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Justin Gaethje throws down the gauntlet to Conor McGregor and eyes up a UFC lightweight showdown

Justin Gaethje has thrown down the gauntlet to UFC lightweight rival Conor McGregor, as The Highlight looks to earn his status as the No 1 contender to the division’s throne. 

A fight between the American and the Notorious has long been mooted, with the Irishman revealing that Gaethje is on his hit-list as he looks to reclaim the lightweight belt he was stripped of. 

However, McGregor’s 40-second destruction of Donald Cerrone has thrown a match-up with Gaethje into jeopardy, with UFC president Dana White seemingly keen to pair McGregor and arch rival Khabib Nurmagomedov once more.

The Russian is scheduled to face long-time rival Tony Ferguson at UFC 249, although that bout is in doubt due to the spread of the coronavirus, and Gaethje feels he and McGregor should battle it out for the No 1 contender spot. 

‘I think me and Conor need to fight each other to figure out the No. 1 contender,’ he told MMA Fighting. 

‘Outside of that, if I need to fight someone else to assure myself of the No. 1 contender’s spot and get the winner of that fight, I’ll do that. As long as that’s a sure thing.’ 

Gaethje has campaigned hard to earn a bout with the former two-weight champion, but admits that the decision as to whether the pair fight is ultimately down to McGregor.

‘You know it’s his choice,’ Gaethje added. ‘[Conor McGregor] picks who he fights.

‘He knows that if he fights me and beats me, nobody — Khabib [Nurmagomedov], Ali [Abdelaziz], whoever — can’t say much about him earning it or deserving the title shot. But until then, he ain’t going to get it.’ 

For now, it is unknown what McGregor’s next move will be. He declared his intent to compete regularly following his obliteration of Cerrone, although no future opponent has been announced yet.  

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