CONOR McGREGOR believes he will fight for the UFC lightweight title against Justin Gaethje in July after predicting Khabib Nurmagomedov will “bottle” out of his defence against the American.
Gaethje, 33, set up a unification bout against unbeaten Nurmagomedov, 31, after winning the interim title against Tony Ferguson, 36, at UFC 249.
UFC president Dana White wants the two lightweight belt holders to face off as soon as possible – but ex-champion McGregor has other plans.
In a series of tweets the 31-year-old Irishman suggested he will fight Gaethje for the title behind closed doors, because Nurmagomedov will not defend his belt.
He said: “Super excited for the LW Title bout in July!
“The fans make the sport! Watching the other night I was against going in without them. But it will be my f***ing pleasure to display the power I possess with zero background noise for them.
“Its (sic) me and Justin next as khabib is the biggest bottle fighter in the game. Guarantee it.
“See you in July.”
Despite McGregor’s plan, he faces being frozen out of the lightweight title picture until Nurmagomedov and Gaethje fight, but has been linked with facing Jorge Masvidal and Nate Diaz among others.
The Irish southpaw was in talks to fight Gaethje this summer, to determine a No1 contender for the belt, as Ferguson was scheduled to meet Nurmagomedov.
In a bid to entice McGregor into a showdown, Gaethje sent several online insults to the former two-weight champion, including calling him a “s*** human, father, and husband”.
But after winning the UFC title, it appeared McGregor took notice, warning the American that he will “butcher” him for his past comments.
He said: “Justin, there is no danger in a man that hugs legs, we all know. Try and dance around what the real threat is here all you want.
“I am going to f***ing butcher you. Your teeth. I’m going to put them on a f***ing necklace.
“Speak on my skills as a father? You are f***ing dead.”