The UFC Fighter Khabib Nurmagomedov Told To Face Conor McGregor
At UFC 249 in May, Gaethje produced a career-defining performance to beat Tony Ferguson and become interim lightweight champion - and set up a unification title bout with the undefeated Khabib.
And through Ali Abdelaziz, who manages both fighters, Khabib urged Gaethje to square off against McGregor - though he was not onboard with the suggestion.
He told TMZ Sports: "Justin said no, Khabib told me to tell Justin to go fight Conor, Justin said no.
"Listen, we dictate this, Conor right now, he can be a back-up fighter, he can go make win, he can maybe make some money.
"He's [McGregor] not even number three, he's number four or five.
"Conor he can go fight [Jorge] Masvidal, we have no interest in fighting him, he needs to get some wins, he needs to fight some good opponents."
Prior to his "retirement announcement", McGregor had been very vocal about wanting a rematch with Khabib following his dismal defeat at UFC 229 - and of course the absolute madness that followed post-fight at the T-Mobile Arena.
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According to Abdelaziz, there's only one way the Irishman can get another shot at Khabib.
Abdelaziz stated: "I said, the only way he can fight Khabib is if he fights Islam Makhachev and Khabib will fight him."
Khabib vs Gaethje is expected to happen at the end of the year, as per Abdelaziz, though Dana White has been giving 'The Eagle' time to grieve following the death of his father, Abdulmanap.
McGregor, who ripped into Gaethje and the rest of the lightweight contenders following UFC 249, said UFC should have put him and Gaethje for the interim title.
He told ESPN in June: "They should have just kept the ball rolling. I mean, why are they pushing [Khabib vs Gaethje] back to September?
"You know what's going to happen in September, something else is going to happen in September, and that's not going to happen. I laid out a plan and a method that was the right move, the right methods to go with.
"And they always want to baulk at that and not make it happen or just drag it on. Whatever I say, they want to go against it to show some kind of power. They should have just done the fight -- me and Justin for the interim title -- and just kept the ball rolling."