Justin Gaethje isn’t going to make any bold claims about his upcoming Octagon run.
The undefeated former World Series of Fighting lightweight champion became the sport’s latest marquee free agent signing last month when he inked an exclusive deal with the UFC. And although his résumé as one of the most talented and entertaining 155-pound fighters in the world is quite formidable, the only thing Gaethje is vowing is that he’ll continue to bring his own unique brand of violence into the UFC.
“I’m not promising anything,” Gaethje said recently on The MMA Hour. “I’m not promising success. I’m not promising that. I’ll promise you that I will get knocked out here in the next, like, 10 fights, because it’s a game of freakin’ centimeters and fractions of seconds. Come on. I’ve watched every single one of my fights in slow motion, and I live. I beat you to the time. I beat you to the punch. I’m in your face, and you can’t breathe. Not for a second will you be able to breathe.”
Gaethje’s no-nonsense style became a polarizing talking point over the course of his four-year WSOF run. The 28-year-old is unapologetic about his all-offense, always-walk-forward approach to professional fighting — an approach that has thus far worked out just fine. Gaethje, 28, is a perfect 17-0 in his career and was one of WSOF’s biggest stars before exiting the promotion last week, having ended nine of his 10 wins in WSOF via KO/TKO stoppage.
“I love reading comments online,” Gaethje said. “I’m 17-0 with 14 knockouts. That ‘0′ says something. That means that I haven’t been hit hard enough. So, you’ve seen Michael Bisping get freakin’ flying H-bombed from Dan ‘Hendo’ and he comes back. The human body, it’s very fragile, but we can take some damage.
“I’m not here to take damage. I don’t want to not be able to talk. Every single time I fight, I know that … this could be the last time that you’re able to do this, the last time you’re able to talk. You never know what’s going to happen and I think about that every single time I’m in the cage, and I wrap my whole life around that one fight that I have coming up, that right now there is nothing that matters.”
Gaethje has been listening to concern over his style for years, though it only truly picked up steam in 2015 following the conclusion of his rivalry with Luis Palomino. Gaethje and Palomino met twice that year, facing off in back-to-back slugfests, both of which emerged as instant ‘Fight of the Year’ candidates.
But Gaethje has stated countless times that he lives for that kind of action, and he can only shrug when people express worry over how much he gets hit.
“It’s two guys locked in a cage trying to punch each other in the face. Of course I get hit, it’s a fight,” Gaethje said. “I am a Division I All-American wrestler, but I wrestled college wrestling matches, seven minutes long. If I was to go in there and wrestle for seven minutes of a fight, a 25-minute fight, you’re not getting nothing out of me for the rest of the time. So, I’m in there, I’m in there to stay in good position.
“I believe that in physics, when two objects have the same mass, it comes down to force. And whichever object has the most force, then that’s going to win the car crash. And I go into fight and I create car crashes, and I plan on being the object with the most force. My timing and my attitude is what this sport is, and that’s why I’ve been successful so far. I’m not going to change. I put people into deep waters. The first round, they’re talking sh*t. The second round, they’re talking sh*t. The third round, they can’t say sh*t. So, it’s over.”
There’s a chance that Gaethje will learn the limitations of that style in the UFC. The 155-pound division is one of the deepest in the company and any fighter in the top-15 could ruin an undefeated record on any given night. But Gaethje is well aware of that fact, and he simply is excited to face the challenge of competing against the best fighters in the world, consequences be damned.
“I didn’t know this was coming for sure, but you can always sense things, and I knew this was coming,” Gaethje said. “This is the path. This is road. When you tell me that I’m going to not be able to talk (in the future) or stuff, I know that, I picked the road to follow at the beginning. You see all the risks involved, and I took that road. Now I’m committed and it’s too far to turn back, so that’s what I’m going to do. And at the end of this … I have a human services bachelors degree and I want to work social work, I want to work with at-risk youth.
“So hopefully I’m still able to be cognizant enough to do that when I’m done and inspire kids. I’m inspiring so many kids back home where I’m from. I’m from a small town, so that alone right now is pushing me, and everyday I wake up so hungry and so happy to be fulfilling this dream for me and all the people … who have been supporting me the whole time. That is what really makes it all worth it. So I’m just going to keep trucking along, man, one fight at a time and I’m giving it everything.”
Gaethje will face his first UFC test against Michael Johnson on July 7 at The Ultimate Fighter 25 finale — and Gaethje cautioned his opponent not to overlook the level of competition he has trounced thus far.
“You can say the competition isn’t stiff, but go look at the combined record of my opponents,” Gaethje said. “It’s somewhere like 180-50. So I fight people who can fight. I’ve fought warriors. I’ve fought people who should’ve went down when I hit them, and they didn’t. But I’m from a small town, a copper mining family. We work hard, and I’ve got nothing to lose here.”
Source:: mma fighting