Justin Gaethje is training hard for his UFC 254 title fight against lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. Possibly a bit too hard.
Video has just surfaced of Gaethje eating a pretty big head kick during a sparring session with an unnamed training partner. Even with shin pads on, it’s definitely not the kid of kick you want to see a UFC main eventer eating en route to the biggest fight of his career.
Of course, Justin Gaethje is no stranger to getting hit hard. His early career was marked by reckless abandon and a willingness to walk through as much damage as his opponent could dish out. His chin has held up in 22 of his 24 pro fights, but still ... damn man.
Watch the video, care of Warriorz on Instagram:
Nowadays Gaethje has leveled up under his coach Trevor Wittman, and the amount of evolution he’s made was on full display in his latest fight against Tony Ferguson back in May. “The Highlight” outstruck Tony Ferguson, one of the slick strikers in the promotion, and largely did it without leaving his head out to be used like a punching bag in the past.
“You can’t get hit, if you don’t get hit,” Gaethje said when he and Wittman were on the Joe Rogan Experience. “If you conserve your energy, if you pick your shots. I never used to pick my shots. I was really able to start picking my shots.”
That’s ... either the smartest or dumbest thing I’ve ever read. But Gaethje has clearly internalized not getting hit in a way that allows him to keep swanging and banging while removing himself from positions where he used to take heaps of damage. So much damage that back in 2018 we made a video about the boggling amount of damage he used to take.
So it’s good that he doesn’t any more ... except from time to time in practice, apparently. We’d suggest Gaethje and his training partners chill out a little bit, but we know that’s not going to happen. Just please, MMA Gods. Let’s get to UFC 254 on October 25th without an injury taking out the main event.