The saga between Justin Gaethje and Islam Makhachev continues.
One of the biggest debates in the world of mixed martial arts has been who deserves to fight for the lightweight title next — Gaethje or Makhachev.
Gaethje is the #2 contender and recently returned to the win column with an impressive unanimous decision victory over Michael Chandler at UFC 268 earlier this month.
Makhachev, meanwhile, is on a nine-fight winning streak after defeating Dan Hooker on short notice at UFC 267 late last month. While his win streak certainly makes him deserving, he also lacks a top-five opponent in his resume.
That is one reason why Gaethje has been adamant that he deserves the next shot which even led to a little back-and-forth with Khabib Nurmagomedov who was defending Makhachev.
However, “The Highlight” still remains adamant as he told Makhachev to do his job and fight a top-five opponent. One who happens to not be busy is Beneil Dariush who is the #3 lightweight in the world.
“Makhachev fought No. 14, went to No. 5 and fought a late replacement in Dan Hooker,” Gaethje said on the “UFC Unfiltered” podcast (via MMA Junkie). “It wasn’t Dan Hooker on a full camp. It does not count as much, but still, it’s two top 15 guys, none in the top five, only one in the top 10. That’s not how this sh*t works.
“Do your f*cking job, fight these guys, and Beneil Dariush is right here. And I like the dude, he’s my friend so you know I’m just going to jump over this man and expect to get a title shot when the No. 3 guy is Beneil Dariush. Handle that. That has to be handled.”
Makhachev Ready For War With Justin Gaethje
In another recent interview, Gaethje notably claimed that if he were to become champion, he would give Makhachev the first shot if he’s earned it by then.
“I’ll let him go first if he gets his spot. I’ll beat one of these guys (Poirier or Oliveira) and then I’ll let him go first. F*ck yeah, I’m looking forward to that. War’s coming. He wants to know one thing, f*cking war is coming, so bring it.”
Makhachev caught wind of those comments and responded on Wednesday.
“So we’ll go to war ⚔️”
So we’ll go to war ⚔️ pic.twitter.com/xIlkkWAjWI
— Makhachev Islam (@MAKHACHEVMMA) November 17, 2021
For now, though?
Makhachev vs. Dariush could be the best option while Gaethje goes on to challenge the winner of Charles Oliveira vs. Dustin Poirier which takes place December 11 at UFC 269.