Justin Gaethje says Conor McGregor no longer has control over the lightweight division.
"He's losing his clout," Gaethje said Friday, according to ESPN's Brett Okamoto. "I don't mean with the general public, but with fighters, he's losing so much respect in the game."
Gaethje is coming off an impressive win over Tony Ferguson at UFC 249, where he captured the interim lightweight title and set up a title unification bout with undefeated champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.
On Monday, though, McGregor promised to "butcher" Gaethje in the Octagon and guaranteed they would fight next - a notion Gaethje clearly disagrees with.
"He doesn't hold the cards right now," Gaethje said of McGregor. "I put myself in a great position. I asked for a say in my destiny and I showed up. Now, I can pick between Khabib and Conor. ...
"Dana White laughed whenever they told him Conor said he was fighting me (next). He said, 'No, Gaethje is fighting Khabib.' You're still worth all the money in the game, that's true. But you're losing clout when it comes to inside the game."
Gaethje added of a matchup with Nurmagomedov: "That's the fight I want. That's the fight I earned and deserve. It's the only fight out there for me right now."
The interim champ noted that his bout with Nurmagomedov could take place in September, after which he'd take on McGregor.
"When I beat Khabib, I will fight Conor because I'm trying to cash in," Gaethje said. "Whether he fights or not (in the meantime) - do I think he should fight? Absolutely. But there are so many jokes you could make about his next fight. I don't know who he'd fight. One of the main requirements is you have to be coming off a loss."