Gaethje challenges lightweight champion Charles Oliveira in Saturday’s UFC 274 main event, which takes place at Footprint Center in Phoenix. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN and early prelims on ESPN+.
If Gaethje (23-3 MMA, 6-3 UFC) gets past Oliveira and becomes champion, he acknowledges that the McGregor (22-6 MMA, 10-4 UFC) fight is a possibility, and his sentiments toward him haven’t changed.
“At the end of the day, after I win this fight there’s two people that are next in line,” Gaethje said on the “FULL SEND PODCAST.” “There’s Beneil Dariush and (Islam) Makhachev and they need to fight each other. If Conor McGregor’s there, then I think he’s just as rightfully available as those two because they need to fight. So I say either everybody deserves it, or nobody deserves it right now. Someone needs to stand out and yeah, whoever. I want that opportunity to take him away from this sport forever.”
Former UFC dual champion McGregor’s star power could mean he enters the title picture immediately upon his return from injury, despite going 1-3 in his past four fights and back-to-back losses to Dustin Poirier. But Gaethje knows if he can capture gold on Saturday, he won’t be short of options.
“The best part: When you’re the champion, the target’s on your back,” Gaethje said. “I’m not going to be looking back. At the end of the day, I will be the champ and whoever’s next will be next. I just gotta keep preparing myself, keep eating correctly, keep isolating myself, take away all distractions, and then I’ll be done one of these days.”