Justin Gaethje, the UFC’s newly topped interim light-weight champion, had a reasonably easy response to Conor McGregor‘s latest calls for to combat him subsequent: No.

Gaethje (22-2) is coming off arguably the most effective efficiency of his profession, a fifth-round TKO victory over Tony Ferguson for the interim title at UFC 249 final weekend. Gaethje’s win, which he known as a “masterpiece,” ought to arrange a high-profile 155-pound title unification bout in opposition to undefeated champion Khabib Nurmagomedov (28-0) later this yr.

On Monday, nonetheless, former light-weight champion McGregor (22-4) brashly promised to “butcher” Gaethje within the Octagon, and assured he would face Gaethje subsequent.

In an unique interview with ESPN on Friday, Gaethje dismissed McGregor’s possibilities as his subsequent opponent.

“He is shedding his clout,” Gaethje stated. “I do not imply with most of the people, however with fighters, he is shedding a lot respect within the recreation, which he most likely does not care. However to somebody like me and even him, I’d assume that issues somewhat bit. He does not maintain the playing cards proper now. I put myself in an important place. I requested for a say in my future, and I confirmed up. Now I can decide between Khabib and Conor proper now. If I wished to combat Conor proper now, I might. Imagine me. Why would not [UFC president] Dana White put that collectively? However that is not the combat I would like.

“I’ve nothing to say to him. You do not get to combat me subsequent, except there are loopy circumstances, the place Khabib can’t combat. Then we’ll combat. That is the one method. Aside from that, you aren’t getting a say. Dana White laughed every time they informed him Conor stated he was combating me. He stated, ‘No, Gaethje is combating Khabib.’ You are still value all the cash within the recreation, that is true. However you are shedding clout on the subject of inside the sport.”

So far as a title unification bout in opposition to Nurmagomedov, Gaethje talked about September as a doable time. White has stated the identical, relating to a date for the combat.

“That is the combat I would like,” Gaethje stated. “That is the combat I earned and deserve. It is the one combat on the market for me proper now.”

That stated, Gaethje believes he’ll face McGregor eventually contained in the Octagon. The 31-year-old former collegiate wrestler has referred to as McGregor out previously, and even posted screenshots of a direct message he despatched to the Irish celebrity, asking him to simply accept a bout in opposition to him in Eire.

Whether or not McGregor ought to take one other combat within the meantime, Gaethje stated he did not significantly care.

“I am right here to make cash,” Gaethje stated. “After I beat Khabib, I’ll combat Conor as a result of I am attempting to money in. Whether or not he fights or not — do I feel he ought to combat? Completely. However there are such a lot of jokes you would make about his subsequent combat. I do not know who he’d combat. One of many foremost necessities is you need to be coming off a loss.”