Ali Abdelaziz claims Justin Gaethje is patiently waiting for his next UFC fight as he showed off his new looks on EA Sport's UFC 4.
Gaethje, aka "The Highlight," is coming off a disappointing loss in his first-ever UFC title fight against former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov in October 2020.
It was widely expected that the 32-year-old would take on Michael Chandler for the 155-pound strap following Nurmagomedov's official retirement earlier this year.
Ultimately, the UFC decided to move in a different direction, with Chandler now set to face Charles Oliveira in the main event of UFC 262 on May 15 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. Gaethje, meanwhile, has neither his next fight booked nor a targeted date for his return.
However, the American's manager Abdelaziz dismissed rumours of a rift between his client and UFC chief Dana White, insisting Gaethje is simply playing the waiting game.
"I don’t think it’s business (issues) right now,” Abdelaziz said to MMA Junkie. "I think I just have to get the right fight. I see a lot of people calling him out. You can’t just be away from the lightweight division for six years and come back and try to fight the No. 2 guy. You have to earn it."
"Listen, Justin was supposed to fight Michael Chandler," he added. “That was the talk. We found out Chandler (was) fighting Oliveira, and I get it. The UFC wants a champion who never lost to Khabib (Nurmagomedov). If a guy who lost to Khabib becomes the champion … you need more time to make people forget about Khabib, right? They made the move, and I get it."
Abdelaziz is one of the most powerful figures in MMA, responsible for handling stars such as Nurmagomedov, Kamaru Usman and Henry Cejudo, among others.
The majority of his work is done behind the scenes but he is perhaps best known for his involvement in a long-running feud with "The Notorious" Conor McGregor.
The outspoken Egyptian couldn't resist an opportunity to poke fun at McGregor, telling MMA Junkie that he is doubtful that the former lightweight champion wants to share the Octagon with Gaethje.
"It was never 100 percent he was fighting Mike Chandler, but it was mentioned," he concluded. "It was mentioned (Conor) McGregor, too. I know Conor would never fight Justin because I think Justin stylistically is the worst matchup. I truly believe Justin Gaethje will be the UFC champion."News Now - Sport News