This weekend’s UFC 254 will feature the Lightweight title fight between Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and number one contender Justin Gaethje.
While this fight will, no doubt, be the hardest fight in either man’s career, there must still be an eye towards the future.
Let’s take a look at what the future will hold for both Khabib and Gaethje.
Beginning first with the challenger, Justin Gaethje, his future could drastically change depending on whether or not he wins or loses. Should Gaethje win, it would be reasonable to assume the UFC would want to run this massive fight back. Khabib has been one of, if not the, most dominant champions in UFC history. If Khabib ever does lose his Lightweight Championship, he will absolutely deserve a rematch.
Inversely, if Gaethje loses, he may be shuffled into the Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier level of the division. Both Conor and Dustin have agreed to face one another in early 2021. Gaethje could definitely face the loser of that fight in an effort to get back into the title picture.
It truly feels as though there is a defined top four fighters in the Lightweight division who all deserve a shot at the title, Gaethje and Tony Ferguson being the two who have yet to get a crack at Khabib.
As discussed above, if Khabib loses this fight, he will most likely be granted a rematch. Khabib would absolutely deserve it given his storied career and incredible run in MMA. It will take an incredibly strong man to defeat Khabib, so much so, that it seems impossible that someone could do it twice.
The only other outcome there could be from a Khabib lose, would be his retirement. Khabib has openly discussed retirement. It doesn’t seem like Khabib will be fighting much longer, win or lose. However, should he lose, Khabib will most likely want to right the ship before retirement.
Following a Khabib win, there seems to be two routes this could go.
If it were up to Khabib, he would defeat Justin Gaethje, face the UFC Hall of Famer, George St. Pierre, and then retire. If it were up to the UFC, they could do the GSP fight following the Gaethje fight, or have him face the winner of Conor-Poirier.
The UFC would never explicitly say this, but they desperately want Conor to defeat Dustin Poirier.
That way, there is a defined path for Conor to fight for the Lightweight title once again. A Khabib-Conor rematch would most likely do even bigger numbers than their first fight.
This is all dependent on how the main event shakes out this weekend.
This fight will be incredible and we as fans cannot wait to see what the future holds for both men.
Featured Image: Thomas Gerbasi