Morning Report: Justin Gaethje was ‘really confident’ his next fight would be Islam Makhachev

Justin Gaethje will need at least one more win before he gets another shot at undisputed UFC lightweight gold.

The UFC was kind enough to put together an unofficial tournament of sorts at the big upcoming UFC 300 spectacle event on April 13. Although it doesn’t make too much sense with the status of the current lightweight champion Islam Makhachev in question, the fights between Gaethje and Max Holloway, and Charles Oliveira vs. Arman Tsarukyan are the highest levels of entertainment a fan could ask for in MMA.

Both matchups came as surprises when announced but it was more of Gaethje’s that caught the attention. The current BMF champion will defend the gimmick title against featherweight great Holloway after he seemed to be holding out for his undisputed clash with Makhachev. As there was a gap of time between both fights getting made official, Gaethje thought everything was coming together as he hoped.

“You always think it’s gonna go one way and you can never guess what’s gonna happen with UFC,” Gaethje told Kevin Iole. “I was expecting once the [Charles] Oliveira and [Arman] Tsarukyan fight got announced — really confident that I was gonna get the Makhachev fight because I figured, obviously, there’s nobody else to fight him.

“He was tweeting that he wanted to fight me, but you know, I don’t know what’s going on. Maybe some injury or something. He’s not gonna fight until June or July, I guess.”

The freshness of a Makhachev vs. Gaethje fight appeared to play in “The Highlight’s” favor. Makhachev already holds wins over both Oliveira and Makhachev, albeit the latter of which took place in April 2019, and noted how he doesn’t want a rematch next.

Makhachev vs. Oliveira 2 was originally supposed to happen at UFC 294 this past October until Oliveira was injured out of the bout. Despite the change, the champion still wound up with a rematch when current featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski stepped in. Before Makhachev went 2-0 against “The Great,” Gaethje also participated in a sequel when he knocked out Dustin Poirier in round two of UFC 291’s main event in July 2023.

The Poirier win earned Gaethje the BMF title and what he thought would be that elusive third-career undisputed lightweight title shot. If it wasn’t that, this Holloway title defense was the best consolation, says the 35-year-old.

“I was under the impression that if not for sure a title eliminator that the fight with Dustin Poirier was as much a title eliminator as the Tsarukyan and Oliveira fight is,” Gaethje said. “Now, me fighting on the same card as those guys, I’m gonna be obviously above them, all four of us, me, Max, Tsarukyan, Oliveira, we all got a chance to stand out.

“They line me up with Makhachev, that’s best-case scenario. Second-best scenario is I get to fight for it and that’s the scenario I’m in. I get to go in there, I get to stand out. There’s gonna be two contenders coming out that night, so we’ll see what happens after that.”

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Proper juicy juice boy.



I really think whoever is the most dominant winner between the two lightweight contender fights at UFC 300 will be next for Islam. That is unless Dana is adamant about giving it to Oliveira or Arman, for whatever reason.

Happy Friday, everyone. Enjoy the last weekend of January. It flew on by… Thanks for reading!


Who has the best chance of facing Islam Makhachev with a win at UFC 300?

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    Charles Oliveira

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    Arman Tsarukyan

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