Former interim UFC lightweight champion, Justin Gaethje will conceivably attempt to go one better in his next Octagon walk and achieve undisputed champion status. And with plans in place to once again challenge for promotional gold off the back of a splendid UFC 268 outing — Gaethje has claimed Dominance MMA stablemate, Islam Makhachev can be the first challenge to his throne.
Returning at UFC 268 at the beginning of this month, Gaethje opened the main card against former three-time Bellator MMA lightweight champion, Michael Chandler — likely earning his slot as the next challenger to lightweight spoils with a unanimous decision victory.
However, firstly, reigning lightweight best, Charles Oliveira is already stated to make his first defense of the lightweight crown on December 11. at UFC 269 — taking on former interim gold holder, Dustin Poirier in a headlining bout.
Off the back of Gaethje’s victory over Sanford MMA staple, Chandler, speculation began to mount regarding the division’s upper echelon contenders, and who could possibly challenge for gold following Poirier.
Gaethje, who currently resides at #2 in the official lightweight pile, sits above both the #3 ranked, Beneil Dariush, and the streaking, #4 rated, abovementioned contender, Makhachev, however, the trio have all been linked to potential lightweight title challenges in their next respective Octagon walks.
Justin Gaethje offers to draw Islam Makhachev in his first lightweight title defense if he wins the crown next year
Arizona native, Gaethje, however, has outlined his firm plans to challenge for lightweight spoils in his next outing, but is willing to offer Makhachev a shot at lightweight gold — as he believes he would dispatch either Oliveira or past-opponent, Poirier.
“I’ll let him [Islam Makhachev] go first if he gets his spot,” Gaethje told MMA Fighting. “I’ll beat one of these guys [Charles Oliveira or Dustin Poirier] and then I’ll allow him to go first. F*ck yeah, I’m looking forward to that.“
“War is coming,” Gaethje claimed. “He [Islam Makhachev] has to know one thing, f*cking war is coming. So bring it.“
American Kickboxing Academy mainstay, Makhachev has campaigned for a title shot off the back of an impressive trio of submission victories this year, including an arm-triangle win over Drew Dober, a rear-naked choke stoppage of Thiago Moises, and an October kimura stoppage over Dan Hooker at UFC 267.