After he made his UFC debut earlier this year, knocking out Michael Johnson in a thrilling Fight of the Year contender, Justin Gaethje shouted to the world, “Where is my equal?!” Turns out, he found his equal in his very next fight, getting knocked out by Eddie Alvarez at UFC 218 earlier this month. And though the loss was the first of Gaethje’s career and set him back in his goal to hold UFC gold one day, Gaethje wouldn’t have it any other way.
Speaking to MMA Tonight on SiriusXM Rush recently, Gaethje said that he was happy with his performance at UFC 218 and glad that he was knocked out instead of losing on the judge’s scorecards.
“It’s crazy, the way I fight, it’s definitely hard to – I would argue to anybody that I won the first round,” Gaethje explained. “I did some major damage to his lead leg in that first round. He did a good job of putting his hands on me but definitely didn’t do a lot of damage. He definitely beat me in that second round and in the third round, I thought it was a close fight. If it would have went to the scorecards, I’m sure he would have got it because of the takedown or something and he was a little bit more active with punches but I cause a lot of damage when I do land my strikes and it’s hard to judge that.
“I’m glad I got knocked out instead of going to a decision and losing because that’s not the way I want to lose. I’m happy with my performance. I feel like I won because I tried so hard. My preparation was there and ultimately I went out and did what I go to do and that’s entertain people and entertain myself really. And I had fun.”
The bout was immensely entertaining, winning one of two Fight of the Night bonuses given out for UFC 218 and figuring to be on the short list for Fight of the Year consideration. At the end of the day though, the bout, like all Gaethje’s fights, was exciting in large part to the devil-may-care attitude with which he fights, a style even Gaethje has previously admitted will shorten his MMA career substantially. But despite having now been stopped in violent fashion, Gaethje says that isn’t going to change his approach at all other than some fine-tuning.
“At the end of the day, it’s an unforgiving sport,” said Gaethje. “All of a sudden I could get knocked out three times, so you just never know with this sport. I’m definitely not gonna change anything. There’s not a lot of people that can sit there and take the punishment that I can deliver.
“I need to be in better shape. I was definitely trying to avoid grappling exchanges because I didn’t want to get tired . . . but those are things that can be fixed.”
As for what’s next for Gaethje, the fifth-ranked lightweight, says that he is hoping to fight twice a year going forward and would preferably like to return this summer but he doesn’t have a specific opponent in mind because since he lost, he doesn’t feel like he gets to call the shots. Instead, Gaethje says he’s happy to fight whoever the UFC puts in front of him but that realistically, they’re smart enough to put someone in front of him that will make sense and get him back on track to chase the belt.
“With the way I fight, the UFC’s not stupid,” said Gaethje. “For one, they probably know that they’re don’t have me forever. I’m not gonna be around. They don’t have but six to seven more fights out of me. I believe that I’m one of the top competitors in this division in the world, so I’m gonna keep fighting people at the top of the division for right now.
“I definitely would have wanted to call someone out ahead of me had I won this fight but since I lost I don’t think I have that position anymore. But they’re not gonna make me fight someone way back there. From a business standpoint, of course I’m not gonna fight someone that’s unranked or something like that. I think I’m on the same page as the UFC right now and luckily, one loss doesn’t kill you. Two or three does so I’ve got to go out there, and get a big win in my next fight, it doesn’t matter who it’s against.”
220. Stipe Miocic says he’s “not going to be stupid” against Francis Ngannou.
Surgery. Tyron Woodley says he is getting shoulder surgery after all.
Worst. Quinton Jackson explains why he thinks America MMA fans are “the worst.”
Bite. Gabriel Benitez discusses his reaction when Jason Knight bit him at UFC Fresno.
Heart-warming. Diego Sanchez discussed fulfilling the dreams of superfan Isaac Marquez by fighting him.
Holm-Cyborg extended preview.
Woodley on TMZ.
Coach Roddy on the choke.
Shouting out the history that was made two years ago yesterday.
Heavy Hands. Breaking down Lawler-RDA and Perry-Ponz at UFC Winnipeg.
Bushido Talk. Discussing Mayweather, Joanna, and fight bonuses.
JRE MMA Show. Interviewing Stipe Miocic about life and Francis Ngannou.
SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE
— Platinum Mike Perry (@PlatinumPerry) December 13, 2017
This sport, especially the @ufc, is packed with the biggest group of cowards in professional sports. All that bs hyping up guys and their courage is all garbage. I genuinely hate this sport and most of the fighters, most the time. Real hate.
— Anthony Smith (@lionheartsmith) December 13, 2017
Colby being Colby.
Tyquil @TWooodley loves lightweights. https://t.co/wAJDoWBUna
— Colby Covington (@ColbyCovMMA) December 13, 2017
We all know #TwoFaceTyrone @TWooodley, we expect lies from him. But @kennyflorian you were 5-2 and got a title shot because when people squinted it looked like Sean Sherk was fighting Ben Stiller. You know better #SimpleJack https://t.co/hsH5iAtzNe
— Colby Covington (@ColbyCovMMA) December 14, 2017
Catch more flies with honey.
Which one of you clowns ranked above me in the top 15 wants to fight me Feb 18th in Austin Tx and get your ass whipped in my home state?
— James Vick (@JamesVickMMA) December 14, 2017
How bad do you want it https://t.co/yqZX1NH7bq
— Gokhan Saki (@gokhantherebel) December 13, 2017
T.J. spars with outstanding people.
Current K-1 Ace Takeru training with UFC Bantamweight Champion TJ Dillashaw. pic.twitter.com/xat6f4S3jr
— AcidHaze (@AcidHaze) December 13, 2017
Mitch Clarke trying to get in and help with the Edmonton issue.
So @unifiedmma has been canceled by the city. Tell @doniveson and city council that this is an injustice and we need to fix the problems associated with combat sports in our city. I’ve volunteered to help and give insight from a fighter and coach perspective. Please RT
— Mitch Clarke (@MitchClarkeMMA) December 14, 2017
Short notice isn’t the easiest sell.
@alexvolkanovski lets sign that contract big boy. 8 weeks!
— Jeremy Kennedy (@JeremyKennedyWC) December 13, 2017
Someone get quality control on the phone.
What the hell, he’s not even throwing an uppercut. Should be called “slip-Jab to the body” pic.twitter.com/nvVQAhaPuJ
— Angela Hill (@AngieOverkill) December 13, 2017
Kamaru Usman (11-1) vs. Emil Meek (9-2, 1 NC); UFC 220, Jan. 20.
TODAY IN MMA HISTORY
2012: Alexander Volkov won the vacant heavyweight title at Bellator 84 when he beat Richard Hale by unanimous decision.
2013: Demetrious Johnson successfully defend his UFC flyweight title, knocking Joseph Benavidez out cold in their rematch at UFC on Fox 2.
That’s all for today folks. Take it easy and see y’all tomorrow.
If you find something you’d like to see in the Morning Report, hit me up on Twitter @JedKMeshew and let me know about it. Also follow MMAFighting on Instagram, add us on Snapchat at MMA-Fighting, and like us on Facebook.