Justin Gaethje blames the UFC and president Dana White for the current state of the lightweight division.
Dana persistently chased Khabib for the few months that followed in hopes of luring him back, but after Conor McGregor’s brutal loss at the hands of Dustin Poirier at UFC 257, the UFC president shut the door on the Dagestani’s return to the Octagon.
This leaves the lightweight title race wide open, with Poirier, Charles Oliveira and promotional newcomer Michael Chandler being the frontrunners to compete for gold. But the UFC’s special treatment of the former Bellator champion isn’t sitting well with some of the division’s contenders, who have worked their way up the rankings throughout the years.
Poirier has dismissed the idea of fighting Chandler for the title, and if the UFC wants the newcomer to fight for the belt, ‘The Diamond’ said he will sit back and just watch how things play out.
Speaking to MMA Junkie, Gaethje said he understands why Poirier, and the rest of the contenders, aren’t too happy about the UFC promoting Chandler.
“The reason why this is happening with Poirier is because Dana White used, he tried to, he did, he f***ed Tony [Ferguson] and Dustin,” Gaethje said. “He said f*** you guys, I’m going to take Chandler, and he’s going to be the backup for this title fight [at UFC 254]. That all happened four months ago. We are humans, we have principles, we have morals, and that’s what that is. That’s why Dustin Poirier is saying [he won’t fight Chandler]. Well, I would assume. I don’t talk to the guy.
“He didn’t just f*** Dustin Poirier, He didn’t just s*** on Tony Ferguson. He s*** on every single f***ing fighter that wants to do it right and wants integrity to the sport, and that’s why Dustin Poirier is talking like he is.”
Poirier vs Ferguson At UFC 254
In September, Poirier and Tony Ferguson were in talks with the UFC to fight in the co-main event at UFC 254, but the negotiations failed after the Louisiana native refused to agree to the terms, and instead, Chandler served as the backup for the main event between Khabib and Gaethje.
Gaethje said that the UFC and Dana White mishandled the situation by not respecting Poirier and Ferguson enough to offer them a good deal.
“That’s just the truth. You remember how upset Tony and Dustin were when they didn’t put that fight together,” Gaethje explained. “They were probably $50,000 or $100,000 off one of their contracts, and they didn’t put the contract together and those guys were ready to fight.
“They put it in the public, and that s*** is not right. I don’t like that as a fighter. I don’t like that as an employee. Well, I’m no f***ing employee but being somebody that offers my services to the company. That’s not cool. You don’t want to see that. … I just know that’s why Dustin is saying what he’s saying, and that’s why he won’t fight Chandler for the title right now because they did that s*** in October. I don’t know it, but I’m pretty sure.”
Despite his criticism of Dana White’s poor handling of the situation, Gaethje insists that he’s happy fighting in the UFC.
“I’m happy. I’m not dissatisfied,” Gaethje stated. “I don’t want to fight anywhere else. This is the company to showcase your skills at the highest level. I try to be a company man since day one.”
Do you agree with Justin Gaethje when he says the UFC and Dana White mishandled business in the lightweight division?