Following Justin Gaethje’s quick, knockout win over Edson Barboza last month, the lightweight contender says Conor McGregor’s next fight “has” to be with him. But what are the odds of that match-up materializing?
Gaethje buzzed the MMA world yet again at UFC Philadelphia, by putting away the feared striker Barboza in the opening round. That victory followed Gaethje’s first round, KO victory over James Vick last year.
“This is the craziest weight class there is right now in the UFC,” Gaethje said. “I think it’s the one with the most opportunities to become a superstar. There’s so many fights right now, but Conor sounds like he’s coming back, so I’m the man. If he’s gonna fight somebody, it has to be me. That’s the one I want. Tony’s there but he’s gotta go back and get better so that leaves Conor and me.”
“F*ck, man, it’s the name of the game,” Gaethje said. “I want to fight him. I want to fight him in Ireland. I know it’s not gonna happen in Ireland but that’s my dream, to go over there and be in that sort of chaos. That’s what f*cking wakes me up every day.
“I’ll go out there and stand and knock him out. He wants to retire, I can help him on his way out.”
There you have it. Now, any big-time fan would obviously love to see this fight. From a style and entertainment perspective, it has ‘barnburner’ written all over it. But, is it a fight that could get McGregor back in the cage?
Well, due to Gaethje’s recent wins (and debate about the eye poke in the Barboza fight aside), “The Highlight’s” stock is pretty, ridiculously high right now. Maybe even more so than after his win over Michael Johnson back in 2017, which was when Gaethje remained undefeated.
So, it’s a fight that would sell well, and if the UFC was willing to put it in Ireland, then McGregor could very well be on board.
But, while Gaethje is a big name within the sport’s bubble, is he a big enough mainstream draw yet? Hard to say. For example, would it outsell McGregor – Nate Diaz III? Probably not, and that’s a fight McGregor recently said he believes must happen.
Then, of course, there’s the matter of the UFC signing McGregor to a new deal, and that’s apparently been problematic. McGregor wants equity in the UFC and so far, the company hasn’t been willing to do so.