Following the most chaotic week in UFC history heading into UFC 223 last week, the lightweight division was finally given a bit of clarity (a bit) when Khabib Nurmagomedov won the title over late replacement Al Iaquinta – his fifth possible opponent in a month.
That’s assuming that the oft-injured Nurmagomedov will defend the title somewhat regularly. Currently, he has strung together two dominant wins in relatively short order, with his victory over Iaquinta coming not even four months after his destruction of Edson Barboza at December 30’s UFC 219.
However, following Conor McGregor’s Brooklyn chaotic, violent outburst where he attacked ‘The Eagle’s’ bus with a metal dolly and was subsequently arrested on assault charges, it would seem a foregone conclusion that Khabib and McGregor square off in a grudge match sure to gain massive numbers in the pay-per-view arena. That would leave the lightweight division’s future once again on the shoulders of McGregor, who faces a court date and has seemed more interested in going off the rails than actually fighting as of late.
Yet that doesn’t seem to concern fan favorite lightweight Justin Gaethje, who squares off with Dustin Poirier in the main event of this weekend’s (Sat., April 14, 2018) UFC on FOX 29 from the Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona. During a recent pre-fight interview following the UFC on FOX 29 open workouts via MMA Fighting, ‘The Highlight’ said he thinks there’s is now a ‘more clear path’ to the top at 155 pounds:
“There is a more clear path, even though Khabib says he wants to go fight GSP, which is counterproductive to everything he talked sh*t to Conor about, or talked sh*t on Conor about. But other than that, yeah, it doesn’t matter. Tony (Ferguson), the winner of [Kevin Lee] and (Edson) Barboza [could be next in line for me], but it doesn’t matter — I’ve got to get past Poirier, who’s a very dangerous opponent, and I’d be a fool to look past him.”
As for McGregor, Gaethje said he hoped a scene such as the bus attack would never happen again, but wasn’t surprised considering he believes fighters may fight each other if put in close proximity to one another:
“There’s nothing really you can make of that. It’s crazy circumstances that we hope will never happen again, but you put a bunch of fighters in an arena and someone might fight each other.
“Conor’s going to get punished by paying millions of dollars to people, so that’s plenty of punishment. And I don’t want him to go anywhere, because like I said, I’m going to fight and claw my way to the championship. So either he’s there or Khabib’s there, it doesn’t matter.”
So while Dana White may have said McGregor’s attack was ‘the most disgusting thing he’s ever seen in the UFC,’ it seems his stance has predictably softened on his biggest star (huge surprise), and that became somewhat clear when the UFC essentially used the situation as promotion.
That suggests McGregor won’t be punished by the UFC even if he should be, but Gaethje is right in assuming that the most costly portion of the fallout will result from the lawsuits levied as the infamous Irishman by the injured parties.
How much last Thursday’s attack cost McGregor, and does he even care at this point?