Justin Gaethje’s Woes Pile Up After UFC 300 as Islam Makhachev’s Coach Personally Sends Ex-BMF a Sad Update

Published 04/18/2024, 8:34 AM EDT

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Justin Gaethje lost more than just the BMF belt against Max Holloway at UFC 300. Despite being the favorite, ‘The Highlight’ was knocked out in the last seconds of their BMF bout. Along with the title, Gaethje also faced monetary loss as Holloway went home with $600,000 in ‘Performance of the Night’ and ‘Fight of the Night’ bonuses. Now, just days after the fight, Gaethje’s woes might have increased as Islam Makhachev’s coach gave a sad update in a recent interaction. 

AKA head coach Javier Mendez reflected on the potential fight between Makhachev and Gaethje while also talking about the mega UFC 300 event. Gaethje was the frontrunner for a shot at the 155 lbs title after his recent run of form, but the UFC 300 loss just completely derailed his prospects.

Why does Javier Mendez not see Justin Gaethje fighting Islam Makhachev?


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Since knocking out Dustin Poirier in July 2023 to claim the BMF title, Justin Gaethje has been one of the two top names in title contention (the other being Charles Oliveira). This title fight could not take place last year as Makhachev was already booked for UFC 294 in October. Even though the duo shares a manager, the contest did not come to fruition in the opening half of 2024. And now, Gaethje fought Holloway and lost the fight via a brutal KO. The same resulted in him declaring that he would not be fit for another fight in June.

This might have prompted Mendez to deny a clash between Islam Makhachev and the ex-BMF winner. On his podcast, ‘Javier Mendez Podcast’, he complimented Gaethje’s fighting style and pedigree, stating that he expected Gaethje to fight Makhachev. Mendez claimed, “I thought he was the biggest threat for us. And now he is probably never going to be in the picture for us.” 


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This spells a bleak future for Gaethje. Many would argue that he should have waited and taken the Makhachev fight in June, instead of the Max Holloway fight in April. Even Makhachev’s teammate and former champion Khabib Nurmagomedov dismissed the BMF matchup as non-sensical. But ‘The Human Highlight’ is about more than waiting his turn for title shots. He put it all on the line and has now lost big. Makhacehv’s coach laid out their plans for the upcoming months, and he does not see Gaethje entering that particular scene.

When he was asked about Holloway, he said that Makhachev might have a bout with him in the future. The coach declared, “Max Holloway, he’s definitely in the talking circle but I think I have to get by Dustin and then probably after that we have to get by [Arman] Tsarukyan. And then Max Holloway could be in the picture. Who knows, Max could get Ilia Topuria. You know that might be the match that makes it a good possibility.”

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Lightweight champion Islam Makhachev is also eager to return to the Octagon and has his bout against Dustin Poirier set for June., He has other challengers waiting on the sidelines and all of whom could make a case for a title shot before Gaethje can even begin to rebuild his!


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Islam Makhachev wants Max Holloway after Dustin Poirier

Javier Mendez, his longtime coach at AKA or American Kickboxing Academy, aims to keep the champion active at all times. He declared that Poirier’s recent win and free slots make him a good fit for the timing of the bout. Lo-and-behold, this fight is happening because the duo is about to throw hands at UFC 302. Poirier’s victory over Benoit Saint-Denis at UFC 299 has given him another chance at gaining the lightweight belt after losing to Khabib Nurmagomedov and Charles Oliveira previously.

Max Holloway, meanwhile, has not ruled out a fight with Islam Makhachev. He said to Kevin Iole that he would like to fight Makhachev and it would be “fun”. Holloway had also slandered Makhachev for declining the fight with Gaethje previously. And amidst all this hubbub, Conor McGregor is returning to action against Michael Chandler at UFC 303.


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Though it is set at welterweight, McGregor beating Chandler could see him enter the lightweight rankings (probably somewhere in the top 10). If it is the case, then the Irishman will easily become the biggest matchup for anyone in the division, simply because of his PPV stardom. This could add him to the list of the then-lightweight champion’s (likely Makhachev or Poirier) suitors, pushing Gaethje further down the ladder of relevance.

Ultimately, it boils down to Gaethje returning to action soon and getting a win over a top lightweight (a rematch against Oliveira perhaps?) to make his own case for a title shot. What do you think? Will Gaethje fight for the UFC lightweight belt ever again?


Written by:

Tanushree Bhowmick


One take at a time

Tanushree Bhowmick is a Bodybuilding Writer at EssentiallySports. Her Master's degree in English literature is reflected in every carefully crafted sentence she writes. A lifelong fan of action movies, Tanushree has a keen interest in covering Arnold Schwarzenegger’s newsletters.
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Edited by:

Sakshi Jain