several other fighters at Dominance MMA, claims the former interim UFC lightweight champion is still recovering from injury and hasn’t resumed sparring yet, recounting that he had to stop his client from further injuring himself in training last week.

Abdelaziz believes Gaethje will return ‘at the beginning of next year’ against a high-profile opponent, teasing a possible lightweight showdown with UFC superstar Conor McGregor, who is also recovering from a broken leg.

“He’s good, man. Justin Gaethje, we’re probably going to see him at the beginning of next year. His nose is still… yesterday I had to stop him from training. He tried to grapple and I jumped in. I was like ‘Stop.’ His nose is not healed,” Abdelaziz told ESPN’s Brett Okamoto during UFC 278 fight week (h/t MMA News). “I would love to see him fight Conor McGregor when he comes back, or some big fights. This is what he’s looking for. He’s not going to be there for some guys to make a name off him.”

Gaethje is 2-2 in his last four fights, with two title defeats to Khabib Nurmagomedov and Charles Oliveira and two Fight of the Night victories over Tony Ferguson and Michael Chandler. He is currently #3 in the UFC lightweight rankings and is considered one of the most exciting fighters in the promotion.