Current UFC Lightweight Rankings:
Champ Khabib Nurmagomedov
1. Tony Ferguson
2. Dustin Poirier
3. Conor McGregor
4. Justin Gaethje
5. Donald Cerrone
6. Paul Felder
7. Dan Hooker
The champ fights #1 Ferguson in the main event of UFC 249 on 4/18 in Brooklyn, NY. McGegregor and Cerrone fight in the main event of UFC 246 on 1/18 in Las Vegas, NV; bout will be at welterweight because MMA. Felder and Hooker fight in the main event of ESPN+ 26 on 2/23 in Auckland, New Zealand. Dustin Poirier is recovering from surgery.
Only Justin Gaethje has no fight scheduled. "The Highliight" is on a three-fight win streak, stopping James Vick, Edson Barboza, and Cowboy Cerrone, all in Round 1, earning a performance bonus in each. In fact, Gaethje has won a performance bonus in each of his six UFC fights.
During a recent appearance on The Luke Thomas Show, Gaethje said he's waiting for a title shot.
“I got the winner of the fight in April, as far as I’m concerned," said Gaethje, as tranascribed by Jed Meshew
for MMA Fighting
. "Three knockouts in a row. I’m not sure what else I need to do? If there’s someone else in the way, then I would happily go through them, but I don’t think there is.
“So the winner of that is looking most likely. I’m planning on trying to maybe push myself to be ready for around that date just in case something happens but it’s super hard for me to get up for a training camp, to get up for a fight when I don’t actually have an opponent. So I don’t know if that’s gonna happen.”
“Ultimately I got into this for one reason and that’s to fight for a world championship. So if that’s at the end of the road, then absolutely. I don’t want to [wait]. I’m not getting any younger, but I want to fight for the world title. I’m not going to be a fool, I’m going to make smart business decisions from here on out. Not strictly but I mean right now, three wins in a row, three knockouts, three first-round finishes in a row, so that’s what I’m looking for.”
"I think the fact that [McGregor] is fighting at 170 just takes it off the table that the next fight is - who knows? Khabib stated publicly that he won’t fight the guy. I really - he might fight GSP after this - I really don’t know. There’s so many scenarios that could happen right now but in my mind, Conor could fight Cowboy but if he wants to fight for a world title he has to get another win that’s in the lightweight division. It’s as easy as that. It could be me, it could be Poirier. It doesn’t matter which one but it has to happen.”
“I want the winner of Tony and Khabib. When I fought [McGregor] was retired. After I fought he was not retired so that’s why I started calling him out, because that was the most direct path to the title shot. And to avoid him trying to fight somebody else and try to jump past me. I’m under contract, I’m not gonna fight him for any more money. He’s not a champion, I’m not fighting for a world title so I was going to fight him for whatever money is in my contract for the next fight. Doesn’t matter if I fight him, if I fight Poirier, if I fight Hooker, it’ll be the same amount of money. So that is irrelevant. I wanted to fight him because that’s the most direct path to the lightweight championship.”
“If they cover the cost of the training camp, then I’m in [as back up at UFC 249,” said Gaethje. “I need to get in shape anyways, so it couldn’t hurt. But again, you know what it is. Financially, it’s a commitment to train for a fight, especially for a fight like that. I wouldn’t be against it. Ultimately, I want to fight Khabib. I have to fight Khabib. If that’s ultimately how it goes down, I will only be mad at myself if I’m not ready for it.”