VANCOUVER - If Conor McGregor wants to shut Justin Gaethje up, he's more than welcome.
Gaethje, slated to fight Donald Cerrone in the headliner of UFC on ESPN+ 16, called for the winner of an expected title fight between champ Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson.
Barring that, Gaethje said McGregor can catch his fists.
"If that little Irish (expletive) wants to come back, then I'm right here, man," Gaethje told reporters, including MMA Junkie, at an open workout for Saturday's event at Rogers Arena. "I'm the perfect guy to bring him back."
McGregor mentioned Gaethje as a potential return opponent, only to turn back to his rival Nurmagomedov, who submitted him last October to defend the UFC lightweight title.
Gaethje was none too pleased and went after McGregor on social media. But he denied doing so to get a payday against the former two-division champ.
The former WSOF champ blasted McGregor as a bad example to his children. Wednesday, he doubled down on that opinion as "the truth."
"Facts are facts," Gaethje said. "You cannot represent yourself in the public eye like that and expect your child to respect what you do. You are an influence. You are a hero to your children, and you are a fool to think they are not going to follow in your footsteps."
Gaethje said his breaking point came when he saw McGregor strike an elderly gentleman in a Dublin bar, an action that drew widespread condemnation from his fans and followers and prompted a public apology. He also cited McGregor slapping a phone out of a fan's hand, for which criminal charges were filed before the fan declined to cooperate with prosecutors.
"I've got a human services major - social work," he said. "Being here is just a circumstance of my life. To see him treat people like that, to see him take a phone, even before he takes the phone and smashes it, to see him walk around with his chest in the air like that, do not represent yourself like that. I will never respect you."