Justin Gaethje is ranked no. 2 in the UFC’s lightweight division but hasn’t fought since losing to Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 254 in October 2020. Gaethje is scheduled to face former Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler at UFC 268 on Nov. 6. When he steps into the octagon that night, it will have been over a year since he last fought.
In a recent interview with ESPN MMA, Gaethje explained why he hasn’t fought in so long.
“I fight twice a year. I fought in May and October, so that was two times in a five, or six month time period. That was not normal. This break has not been normal. Honestly, it’s been the way things played out,” Gaethje said about his layoff.
“Number one fought number five. Number three fought number four, and if you were number 2 you kind of out in limbo. It just so happened that I was number two, so that was just the way of the world at the time.”
With a champion crowned and the murky waters of the 155-pound division slightly more clear, Gaethje knows that he’s a win over Chandler away from a title shot.
“Things have kind of cleared up. Dustin Poirier is going to fight (Charles) Oliveira. And now it’s clear that I’ve got to go out there and get a W, which has been clear the whole time. I just needed to find – I wasn’t going to go fight six, seven, eight, nine, or ten. That’s just not what we do,” Gaethje said. “I didn’t work my way here for that.”