Justin Gaethje was never supposed to be in the position he is in. In a normal world, Tony Ferguson would have already faced Khabib Nurmagomedov for the UFC Lightweight Championship. However, we aren’t living in a normal world. ‘El Cucuy’ fought Gaethje for the interim title on short notice and lost. The UFC’s million-dollar bout between Khabib and Tony was lost, as ‘The Highlight’ became the number one contender.
A lot of the talk ahead of UFC 254 has been with regards to what’s next for Khabib. But not many people are factoring in what happens if Gaethje was to win the title. The interim champion is aware of this treatment and called it out.
“I’m here to ruin Ali’s day. Am here to ruin Dana White’s day. I’m here to ruin Daniel Cormier’s day. Am here to ruin Javier Mendez’s day. I’m here to ruin Khabib Nurmagomedov’s day. Fu*k all those guys. I don’t know what their plan is [for Nurmagomedov] but they said they have a plan ahead. I’m going to fuck it up. They’re going to change my nickname from ‘The Highlight’ to ‘2020’.”
Justin Gaethje pulls off another upset?
Gaethje has earned the title shot that he finds himself with. While people obviously wanted to see Tony and Khabib, Gaethje has more than earned his spot as number one contender. However, he is the underdog against ‘The Eagle’ He was also the underdog against Ferguson, but he has clearly shown that the odds don’t mean much to him.
Gaethje is correct in saying that he will ruin Dana White’s day by winning because Khabib is their superstar. Another win for him helps them further sell his legacy. However, Gaethje winning will cause the UFC to re-think their plans for the division.
Does Khabib go off for his Georges St. Pierre super fight, or does he fight for his title again? What happens with the winner of Poirier-McGregor? There will be a lot of unanswered questions if ‘The Highlight’ was to upset the status quo.
But if 2020 has proven anything, it is that nothing stays the way it is. While Khabib may be the favorite, Gaethje will come with intentions of shocking the world. He did it against Tony, and now he will attempt to do the same against the undefeated lightweight king.