'If Khabib beats me, Conor might not be back': Gaethje suggests McGregor could run scared FOR GOOD if Russian retains UFC title
Gaethje produced the performance of a lifetime to stop Tony Ferguson in the fifth round of their main event at UFC 249 in May, setting up a shot at undefeated lightweight champ Khabib.
One man sidelined from the immediate title picture is frustrated Irishman McGregor, which appears to have been a factor in his recent announcement that he was yet again retiring from the sport.
Gaethje says he thinks McGregor will eventually return to the octagon – but only for a potential fight with him, rather than Khabib, who famously submitted the Irishman in their 2018 grudge match.
"I think he'll fight again, he should wait for the winner of me and Khabib.
"If I win, I think he definitely comes back; if Khabib wins, I don't know, I'm not sure about that," Gaethje told ESPN.Also on rt.com 'It's ironic he's on his knees': Gaethje mocks McGregor for 'losing clout' as newly-crowned UFC interim champ targets Khabib
'The Highlight', 31, said he respected former two-weight champ McGregor's accomplishments, but that he would still relish the chance to "punch him in the face."
"He's a legend, what he did was legendary status. I'll never take that away from him.
"He deserves credit, he's accomplished so much in this sport. What every fighter wants to achieve, he's accomplished.
"So hats off to him, I can't wait to punch him in the face."Also on rt.com Fans won't thank him for killing off Khabib vs Ferguson, but Justin Gaethje is now the clear and present danger for The Eagle
When asked how a potential fight with McGregor would play out, knockout artist Gaethje predicted a finish inside three rounds.
"I think I'd knock him out to be honest. He'd go about three rounds, then it's hell.
"And he doesn't want to go to hell, so I think he's good for now," Gaethje said.
The Arizona fighter also revealed that Dana White had told him US President Donald Trump had been singing his praises after his destruction of Ferguson.
"[White] said Trump was raving about me, that was the first time he'd ever called me, but he hasn't called me since," Gaethje said of the UFC boss.
Gaethje, who boasts a 22-2 record and is unbeaten in his past four fights, is expected to face the 28-0 Khabib later this year, potentially in September.
McGregor, meanwhile, lamented his inactivity in his explanation over his retirement, accusing the UFC of dragging their feet over his next bout.Also on rt.com 'I don't give a f*ck': 'Bored' McGregor says UFC 'doesn't excite him' as he explains retirement announcement
"They should have just done the fight – me and Justin for the interim title – and just kept the ball rolling," the Dubliner said.
McGregor has previously said he would "butcher" Gaethje.
"I am going to f*cking butcher you. Your teeth. I'm going to put them on a f*cking necklace.
"Speak on my skills as a father? You are f*cking dead," the Irishman threatened in May.
After McGregor's retirement, Gaethje took to Twitter to troll him, claiming he was simply "on another bender."Also on rt.com 'Thankfully the elderly are all still at home... he's on a bender again': UFC rival Gaethje trolls McGregor over 'retirement'