Justin Gaethje ‘set to take on Michael Chandler’ in UFC huge lightweight showdown with winner in pole position for title fight
- Justin Gaethje suffered defeat in his title shot against Khabib Nurmagomedov
- UFC lightweight contender must earn another go at the belt, which is vacant
- He is in line to fight Michael Chandler, who made waves by beating Dan Hooker
- Claim to compete for belt will be almost undeniable with a win for either man
Justin Gaethje is set to fight Michael Chandler in his first fight back since defeat in the title showdown against Khabib Nurmagomedov last year.
The ‘Highlight’, 32, was submitted by the champion in the second round of their Fight Island contest and he must earn another opportunity to compete for the belt, which is now vacant.
Khabib’s emotional retirement in the wake of that win has blown the division wide open and Gaethje is still among the top contenders.
Michael Chandler (left) is set to face Justin Gaethje and the winner is in line for a title shot
Khabib Nurmagomedov submitted Gaethje before emotionally retiring from the sport
According to ESPN, he is in line to lock horns with Chandler next.
Chandler made his UFC debut against Dan Hooker and knocked him out in spectacular fashion to announce himself on the big stage.
The former Bellator champion is a power puncher with a strong wrestling base so matches up well with his compatriot for what would be an entertaining fight.
Chandler, 34, is ranked two places behind Gaethje at No 4 and is eager to step back in as soon as possible to capitalise on his momentum.
Many believed Gaethje might be the man to hand Khabib his first defeat last year but the Russian tore through his takedown defence and overwhelmed him.
With Conor McGregor set to fight Dustin Poirier in a trilogy bout, the winner of that could well meet the winner of Gaethje vs Khabib for the title.
Dana White still hopes Khabib will reverse his decision to retire at 29-0 but as it stands, no comeback is in the pipeline.
Brazilian star Charles Oliveira also has a strong claim for a title shot having dominated Tony Ferguson, while Khabib’s protege Islam Makhachev earned a statement win over Drew Dober earlier this month.
It will be fascinating to follow the lightweight developments and Chandler or Gaethje will be banging the door down for a title fight if they emerge victorious.
There is a growing queue for Khabib’s vacant title but he remains firmly in retirement
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