Justin Gaethje is currently the odd man out amongst the Lightweight elite.
The top crop of contenders are all set to collide before 2022 caps off. First, at UFC 280 on Oct. 22, 2022, a champion will be crowned when Charles Oliveira and Islam Makhachev battle over the vacant title. Earlier that night, surging top contenders, Beneil Dariush and Mateusz Gamrot, go at it in additional 155-pound action.
Gaethje is looking forward to that likely-thrilling night of action like most, but for his immediate future, he sees UFC 281 on Nov. 12, 2022, as more of an opportunity to springboard off.
“There’s pretty big fights going on,” Gaethje told MMA Mania. “The championship, Beneil and Gamrot, you got Chandler and Poirier. Someone’s gotta fight the winners and losers of all these fights. I don’t think I should fight the winner of the title fight but I can fight the winner of any other of those fighters. I don’t want to fight Beneil.
“Ideally, Poirier beats Chandler, I’d like to fight Poirier,” he added. “I mean, he beat me. That’s one win I’d like to get back. It was Fight of the Year, Fight of the Decade — Fight of a Couple Years, probably. That was a hell of a fight. That’s ideal.”
“The Highlight” recently had surgery to rebreak and fix his nose, which had been bothering him for his entire mixed martial arts (MMA) career. Despite losing to the aforementioned Oliveira in his last time out at UFC 274 in April 2022, Gaethje credits the Brazilian for the assist.
If Gaethje can land a Poirier rematch for his next outing, fans would be foolish to object to their April 2018 instant classic. Poirier scored the victory via fourth round technical knockout.
“He’s ranked No. 1 or No. 2,” Gaethje said. “I need two-three wins to get back to the title shot so that would be ideal. I told them I’d be ready next year so we’ll see how it goes.”