Khabib Nurmagomedov reacts to Justin Gaethje’s calls for shot at UFC lightweight title

Former interim champion Gaethje outpointed Michael Chandler in a fight of the year contender last weekend

Alex Pattle
Friday 12 November 2021 15:14
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Khabib Nurmagomedov has responded to Justin Gaethje’s calls for a shot at the UFC lightweight title, telling his former opponent that he should not be next in line to challenge for the belt.

Gaethje outpointed Michael Chandler at UFC 268 last weekend in a fight of the year contender, and the former interim lightweight champion immediately called for a match-up against the winner of next month’s title fight between Charles Oliveira and Dustin Poirier.

Gaethje’s victory over Chandler marked his first outing since October 2020, when Khabib submitted the American in the second round of the pair’s unification bout.

The undefeated Khabib retired immediately after that fight and relinquished the undisputed lightweight title, with Oliveira knocking out Chandler this April to claim the gold.

Oliveira defends the belt against former interim champion Poirier in the main event of UFC 269 on 11 December, with many fans and pundits believing Gaethje should fight the winner of that contest. Khabib, however, disagrees.

Replying to an ESPN MMA post on Instagram, the Russian wrote: “In last 8 fight, you got finished 3 times Justin. You had an opportunity to become champion, but you fell asleep.

“Islam [Makhachev] is on the 9 win streak, 3 fight in 2021 and all finishes. Just shut up and admit that Islam deserves this title shot, not you.”

Khabib coaches his childhood friend Makhachev, who firmly established himself as a lightweight contender by submitting Dan Hooker in the first round at UFC 267 in October.

Should Poirier beat Oliveira and defend the lightweight title against Gaethje, the fight would mark a rematch of the Americans’ 2018 meeting, which Poirier won via fourth-round TKO.

Following that defeat, Gaethje won four fights in a row to become interim champion at 155lbs and set up his title fight with Khabib.

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