Justin Gaethje was left without an opponent in the wake of Khabib Nurmagomedov's retirement from the UFC being made official a few days ago.
A series of fights in the lightweight division were recently booked, including a title bout between No. 3-ranked Charles Oliveira and No. 4-ranked Michael Chandler with the now-vacated 155-pound belt on the line.
Some have questioned the booking of the lightweight championship fight, with Michael Chandler having won just one bout in the UFC and Justin Gaethje still outranking him in the division.
'The Highlight' himself is not sure about why he was overlooked when the lightweight fights were being made. After the announcement of the title fight between Charles Oliveira and Michael Chandler, Justin Gaethje took to Twitter to express his surprise about recent developments.
While speaking to Full Reptile in a recent interview, Justin Gaethje said that he is afraid he has rubbed someone in the UFC the wrong way. According to Gaethje, this might be why he getting this sort of treatment.
He also revealed that it would be hurtful if he was being disrespected by UFC or Dana White over something trivial since he has been nothing but a 'company man' from day one.
"Who knows man? I can't talk about it a lot right now. Who knows, maybe I p*ssed someone off. I don't know. All I know is since I was 12-13 years old, I listened to Dana White do his interviews, and explain what he wanted in a fighter," said Gaethje.
"And I'm that motherf***er. I know if I get disrespected, it's gonna be hurtful because I really bought into what that man talked about... so yeah. It'll hurt. I feel like I've been a company man from day one. I don't ever want to go anywhere else, I don't ever want to fight anywhere else. But my principles are the most important thing to me. So, we'll see what happens," said Gaethje.
Islam Makhachev open to a fight against Justin Gaethje
Other than the title fight, the UFC lightweight division has seen a number of other important fights booked as well.
Top-ranked contender Dustin Poirier is reportedly locked into a trilogy with Conor McGregor. Meanwhile, Tony Ferguson, after losing two back-to-back fights against Charles Oliveira and Justin Gaethje himself, is booked for a fight against Beneil Dariush.
Rising lightweight and Khabib Nurmagomedov's close friend, Islam Makhachev, has expressed his willingness to fight Justin Gaethje. However, Makhachev believes the UFC is more likely to book a fight with him and Rafael dos Anjos.
"Yes, it’s possible. Justin and I know each other but it’s not like we’re friends. It’s possible. He’s free right now. Why not? I’d love to fight him," Islam Makhachev recently told MMA Fighting.
After his loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 254, Justin Gaethje will need at least one win to get himself back in title contention. However, a win against him would mean a huge leap up the rankings for Islam Makhachev.