Justin Gaethje thinks the UFC dropped the ball in how it’s handled business at the very top of the lightweight division.

Gaethje, the former UFC title challenger and current top contender, believes the title picture at 155 pounds was managed poorly by the UFC and president Dana White in the past few months.

Currently, the UFC has yet to strip champion Khabib Nurmagomedov even though he retired back in October, and No. 1 contender Dustin Poirier has expressed discontent and is refusing to fight former Bellator champion Michael Chandler.

Gaethje (22-3 MMA, 5-3 UFC) thinks the start of this conundrum began at UFC 256 back in October when he challenged Nurmagomedov for the title in Abu Dhabi.

“The reason why this is happening with Poirier is because Dana White used, he tried to, he did, he (explicit) Tony (Ferguson) and Dustin,” Gaethje told MMA Junkie on Monday. “He said (explicit) you guys, I’m going to take Chandler, and he’s going to be the backup for this title fight. That all happened four months ago. We are humans, we have principles, we have morals, and that’s what that is. That’s why Dustin Poirier is saying (he won’t fight Chandler). Well, I would assume. I don’t talk to the guy.

“He didn’t just (explicit) Dustin Poirier, He didn’t just (explicit) on Tony Ferguson. He (explicit) on every single (explicit) fighter that wants to do it right and wants integrity to the sport, and that’s why Dustin Poirier is talking like he is.”

Gaethje thinks the UFC’s decision to make the newly signed Chandler a backup fighter for his UFC 256 title fight, while also not taking the necessary steps to finalize the booking between Tony Ferguson and Poirier in the co-main event, rubbed many lightweights the wrong way.

Ferguson, unhappy with the situation, went on to fight and lose to Charles Oliveira this past December, several weeks after UFC 256. Meanwhile, Poirier ended up fighting last month and avenged his 2014 loss to Conor McGregor with a TKO win at UFC 257. Afterward, Poirier expressed losing interest in the fight game politics and said he refuses to fight Chandler.

“That’s just the truth. You remember how upset Tony and Dustin were when they didn’t put that fight together (at UFC 256),” Gaethje said. “They were probably $50,000 or $100,000 off one of their contracts, and they didn’t put the contract together and those guys were ready to fight.

“They put it in the public, and that (explicit) is not right. I don’t like that as a fighter. I don’t like that as an employee. Well, I’m no (explicit) employee but being somebody that offers my services to the company. That’s not cool. You don’t want to see that. … I just know that’s why Dustin is saying what he’s saying, and that’s why he won’t fight Chandler for the title right now because they did that (explicit) in October. I don’t know it, but I’m pretty sure.”

Despite thinking the UFC didn’t handle the title picture properly, Gaethje is in no way unhappy with the UFC. He’s glad he got paid well for the UFC 254 title fight, and he’s itching to get booked to fight again so he can bounce back from the loss to Nurmagomedov.

“I’m happy. I’m not dissatisfied,” Gaethje said. “I don’t want to fight anywhere else. This is the company to showcase your skills at the highest level. I try to be a company man since Day 1.”

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