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Justin Gaethje admits that Donald Cerrone knocked him out in sparring in 2012

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UFC Fight Night: Barboza v Gaethje Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Justin Gaethje (21-2) is a really unique fighter. The decorated wrestler routinely makes entertainment his top priority above victory, willingly walking into absurd brawls in which both fighters take huge amounts of damage. He’s nonetheless become a top-contender as a result of grit and power, recently picking up a pair of knockout wins in his last two bouts to re-enter title contention.

Almost as interesting as Gaethje’s actual fights is his complete calmness with the consequences of his fighting style. He’s well-aware of the risks and pitfalls, openly admitting upon joining the UFC roster as an undefeated fighter that he would eventually get knocked out.

In a similar vein, Gaethje was far more forthcoming than most of his peers would be when asked about how his 2012 sparring sessions with Donald Cerrone. “Cowboy” is his upcoming opponent at UFC Fight Night 158, but there is no holding back with Gaethje.

When asked about the sparring session, Gaethje candidly replied, “Yeah, he knocked me out... He dropped me in sparring, it was 2012. I don’t even know if I ever had a pro fight at the time. I was a kid then and a man now and I’m excited to get in there and give him back that one.” In addition, “The Highlight” was adamant that it would have no effect on their upcoming match up, “Oh absolutely not. Nothing pops into my head when the fight’s going on... It’s pure instincts. You cannot think, it’s too fast to watch.”

Add this in as another bit of evidence to the rumors that Cerrone goes very hard in the gym.

Assuming Gaethje’s 2012 estimate is correct, it was a very different time in the careers of both men. Gaethje entered the year with three professional wins to his name and spent it fighting in local promotions. Cerrone, meanwhile, picked up a pair of big wins in the Octagon over Melvin Guillard and Jeremy Stephens, victories that set him up for a title eliminator with Anthony Pettis.

Safe to say, things are different now. Seven years later, both fighters are ranked in the top five at 155 lbs. Gaethje currently stands at roughly a 2-1 favorite over “Cowboy,” likely a result of Gaethje winning his last two via quick knockout whereas Cerrone came up short last time out opposite Tony Ferguson.

Is there a main event that better guarantees excitement than this one?

To see the latest UFC Fight Night 158: “Gaethje Vs. Cerrone” fight card click here.