Justin Gaethje has branded Charles Oliveira a coward ahead of their lightweight title bout at UFC 274, claiming ‘Do Bronx’ will always be a ‘quitter’ at heart.
Gaethje’s comments come after ‘The Highlight’ was asked how well he matches up with Oliveira compared to previous lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, who beat ‘The Highlight’ via second-round submission at UFC 254.
Gaethje doesn’t think Oliveira is on Khabib’s level, claiming the latter was leagues ahead of the current champ.
“They’re definitely not the same athlete,” Gaethje told the media ahead of UFC 274 (h/t Alexander K. Lee of MMA Fighting). “And Charles certainly is not more dangerous than Khabib. His ability to take damage is not the same, proven through the times we’ve seen him fight. All my criticism of Charles is from a kid that we were talking about, that we all watched grow, and now we’re talking about a man with confidence. It’s a different person, but ultimately the same Charles is still there.
“The same Charles that fought Cub Swanson. The same Charles that fought Donald Cerrone. The same Charles that fought [Anthony] Pettis. Choices were made in that by him and the choice to quit was made, and I’m going to give him that choice on Saturday night, I guarantee that.”
“I think that’s true, however, once a coward always a coward,” Gaethje said when asked if Oliveira has evolved since the aforementioned losses. “I’m not calling him a coward, but I’m saying that’s — you can’t just take that away. It’s there. Khabib never showed you that, and that’s why you can’t compare those two.”
When asked to give his prediction for the fight, Gaethje predicted a one-sided beatdown against Oliveira similar to his previous mauling of Tony Ferguson at UFC 249 where Gaethje TKO’d ‘El Cucuy’ in the fifth round.
“I create car crashes, and I am the object with the most force,” Gaethje said. “Same mass. If he wants to play the game, I’m more than happy. He won’t. He will have to.
“This will be just like Tony Ferguson. He will try to get this to the ground, and he will be stuck fighting my fight. That’s the name of the game.”
UFC 274: Oliveira vs. Gaethje takes place this Saturday, May 7, at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona.