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Justin Gaethje: Conor McGregor Still Needs to Get Through Him or Dustin Poirier (And Donald Cerrone) to Earn Title Shot

Since it's been confirmed that Donald Cerrone and Conor McGregor are going to battle at UFC 246, some have opined that the latter could secure a shot at the 155 title that night. But, according to Justin Gaethje, McGregor will still have some work to do befor that happens.

Conor McGregor is finally set to fight again, as he’ll battle Donald Cerrone at UFC 246 in January. Due to McGregor’s fame, there’s been talk that the star could lock up another shot at the UFC’s lightweight crown, if, he beats Cerrone. Well, Justin Gaethje argues that before that happens, the star will need to get through him or Dustin Poirier.

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Gaethje comments on McGregor’s title shot prospects

Gaethje drove hard for a fight with McGregor, but for now, that’s not going to happen, as the latter will face Cerrone on January 18th. Recently Gaethje spoke with Luke Thomas, and while discussing McGregor’s title shot prospects, the former WSOF champ said this (quotes via MMA Fighting):

“I don’t know. I think the fact that he’s fighting at 170 just takes it off the table that the next fight is – who knows?” Gaethje said. “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.”

Is Gaethje on point?

Now, there’s likely a lot of people who agree with Gaethje here. McGregor is coming off a loss, a fairly decisive loss to Khabib Nurmagmedov last October. Cerrone, meanwhile, has dropped back-to-back fights to Gaethje and Tony Ferguson. So, even if this upcoming fight was at 155, which it’s not, one could argue a win shouldn’t deliver McGregor a title shot.

From a rankings perspective, Dustin Poirier is currently ranked #2, McGregor is #3, and Gaethje is #4. So, one could also make the case that McGregor should have to fight McGregor, and that since Gaethke has won three in a row, he should fight the winner of Nurmagomedov – Ferguson. Case in point, Gaethje also said this in the aforementioned interview:

“I’m the guy waiting for the title shot,” Gaethje said. “I got the winner of the fight in April, as far as I’m concerned. 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.

But, we all know that the UFC would love to run back Nurmagomeodv – McGregor if possible. Khabib has repeatedly said, however, Conor has to record multiple wins before earning another shot at the belt. If Ferguson does beat Khabib, the UFC will almost certainly look at having McGregor fight “El Cucuy” (all this assumes, of course, McGregor gets by Cerrone which likely won’t be easy).

It’s also worthy noting here, however, that recently Ariel Helwani reported that he’s been told McGregor is hoping to fight three times in 2020, and that he’s targeting a rematch with Khabib for the end of the year. So, it could be that McGregor and his camp believe that a win over Cerrone, won’t in fact, push him into a title fight after all.

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