Justin Gaethje doesn’t see things like most fighters. You would expect at 18-0 fighter to be all confidence, talking about never losing and being invincible. Not Gaethje. He’s a realist. This is the man that guaranteed he’d get knocked out by someone eventually, just due to his style. He also said that he was “glad” that Alvarez knocked him out, because he never wants to go to a decision.
“Looking back, it lived up to the hype. I told people before that I had the ‘Fight of the Year’ until I fought again, and that’s what I do. It’s what I do every time. I get a bonus every time, and man, I really had a lot of fun in there. That’s first and foremost. It was the time of my life. Honestly, being in front of that many people, being able to put my skills on the line at the highest level on a pay-per-view, all of those things, it was a dream come true for me.
“I have to keep reminding myself that I lost,” Gaethje continued. “I don’t know. I signed up for this. I said it before, I said it many times, that I was going to lose (eventually). If I lost, I hoped that I would get knocked out. All of those things came true. I love the sport, I’m a fan of MMA, I’ve been a fan of MMA since before I started it, I was a fan of Eddie Alvarez before I started fighting, so just the culmination of events that have transpired in my life through hard work, through specifically hard work, it’s just, I’m happy. I’m happy for myself. I’m happy for my family. I’ve been trying to prepare my mom and sisters for all of that for a long time, so when it did happen, they were like, ‘Well, you’ve kinda prepared us for this.’ So it wasn’t that bad.”
He also gave Alvarez his props, and said he liked finding someone he couldn’t break:
“Man, he’s tough. He’s a warrior. I bring it out of people. I’ve been telling people I need to start smiling to my opponents and shaking hands and just being nice, so then when the bell rings, I catch them off-guard, because I used to catch people off-guard, but everyone’s ready now. They know I’m coming full of fury, and he was ready. He was so in shape and his cardio was on point. I couldn’t break him. I broke 18 people in a row. And on my 19th fight, I found someone that I could not break, and I enjoyed it. I appreciated it.
“When he threw that knee, it was perfect timing, perfect spot,” Gaethje added. “He kind of rope-a-doped me. We were sitting there, not relaxing, but I kinda got relaxed for a second because I was so comfortable in the clinch right there, landing those hard uppercuts, and I think we were talking to each other, like, ‘Aha, good one, good one,’ and I was like, ‘Ah, f—k, you’re bringing it all. I’m right here.’ And I think that’s when he kneed me, or it was pretty close to that. But man, I loved it. I love what I do.”
In another refreshing take, Gaethje knows that he fought someone higher than him in the lightweight pecking order and lost, so now he has to give someone below his current number-five ranking a chance. He had two names in mind: