Justin Gaethje eyeing 2023 return to the octagon

UFC lightweight contender Justin Gaethje fought for the title in May, but came short against former champion Charles Oliveira in the UFC 274 main event.

‘The Highlight’ has been recovering from nose surgery and the fight against Oliveira was his only fight in 2022. Back in the gym training, Gaethje expects to be back inside the octagon potentially early next year.

“I told them next year,” Gaethje said to MMAFighting. “I’m starting to work out now. I’m back in a regular routine.”

Gaethje is ranked No. 3 in the UFC 155-pound division. There are a couple of pivotal fights in the weight class coming up. Former champion Oliveira takes on No. 4-ranked Islam Makhachev for the vacant title on October 22. No. 2 ranked Dustin Poirier and No. 5 ranked Michael Chandler fight on November 12.

Gaethje expects to face one of the four fighters competing over the next month in those high-stakes matches in his next octagon appearance.

“The body is resilient, but you have to give it time,” Gaethje said. “I wanted to take a break. It was nice that I got to get my nose fixed. They’ve (Oliveira and Makhachev) got to fight for the title. Someone’s got to face the loser. Chandler and Poirier are going to fight. Someone’s got to fight the winner. I’ll be ready next year.”

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