While nothing has been decided regarding the next UFC lightweight title fight, Justin Gaethje appears to be one of the leading contenders for a showdown with Islam Makhachev.
Gaethje, a former interim champion, seemingly secured a third crack at the undisputed belt this past July in Salt Lake City, where he knocked out Dustin Poirier in their rematch to win the ceremonial ‘BMF’ strap.
With a short turnaround for last month’s UFC 294 pay-per-view in Abu Dhabi, Charles Oliveira secured a rematch with Makhachev instead before Alexander Volkanovski filled in when “Do Bronx” withdrew on late notice.
Following the Dagestani’s first-round knockout of the Australian, Oliveira has called for his original second showdown with Makhachev to be rebooked. But he seems to be battling “The Highlight” for that spot, with Gaethje claiming “I’m next” on social media.
Previously, the ‘BMF’ titleholder has fallen short of the throne against Makhachev’s mentor, undefeated former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.
While that result has left many predicting déjà vu should Gaethje secure an opportunity at the belt, one prominent MMA coach sees a potential collision with Makhachev going differently.
Tim Welch Gives Gaethje A Chance Of Upsetting Makhachev
During an episode of his TimboSugarShow alongside UFC Bantamweight Champion Sean O’Malley, coach Tim Welch assessed how Gaethje would fare opposite Makhachev inside the Octagon.
Contrary to popular belief, the martial arts trainer dismissed the notion that the reigning lightweight kingpin would dominate “The Highlight.” In fact, Welch is even giving Gaethje a chance of stopping Makhachev.
“Everyone thinks Justin Gaethje would get ran through,” Welch said. “I don’t think he would, dude. Because they talk about Gaethje, when he fought Khabib, he got there (Abu Dhabi) 10 days before that fight and just everything was wrong. Gaethje’s a different dude… Khabib said he knew that Justin got there (late), and he’s been through that time travel multiple times. He knew that was just gonna ruin him.
“This Gaethje now, versus Islam, in Vegas or something. I wouldn’t be that surprised if Gaethje knocked him out,” Welch added.
Whether or not Gaethje has the chance to prove Welch correct next remains to be seen. Regardless, the ‘BMF’ champ has outlined his willingness to wait for a possible second dance between Makhachev and Oliveira to play out before cashing in on his shot.
— Justin Gaethje 🇺🇸 (@Justin_Gaethje) October 21, 2023
- Read Also: Chael Sonnen Outlines ‘Only Reason’ He Is Against Charles Oliveira Getting The Next Shot At Islam Makhachev
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