Throughout his already stellar career, Justin Gaethje only lost thrice: against Eddie Alvarez, Dustin Poirier, and most recently, Khabib Nurmagomedov. There’s obviously no shame in losing to the three elite 155-pounders, but as revealed by the human “Highlight,” his defeat at the hands of “The Eagle” stung differently.
In his recent UFC Unfiltered interview with Megan Olivi and comedian Jim Norton, Gaethje shared some of the sobering realizations that hit him mid-fight at UFC 254.
Losing to Dustin and Eddie was different than this one. This one hurt, but it was… I don’t know, man. I gave everything that night, and he is great and what he was fighting with, with the death of his father. I really felt that power in there.
And I just don’t think that no matter what I did or how great I was — next to the one-in-a-million, shut-their-lights-out shot — which doesn’t happen often, then it was gonna be hard for me to win.
I’m confident… I need to be confident that nobody on planet Earth at 155 pounds can, number one, take those shots. Two, walk through those shots and continue to pressure me and take me down and be that effective.
Ultimately, it was the biggest stage in the world for the number one prize in the world. And I was chasing something great. I failed, but it’s definitely something — unless you’re Khabib — that you will experience on your way to greatness.
Gaethje will return to the Octagon after a year-long absence to face Michael Chandler at UFC 268 in November. The two have already been exchanging pleasantries online, and for this recent one, Gaethje is having the last word.
He says the first one to take a step back is a timid soul. There’s not one thing he can say that’s gonna affect the way that I approach this fight or the way that I approach… I will take a step backwards. He can shove it up his ass.
You’re gonna see a timid soul when I start kicking him, and he’s gonna start shooting for legs to try and wrestle. And that’ll be his definition of a bitch, 100%. And that’s what we’ll see midway through the first round.