Former interim lightweight champion, Justin Gaethje claims fellow former interim gold holder, Dustin Poirier turned down an offer to coach on The Ultimate Fighter 31 against him earlier this year, as he now sets sights on a title outing against current undisputed champion, Islam Makhachev.

Gaethje, the current #3 ranked lightweight contender, most recently featured at UFC 286 back in March in London, landing a majority decision victory over Rafael Fiziev in London to retain his rank in the top-3 of the division.

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Justin Gaethje initially weighed up a potential rematch with Dustin Poirier

In the immediate aftermath of his victory against Fiziev, Gaethje noted his interest in a potential title-eliminator rematch against Poirier this summer, however, the Arizona native claims the Lafayette native turned down the opportunity to serve as an opposing coach against him on TUF 31

“Before I signed the [Rafael] Fiziev fight, they [the UFC] asked if I wanted to do The Ultimate Fighter with [Dustin] Poirier and he said no,” Justin Gaethje told Daniel Cormier during a recent interview. “I don’t blame him. I wouldn’t do it if I was him, when you got that much money. You’re gonna pay me $80,000 to go f*cking six weeks away from my family? No thanks.” 

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And despite noting his interest in a potential summer rematch with Poirier, Gaethje has now claimed that a title fight against Dominance MMA stablemate, Makhachev is a fight he is pursuing next.

“I’d rather have a championship fight,” Justin Gaethje explained. [Transcribed by MiddleEasy)

Competing for undisputed lightweight gold back in May of last year in his native Arizona, Gaethje suffered a one-sided opening round rear-naked choke submission loss to former undisputed champion, Charles Oliveira in ‘The Copper State’. 

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Gaethje had previously failed to unify the lightweight titles against Makahchev’s coach and training partner, Khabib Nurmagomedov in 2019, also dropping a second round submission loss courtesy of a triangle choke. 

Aspiring mixed martial arts reporter based in Ireland. Follow along at @Ross_Markey on Twitter for all the latest news, fight announcements, opinion, and feature pieces.