Justin Gaethje is one of the most exciting fighters in mixed martial arts (MMA) history. If you disagree with that statement then you’ve probably never seen “Highlight” compete inside of the cage.
But after losing his second-straight fight in devastating fashion last night (Sat., April 14, 2018) at UFC on FOX 29 from inside Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona, in the form of a fourth-round TKO defeat to Dustin Poirier, fight fans are wondering how long Gaethje can keep this up.
After all, he isn’t just losing fights, or winning them, with one punch. Gaethje practically walks through hell in each and every one of his fights. The 29-year-old simply tucks his chin, bulls forward, and tries to tire his opponents out by more or less letting them unload on him.
Unfortunately for Gaethje, Poirier didn’t completely exhaust, which allowed “Diamond” to score a big finish late into the fight.
“I didn’t come into this sport to win or lose. It is the entertainment factor for me,” said Gaethje during his post-fight media scrum. “I will be known and remembered as one of the most entertaining fighters that ever did it. I’m content with what just happened, as stupid and crazy as that sounds. I felt so comfortable in there, best I ever felt.
“I go in there to entertain people. This is the entertainment business,” he continued. “I’ve never been worried about winning and losing. The only thing I’m scared of, is not performing, and not putting on an entertaining fight. That sounds stupid, but it’s what I signed up for. It’s my purpose.”
Win or lose, UFC certainly understands Gaethje’s value. His Octagon debut against Michael Johnson last July was a main event and so was his clash with “Diamond” last night, even coming off a knockout loss to Eddie Alvarez on pay-per-view (PPV) back at UFC 218. He’s been given the green light to forefront some big shows in the past and that probably won’t change moving forward.
Still, the punishment that Gaethje absorbs on a fight-by-fight basis isn’t really sustainable. Fortunately for his own well being, Gaethje understands the risks of fighting in such a violent fashion and is already putting a cap on his professional mixed martial arts (MMA) career.
“I got about five fights,” Gaethje said. “I want the biggest fights possible. Coming off two losses, that’s hard to say, but you want to see me fight. If you don’t see me fight live, you will regret it when I’m done. And it’s not going to be very long, I’ve got five left.
“I want to golf when I’m 60. I have a human services degree, I want to do social work. Hopefully I can buy a lot of houses and make money that way.”
Considering the UFC’s lightweight division is chock-full of dangerous contenders all vying for their position in line for a title, Gaethje will have his chance to rebound once again later this year. And if he runs into an opponent unwilling to mix it up, “Highlight” is likely to draw them into his game and force yet another memorable brawl.
For complete UFC on FOX 29 results and coverage click here.