While Justin Gaethje would love nothing more than to shut Conor McGregor up, his priority remains fighting Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Gaethje is expected to face Nurmagomedov in a lightweight title unification fight following his impressive TKO win over Tony Ferguson earlier this month at UFC 249 to win the interim strap. That fight is expected to take place in September.
However, Gaethje has since been called out by McGregor who believes “The Eagle” won’t end up fighting on that date. Given the current situation and health of Nurmagomedov’s father as well, it certainly could be a possibility.
Of course, that’s not the end of the world for “The Highlight” as a fight with McGregor in the meantime would not only potentially earn him a bigger payday, but also give him greater recognition in the mainstream world, especially with a win.
However, that’s not the kind of fighter Gaethje is.
“I do. I want to shut him up,” Gaethje said on the Joe Rogan Experience about fighting McGregor. “I would love that. I really would. I could fight him right now if I wanted to. Everyone is going to say that I’m lying and if it was there, I would take it. Daniel Cormier said that the other day — I’m not that fighter.
“For one, I have an opportunity to do something that can be unmatched in the history of our sport. To go in there, to come off the circumstances to beat Tony like I did, go beat Khabib, go beat Conor — that’s legendary. … When I go beat Khabib and then I beat Conor, what run in the history of the sport has been better? Coming off two losses, getting counted out? That’s what I’m here for. I can inspire the world.”
Gaethje acknowledges that business-wise, fighting McGregor would be the right move especially during a global pandemic. That said, he believes he could make even more money fighting the Irishman if he did it after inflicting Nurmagomedov’s first-ever career defeat.
But even if he doesn’t end up facing the former two-weight champion, Gaethje won’t be too bothered as there are only two opponents he is really targeting before calling it a day in his career.
“Business-wise, the smart move could be right now to fight Conor because obviously that’s a lot of money,” Gaethje said. “But I make more money when I beat Khabib, and then fight him. And if Conor is not there, I’ll fight [Dustin] Poirier. He’s not on my list, Conor. Khabib and Poirier are the two on my list right now. If I fight them two with good pay days, then I’m good.”
As Gaethje has said in the past, he’s only in this for the money. Fighting McGregor, though, means a lot more money.