Justin Gaethje Makes Compelling Argument For Scraps With Tony Ferguson or Conor McGregor

The UFC’s championship picture may be much more clear, following UFC 236, but what about the other top contenders? Well, Justin Gaethje’s made a compelling case for bouts with either Tony Ferguson or Conor McGregor.

As you surely know by now, Dustin Poirier laid claim to the interim lightweight title on Saturday, by earning a thrilling, decision win over Max Holloway. Heading into the card, the expectation was that the winner would (should) advance to a bout with the champ, Khabib Nurmagomedov. Following the event, Dana White confirmed that would indeed be the case (rather than say, McGregor jumping the queue for an immediate rematch with Khabib).

But what about the rest of the top contenders? Well, prior to UFC 236, Gaethje made the following pitch for fights with Ferguson or McGregor (quotes via MMA Junkie):

“Who (expletive) knows what’s happening with Conor?” Gaethje said, after noting that he believes a bout with Ferguson or McGregor makes sense. “But they either take him out of the rankings if he’s retired, or they keep him in the rankings and he has to fight somebody. If that’s me, cool. If that’s not me, cool, but there has to be some type of structure to what’s going on here. We can’t just keep floating around.”

“I want to know what my path is, and you can’t do that by saying I’m retired and being in the rankings and being ranked ahead of me,” Gaethje said. “If you’re ranked ahead of me, you’re fighting for the title. He doesn’t deserve a title shot right now, so therefore it’s me or its Tony, and he has to pick one of us to fight.”

Yup. Hard to argue with Gaethje here. If McGregor is focused on earning a rematch with Khabib, then, from a meritocratic perspective, he should be pushing for bouts with either Ferguson or Gaethje. McGregor has expressed interest in a third fight with Nate Diaz, but, should winning that trilogy position him for a title fight? Business considerations aside? No.

So, depending on when Ferguson is ready to return, and if McGregor wants to make a move for a title fight in say, 2020, then Gaethje could be in luck here. Now, if Ferguson is ready to come back soon, and if McGregor was down for a bout with “El Cucuy”, then chances are the UFC will go in that direction. If McGregor does opt for say, the rubber match with Diaz, then Gaethje – Ferguson also makes a ton of sense.

The other x-factor here is the May 4th fight between Al Iaquinta and Donald Cerrone. If either man scores a big win that night, and the victor emerges healthy, then they could also be in line for a title shot eliminator. Depending on how things shake out.

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