Charles Oliveira may be the next in line for a shot at the reigning lightweight champion, Islam Makhachev. If so, Justin Gaethje is prepared to wait patiently on the sidelines. Gaethje, it seems, has made peace with this possibility and doesn’t mind waiting his turn. Gaethje’s remarkable wins in his 2023 campaign against Rafael Fiziev and Dustin Poirier have boosted his confidence. He believes that these victories justify his demand for a third UFC lightweight title shot.
When asked by ESPN, “Who do I fight?”, Gaethje boldly claimed, “There’s no one. I did what I had to do. I don’t know what else I need to do.” His words clearly reflect his self-belief and determination. He doesn’t see any other competitor worthy enough. In his perspective, he has done all he had to and now it’s time for his rightfully earned shot at the title.
The fight between Oliveira and Makhachev was originally slated for UFC 294. However, Oliveira had to withdraw due to a cut. In the ensuing chaos, the Dagestani lightweight champion managed to retain his belt against Alexander Volkanovski with a first-round knockout. UFC CEO Dana White stated that Oliveira would get his promised rematch against Makhachev.
Even if this means Gaethje has to wait until late 2024, it doesn’t worry him. He’s even ready to fight Oliveira, stating, “If they want to put Oliveira in there, then I fight him in September [or next October].” He went on to elaborate, “I have no issues waiting. Again, as I get older I get to understand from now until the time I’m gonna fight him I’m gonna be building strength, I’m gonna be working on my cardio, I’m gonna be refining my skills. So, I’ll take as much time as they give me and I’ll be that much more ready.” He still bears the scars of his submission defeats to Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 254, and Oliveira at UFC 274. Nonetheless, Gaethje remains persistent and dedicated, raring to make his comeback.