The top of the lightweight division is in full swing.
UFC 262 is headlined by no. 4 ranked Michael Chandler and no. 3 ranked Charles Oliveira for the vacant lightweight championship, while UFC 264 is headlined by no. 1 contender Dustin Poirier and no. 6 ranked Conor McGregor.
Gaethje has not fought since he was defeated by Khabib Nurmagomedov via technical submission by way of triangle choke at UFC 254 in what turned out to be Nurmagomedov’s last fight before he announced his retirement.
Despite coming off a loss, “The Highlight” was defeated by arguably the greatest lightweight of all time in Nurmagomedov, who retired as the no. 1 ranked pound-for-pound fighter in the world. Before his last loss, however, Gaethje was on a four fight win streak.
With the rest of the top five in the division scheduled for a fight in the near future, no one knows what is next for Gaethje.
Neither does his manager, Ali Abdelaziz.
“Listen, I don’t know. This is something me and Sean Shelby have to talk about and we’re gonna have to figure it out,” Abdelaziz said. “It’s a problem I don’t like, because he’s the odd man out. There’s nobody out there, really, for him to fight.
“Maybe he can make a fun fight. Like somebody fun, right? But we asked for Max Holloway, I got cussed out. But Max Holloway versus Gaethje, I got cussed out and I understand.”
With Holloway presumably slated to face the winner of UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski and no. 2 contender Brian Ortega, while it would be a very entertaining fight for the fans it does not make much sense.
Abdelaziz did have another lightweight contender in mind for Gaethje, although he admitted the matchup also did not make much sense despite acknowledging it would be a fun scrap.
“One fight that excites me for Justin as a fan, just a fan. I know he stepped in and took a fight on short notice, I think Paul Felder, Justin Gaethje is just a fun fight,” Abdelaziz said. “Nothing makes sense, nothing makes sense. But I don’t think– the ranking maybe doesn’t make sense. Maybe it doesn’t make sense for the UFC, or Sean and I respect also their view on it. But for fun? For the fan? Gaethje-Felder is a good fight.”
With not many options on the table, Abdelaziz is understandably getting creative. But one could only hope “The Highlight” gets a fight scheduled soon.