Justin Gaethje might be one of the most honest fighters in MMA at the moment.
Following his two consecutive knockout losses to Dustin Poirier and Eddie Alvarez, “The Highlight” stated that he would likely have five fights left in his career before his retirement.
As he explained to Ariel Helwani on the latest episode of The MMA Hour, Gaethje never planned to make a career out of fighting, but he can see the end in sight. Though he only turns 30 this year, he’s racked up a lot of mileage since making his debut in 2011.
“I’m just telling myself that now because, for one, this is a young man’s game,” Gaethje said.
“There’s gonna be new guys coming in. Every year there’s fresh guys coming in. I happen to have a college education and I never planned on being a fighter. I went to college, I wrestled and I took some amateur fights. When I graduated, I wanted to start using my degree, but I figured I would start fighting professionally. Then I won 18 in a row and I fought Eddie Alvarez on pay-per-view.
“I don’t know, I never thought about being this far or having five fights left. I never planned this whole career that I’ve gotten myself into.”
When he does hang up his gloves, Gaethje believes he will he take up a career in social work.
“I’m hoping to earn enough to buy a few properties, that way I can make money that way and I want to do social work. Working in a juvenile detention center, being a probation officer for at-risk youths, I’ll do something like that. Something nice and stable,” he said.
Given his relentless fighting style and coming off the first two defeats of his career, Gaethje admitted that he was concerned about the health of his brain. That being said, he pointed out that such damage goes hand-in-hand with the fight game.
“Three hard fights in a row, all in the last 12 months, people have said to me that it’s something to worry about,” Gaethje said. “There are guys in the UFC now that have been knocked unconscious seven times, five times, completely unconscious. I have never gone completely unconscious yet. I have passed every single one of my impact tests after the fights.
“Of course it’s a concern, but that’s what we do. We fight for a living. If you watched the Edson (Barboza) and Kevin Lee fight, they took punches. Kevin Lee won but he took that huge spinning head kick and that’s not good for your brain, but it is what we do.
“I can’t go to bed every night scared or worried because this is what I signed up for. This is what I get paid to do. I try to fight twice a year so I don’t add up (the damage) too fast.”