Michael Bisping responds to Justin Gaethje: ‘He deserves a f****** title fight but right now you’re booked against Max Holloway’   

Michael Bisping gladly gives his opinion, but that doesn’t mean he’s making any decisions for the UFC.

Case in point, the former middleweight champion threw out a suggestion after UFC 299 that perhaps Dustin Poirier should slot right into a title fight against Islam Makhachev following a stunning knockout of Benoit Saint Denis. That didn’t sit well with Justin Gaethje, who fired back on social media when he replied “Bisping talking bollocks” after previously knocking out Poirier this past July.

In response, Bisping made it clear that he doesn’t influence UFC when it comes to who is or isn’t getting a title fight. But Bisping also reminds Gaethje that he can’t get booked against Makhachev right now because he’s already scheduled against Max Holloway at UFC 300.

“Justin Gaethje kind of came at me on Twitter and I understand,” Bisping told MMA Fighting. “No. 1, I’m not the matchmaker. I was just throwing it out there saying, wow, with that performance and the way that fight went down with Dustin Poirier, I see a reason and why he might get that opportunity. But the main reason I said that was because Justin Gaethje is fighting a featherweight. So right now, you’re booked up.

“Islam wants to be busy. Apparently still wants to fight three times this year. If he wasn’t booked to fight Max Holloway, I would say, well, that doesn’t make sense, Justin Gaethje’s the guy. But he’s booked, simple as that. And guess what? You’re fighting someone that isn’t named Islam Makhachev. You’re fighting someone that isn’t even a 155er. That’s just the landscape that we’re in because of a contract that he signed. Nothing to do with me.”

Timing often trumps rankings when it comes to UFC title fights, and that may end up as the biggest obstacle in Gaethje’s path back to a championship. Rumors swirled that Makhachev could potentially fight as early as UFC 302 on June 1 or possibly UFC 303 on June 29.

With Gaethje scheduled for a five-round showdown against Holloway — a fighter who has never been finished by strikes — the odds are good that those two won’t walk away unscathed from their battle at UFC 300. Turning around and fighting again as quickly as six weeks later just seems unrealistic, but anything is possible.

None of that even matters if Gaethje doesn’t win, so Bisping stands by his pitch that perhaps Poirier gets that opportunity since he’s healthy, ready, and available without a fight already booked.

“I kind of just threw [Dustin Poirier getting a title shot] out there — maybe he should fight Islam. Because Justin is fighting Max Holloway,” Bisping said. “Yeah, sure, Justin should be next but it’s not guaranteed that [first] Justin wins — he probably will most likely, but you can’t underestimate Max, and secondly, you can’t guarantee that he’s not going to be banged up, he’s not going to have an injury, he’s not going to need a little bit of time off.

“So I think Justin, if he wins, of course he’s the guy, but in the interim, if he’s not well enough or because he’s already got a fight lined up, put in Dustin Poirier. Because I think everybody would love to see that and I think Islam wants to be busy.”

Of course, Gaethje’s bigger problem might be UFC CEO Dana White declaring that a separate lightweight fight at UFC 300 between Charles Oliveira and Arman Tsarukyan would determine the next No. 1 contender in the division.

Bisping understands that’s a good problem to have for the division because there’s a growing list of potential candidates to challenge Makhachev. It doesn’t make things any easier on Gaethje but that’s just how the sport goes sometimes.

“Charles Oliveira-Arman Tsarukyan, they’re still the No. 1 contender, they’re still the next guy,” Bisping explained. “Let’s just say Dustin does fight [Islam]. If Justin wins, Justin is next and then the winner of Arman Tsarukyan-Charles Oliveira, they solidify their spot as the next guy. The problem is in this sport, they might have to wait around for a little bit, and if you wait on the sidelines, sometimes you get forgotten about.

“I guess the reality is in hindsight, maybe — I don’t mean this as any kind of insult at all — maybe Justin shouldn’t have taken that fight against Max. If he hadn’t taken that, I think without a shadow of a doubt, he would be next. But he wants to stay busy, he wants to stay active. He wants to take on the legendary Max Holloway, so good for him.”

Truth be told, Bisping can’t say with any certainty what the UFC will ultimately decide. He can only pitch an idea and give his opinion on what makes the most sense, but White and the powers-that-be at UFC will really be the ones to determine Gaethje’s future.

“Justin, f****** relax, I’m a fan of your work,” Bisping said “I didn’t mean any disrespect and I wish him all the best and he deserves a f****** title fight. But right now you’re booked against Max Holloway, and until that business is done and until you know that you’re healthy, you’re not going to get booked in another fight. That goes for all of them.

“People think I have all the answers and I know all the inside information. I’m just a knucklehead from England that’s still lucky enough to have a job. I show up, I do my job and I give my opinions. It doesn’t mean those opinions are true.”

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