Justin Gaethje’s win over Tony Ferguson at UFC 249 last May 9th has opened a lot of doors for him.

The Highlight is now the interim UFC lightweight champion and he can use that belt to challenge for the “real” lightweight title. If not, he can monetize the victory by taking a big money fight against the UFC’s top draw.

Gaethje has been cleared by the Florida State Athletic Commission and he will face no medical suspension. That said, he is ready for a quick turnaround fight if that is what he wants.

Here are the two most probable fights for Justin Gaethje:

“Fighting" Justin Gaethje vs Khabib Nurmagomedov

After defeating Tony Ferguson at UFC 249, Justin Gaethje won the interim UFC lightweight title. Of course, the next obvious move would be to unify the belt with the regular title that is currently held by Khabib Nurmagomedov with the winner emerging as the undisputed UFC lightweight champion.

Nurmagomedov was supposed to fight Tony Ferguson at UFC 249 but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, he was unable to travel from his native Dagestan. The UFC offered the fight to Gaethje but they still hoped that Ferguson would win so they could finally book him against Khabib later this year. However, Gaethje upset Ferguson and El Cucuy’s bout against Nurmagomedov may indeed be cursed.

What are the Moneyline Odds?





Odds were taken from BetOnline as of 05/18/2020

It does not come as a surprise that Nurmagomedov is the betting favorite against Gaethje because the Dagestani former combat sambo world champion is the #2 ranked pound for pound fighter in the UFC. He has been the betting favorite in his last 10 fights. The last time Khabib was an underdog was at UFC 148 in 2012 when he fought Gleison Tibau. He won that fight via unanimous decision.

Meanwhile, Gaethje has been the underdog in five out of his seven UFC bouts and he has a record of 5-2 over that period. The Highlight has 19 knockouts in 22 wins and he has earned a total of nine post-fight bonuses in his seven octagon appearances, including Performance of the Night and Fight of The Night honors against Ferguson.

“Fighting" How Will This Fight Unfold?

Nurmagomedov is perhaps the best wrestler in the UFC today. The Eagle likes to put his opponents on their backs and pressure them with relentless ground and pound. His foes wilt under his pressure and end up losing by submission or knockout via ground and pound. Khabib averages 5.35 takedowns per 15 minutes and has recorded multiple takedowns in each of his last nine bouts.

However, he is vulnerable on his feet. While he is a stud on the ground, he isn’t considered an elite striker. We have seen him improve his striking game over the years but despite that, he’s been out-pointed each time he tries to fight in the stand-up. Remember the fight against Al Iaquinta?

Gaethje meanwhile is a stand-up fighter known for his violent exchanges. He has always been known as a knockout artist and he doesn’t mind absorbing blows in order to land his big punches. He doesn’t put up much of a defense but he hasn’t needed defense in most of his fights because he overwhelms his opponents with volume and power. Gaethje showed a lot of maturity against Ferguson. He fought with the same violence but it was controlled.

What not many people know is that Gaethje was a two-time Arizona state champion wrestler in high school and an NCAA Division I All-American during his time with the University of North Colorado. But although he is a superb wrestler, he has never landed a single takedown in the UFC. It will be interesting to see how his wrestling will be a factor in a potential fight with Khabib.

I think this will be like the Khabib vs McGregor fight. Nurmagomedov will drag the fight to the ground and try to tire out Gaethje before finishing him off in the later rounds. But if the Highlight can stuff the takedowns or manage to get back on his feet fast, then it could be a different story.

Prediction: I’ll take Khabib’s grappling over anything else here. Khabib Nurmagomedov for me.

“Fighting" Justin Gaethje vs Conor McGregor

If Khabib isn’t available for some reason, an option for Gaethje would be to enter into a big money fight with Conor McGregor. Gaethje has been calling out McGregor for years and he’s never had the Irishman’s ear because he was still new in the promotion. But now that he has the interim belt, I think that the Irishman will be willing to listen. In fact, he’s already contacted Gaethje:

Because of the belt, beating Gaethje would put McGregor in line for a rematch with Nurmagomedov. The Notorious has been longing to get his shot at redemption against Khabib but the champ isn’t inclined in giving him the rematch. However, if Conor gets the interim belt, Nurmagomedov will have no choice but to fight him.

What are the Moneyline Odds?





Odds were taken from BetOnline as of 05/18/2020

Despite beating up the bogeyman of the division at UFC 249 in a classic stand up fight, Gaethje is still an underdog against McGregor, who is also a striker, although not by much. As we said earlier, he’s not in unfamiliar territory here as he’s used to being the underdog since he joined the UFC.

As for McGregor, he’s been the favorite in 10 out of his 12 UFC bouts and has been a sizeable one in most of them. The Notorious is 8-2 in the 10 bouts where he is the betting favorite. In his last bout, McGregor was a -325 favorite against Donald “Cowboy|” Cerrone and he lived up to that billing by knocking out Cowboy in just 40 seconds.

“Fighting" How Will This Fight Unfold?

McGregor is known for his accurate striking and his very powerful left hand. He uses a long karate stance and has a very dynamic striking attack. The Irishman’s southpaw stance makes him difficult to read and his footwork makes him a very hard target. McGregor has 19 knockouts in 22 wins. 16 of those stoppages have come inside round one.

One thing that makes McGregor stand out is his ability to play mind games with his opponents. He engages in a lot of trash talking and most of his opponents have crumbled under pressure. However, opponents like Khabib and Nate Diaz who have pushed past the mind games have been able to defeat the Irishman.

While Conor has pinpoint striking, Gaethje is a flat-out brawler. He baits his opponents by allowing himself to get hit. He is a very durable fighter although he’s been knocked out twice by Dustin Poirier and Eddie Alvarez. Interestingly, McGregor knocked out both Poirier and Alvarez.

Earlier, we talked about Gaethje’s wrestling ability. We know that he has it in his pocket but he’s displayed that before inside the octagon. The Highlight has zero takedowns in seven UFC bouts. But while he’s never needed it before, he could use it against McGregor who may be the more skilled striker between them.

McGregor has the advantage in speed. But Gaethje is a very durable fighter. If he can withstand McGregor’s left hand, then he could be headed to another upset win. Ferguson was a more complete fighter than McGregor but Gaethje fought a perfect fight and won decisively.

Prediction: Given their skillsets, I will take my chance on Gaethje here. Justin Gaethje

Place Your Bets Here

Related Articles
Leave Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *