Days after UFC president Dana White announced his expectation for Khabib Nurmagomedov’s return to the Octagon at Fight Island this summer, the champ and his presumed challenger have made it clear they’re looking toward a showdown in September.
“We’re talking about doing Gaethje vs. Khabib in September. Cause I talked to Khabib yesterday and he said September, ‘I’m ready to go in September,'” White said.
That’s good news for Justin Gaethje, the interim lightweight champion, who just days ago unleashed a five-round beatdown on Tony Ferguson to earn a TKO victory. The shift in timeline allows Gaethje more time to rest, recover, and prepare for his toughest task to date: slowing the unbeaten Nurmagomedov.
Despite his verbal altercation with Conor McGregor recently, the timeline adjustment won’t be opening any doors for the former two-division champion to get an expedited title shot.
“I can pick between Khabib and Conor right now. If I wanted to fight Conor right now, I could. Believe me. Why wouldn’t [UFC president] Dana White put that together? But that’s not the fight I want,” Gaethje told ESPN. “I have nothing to say to him. You don’t get to fight me next unless there are crazy circumstances, where Khabib cannot fight.”
For now, Gaethje will wait on Nurmagomedov for a title unification showdown. Should Gaethje win though, McGregor may be next in line.
“I’m here to make money,” Gaethje said. “When I beat Khabib, I will fight Conor because I’m trying to cash in.”