UFC lightweight Justin Gaethje says he is eager to find out his next assignment, and acknowledges there are plenty of options given the current state of the division.
Gaethje (22-3) hasn't fought since a failed title bid against undefeated champion Khabib Nurmagomedov in October. He is still No. 2 in the UFC's rankings, however, behind only Dustin Poirier -- and with Nurmagomedov likely to vacate the title in the near future, Gaethje said he's open to a number of opponents to put him back in title contention.
"Poirier, [Michael] Chandler, [Charles] Oliveira, [Conor] McGregor, [Nate] Diaz," Gaethje told ESPN.
The 155-pound division is in a major state of flux, following Poirier's upset knockout of McGregor at UFC 257 last weekend in Abu Dhabi. The UFC could book a number of different matchups for the title, if and when Nurmagomedov vacates the belt. Poirier (27-6) would presumably be guaranteed one of the two spots.
McGregor's coach, John Kavanagh, has already called for McGregor's next fight to be a rematch against Poirier with a title on the line. Gaethje said he has no concern the UFC will book McGregor -- or another superstar, like unranked Nate Diaz -- to a title fight, but said he'd consider leaving the promotion if it did.
"For them to come out and say he wants a title shot next, rematch with Poirier, they're f---ing idiots," Gaethje said. "He's been treated special over and over and he didn't capitalize on this opportunity. That event was for him, it was for him to win. He wants to be Mr. Humble now, but you know he would have been an a--hole had he won that fight.
"He's not fighting for a title. I will think about never fighting in the UFC again if he fights for a title. That would be preposterous. He's sitting at No. 6, he's won one fight in his entire life in the lightweight division. He picks and chooses who he fights. I would love to fight him but I don't think it should be next. But he ain't gonna fight me."
Gaethje, 32, said he actually believes Oliveira is the toughest matchup for anyone at the top of the division, although he expressed confidence he would beat the Brazilian on the feet. Gaethje said the UFC discussed a potential fight between him and Chandler at UFC 257, but didn't give him a proper amount of time to prepare.
The former interim champion, who suffered a loss to Poirier in a back-and-forth fight in 2018, said he is healthy and ready to accept a fight as long as he gets 12 weeks to prepare.