Gaethje is looking to return to action in the first quarter of 2023 after having successful nose surgery over the summer. In an interview with MMA Fighting, he was asked about the potential of a matchup between two of the most exciting fighters in the history of the sport once McGregor is ready to return following a nasty leg injury suffered against Dustin Poirier at UFC 264 in July 2021.
In Gaethje’s eyes, McGregor had the chance to face him already, but it never came to fruition as McGregor went on to face Donald Cerrone instead after more than a year away from the sport.
“If everybody would just remember correctly, I fought Cowboy, I beat him and then he fought Cowboy right after that [at UFC 246 in January 2020],” Gaethje told MMA Fighting. “I was primed and ready to go. It sounds to me like he’s off taking steroids right now. He hasn’t been drug tested by USADA in quite some time. I’m looking for fair competition.”
Gaethje recently teamed up with the UFC, Modelo, and Rebuilding Together for the promotion’s gym revitalization program in Denver. For the program’s second gym renovation, Topeira Boxing Club was chosen after local trainer and owner Joaquin Romero was tragically killed in a hit and run accident in February.
Now, his father Romero’s Oscar is running the location to keep his son’s dream alive, and through the program, Topeira Boxing Gym received new boxing rings, punching bags, windows, security doors, electrical outlets, additional mirrors, coat of paint, lockers and storage shelves, and more, which is something Gaethje was proud to be a part of in his local area, and hopes to continue to be involved with the program.
As far as his fighting career goes, Gaethje is certainly open to fighting McGregor, but he wants to have an even playing field if what he believes about the former two-division champion is true.
“If he’s on steroids, then give me steroids and let’s go, I’m down with that,” Gaethje said. “My health is my biggest factor. I have never taken a performance-enhancing drug, and I do not want to fight people that are taking performance enhancing drugs.”
MMA Fighting reached out to McGregor’s management team Paradigm Sports, who declined to comment on Gaethje’s thoughts.
For Gaethje, McGregor isn’t even a concern. He’s focused on getting back to the road that could lead him to another lightweight title opportunity.
But he understands the questions about McGregor will likely keep coming up.
“I don’t even know how it works, I don’t even know how steroids work,” Gaethje said. “I’m sure there’s windows, I’m sure it will [eventually] be fine, I’m sure he can come back and be clean, but the fact that he hasn’t been drug tested tells me he’s taking steroids, whether it’s to heal his leg or not.
“If I break my leg, I’m not taking steroids to heal my leg. He had the chance to fight me, he didn’t fight me. He picked ‘Cowboy,’ so whatever. Who knows? Maybe. I’m sure he’s much more confident now that he can beat me, he certainly didn’t take the fight then because he wasn’t confident, so maybe he’s more confident now and more willing to dance.”