Former interim UFC lightweight champion, Justin ‘The Highlight’ Gaethje believes, should he overcome one-time vacant lightweight title challenger, ‘Iron’ Michael Chandler in their highly-anticipated UFC 268 matchup next month, he will fight for the lightweight title against either Charles Oliveira or past-foe, Dustin Poirier next.
Making his first outing in 13 months when he draws Chandler on November 6. at Madison Square Garden in a fan-favorite main card bout, Gaethje looks to rebound to the winner’s enclosure, following a lightweight unification loss at UFC 254 on ‘Fight Island’.
The Aurora native headlined the Abu Dhabi, UAE card against the now-retired former lightweight best, Khabib Nurmagomedov, dropping a rather one-sided second round triangle loss.
Featuring twice under the promotion’s banner last year, Gaethje replaced the aforenoted, Khabib at UFC 249 in May in a doomed pairing with former interim lightweight champion, Tony Ferguson. Handing the Oxnard native a damaging fifth round knockout defeat, Gaethje snapped the former titleholder’s division-tying 12 fight-winning record, as well as lifting the interim crown.
While he draws Chandler, a former three-time Bellator MMA lightweight champion in November, the lightweight championship is on the line the following month in the main event of UFC 269 — with reigning champion, Oliveira drawing another former interim gold holder, Poirier. And according to Gaethje, should he halt the resurgence of Chandler, he will fight for an undisputed title next.
“Absolutely, I go out there and get the W on November 6. and I will be fighting for the title next,” Gaethje told The Schmo during a recent interview. “I’ll be fighting the winner of (Dustin) Poirier and (Charles) Oliveira, that’s definitely the plan.”
“#1 fought #5, #3 fought #4, and if you were #2, you got f*cked,” Gaethje explained. “It just so happened that my name was next to that #2 spot, so it is what it is. The opportunity is ahead of me to get what I want, so I gotta capitalize.”
As for how a pairing with Chandler would play out come November, Gaethje believes one of the two will be rendered unconscious, however, didn’t shy away from the possibility of Chandler utilizing his wrestling background.
“The dude (Chander) comes to fight,” Gaethje said. “He loves fighting just as much as me. Styles make matchups and this is a stylistic matchup for the fans. Someone’s gonna get knocked out. Unless he turns into a b*tch and tries to turn this into a wrestling match the whole time. He’s talking about timid souls taking a step backward. He’s gonna be a timid soul when he starts shooting for legs because he doesn’t like the power. That’s what I think.”
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