Islam Makhachev’s coach: ‘Biggest threat’ Justin Gaethje no longer in UFC title picture

Javier Mendez believes UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev’s most dangerous opponent is out of the way.

Justin Gaethje lined himself up for a title shot after knocking out Dustin Poirier to claim the BMF title at UFC 291. However, he opted to defend his belt against Max Holloway at UFC 300 and was on the receiving end of a last-second knockout.

Now Mendez isn’t sure if Gaethje (25-5 MMA, 8-5 UFC) will ever face Makhachev (25-1 MMA, 14-1 UFC) in a title fight.

“Yeah, to me, the guy out of all the guys that I thought for us stylistically was very dangerous out of all of them, I thought it was Justin Gaethje,” Mendez said on his YouTube channel. “Stylistically because of his wrestling pedigree and his striking is really good, strong.

“It’s all apples and oranges right? Because everybody brings a different skillset, so I thought that he was the biggest threat for us and now he’s probably never going to be in the picture for us going forward. So, no need to talk about him for us as a threat because he’s never going to be there, I think.”

Mendez already had to prep for Gaethje before when Khabib Nurmagomedov defended his title against him. Nurmagomedov submitted him in Round 2 at UFC 254 but lost Round 1 on two of the three judges’ scorecards.

Makhachev will defend his lightweight title against Dustin Poirier (30-8 MMA, 22-7 UFC) in the UFC 302 main event June 1 at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. Waiting in the wings is Arman Tsarukyan, who edged out Charles Oliveira at UFC 300.

For more on the cards, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 302.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie