Gaethje (25-4 MMA, 8-4 UFC) re-emerged in the lightweight title picture after a win over Rafael Fiziev, and a head-kick knockout of Dustin Poirier to claim the “BMF” title at UFC 291 in July. With the UFC possibly rebooking the Makhachev (25-1 MMA, 14-1 UFC) vs. Charles Oliveira rematch next, Gaethje said he’d rather wait his turn.
But if Gaethje ends up next in line for the title, Welch doesn’t see it being an easy night for lightweight champion Makhachev. Welch says don’t expect Gaethje vs. Makhachev to go the same way as Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Gaethje, where “The Eagle” submitted him in Round 2 in their title fight at UFC 254.
“Everyone thinks Justin Gaethje would get ran through,” Welch said on a recent episode of the TimboSugarShow. “I don’t think he would, dude. They talk about Gaethje, when he fought Khabib, he got (to Abu Dhabi) 10 days before that fight and just, everything was wrong.
“Gaethje’s a different dude. Khabib said he knew that Justin got there (late), and he’s been through that time travel multiple times. He knew that was just going to ruin him. This Gaethje now, vs. Islam, in Vegas or something. I wouldn’t be that surprised if Gaethje knocked him out.”
Makhachev has proven that he’s not just an elite grappler. He stood toe-to-toe with featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski in two straight fights, knocking him out with a first-round head kick to retain his title in the UFC 294 main event.