NEW YORK -- Justin Gaethje expects to get the nod for a title shot if he takes care of business this weekend. And he's hoping that opportunity will come against an old rival.
Gaethje fights Michael Chandler at UFC 268 on Saturday at Madison Square Garden. With a victory, Gaethje said he believes he should absolutely be next in line for a shot at the belt. Gaethje said that if he gets snubbed, he's going to be extremely vocal.
"If I win Saturday and I don't get a shot, I riot," Gaethje said. "There's no way I can let that happen and go away quiet."
ESPN has Gaethje ranked No. 3 and Chandler at No. 4 in the world at lightweight. UFC lightweight champion Charles Oliveira defends against Dustin Poirier in the main event of UFC 269 on Dec. 11 in Las Vegas.
Gaethje, 32, had a four-fight winning streak snapped by then-champion Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 254 in October 2020. Nurmagomedov retired after that bout, and the UFC then booked Chandler against Oliveira for the vacant title at UFC 262 back in May, which Oliveira won via second-round TKO. Poirier is getting the title shot off back-to-back stoppage wins over Conor McGregor.
Islam Makhachev, Nurmagomedov's longtime training partner, submitted Dan Hooker last week at UFC 267. He has won nine straight, and many believe he's on the cusp of a title shot. But Gaethje does not think Makhachev has done enough and thinks a win over Hooker should not equate to a title shot.
Makhachev and Gaethje share a manager in Ali Abdelaziz of Dominance MMA, which complicates things. But Abdelaziz said Wednesday at media day that if Gaethje wins, he'll be pushing Gaethje for the title chance next.
"I'm sure a lot of people will call me a little b----, just whining," Gaethje said. "I don't know. I guess I just sit back and let my manager do what he's supposed to do and make the right thing happen." Gaethje (22-3) wants the title foremost, but he'd love it if Poirier gets by Oliveira. Gaethje and Poirier fought in April 2018, with Poirier winning by fourth-round TKO.
"The preference is going to come to wanting to exact revenge on Poirier," Gaethje said. "He beat me. I want to beat him. I want to fight him again. I made one big mistake in that fight, and I fought much different at that time. So, I'd love to fight him now and see how that goes."