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Monday Morning Hangover: What’s next for Justin Gaethje after submission loss at UFC 274?

UFC 274: Oliveira v Gaethje Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

UFC 274 went down this past weekend(Sat., May 7, 2022) in Phoenix, Ariz., leaving plenty of fighters feeling the post-fight blues, including Tony Ferguson, who was brutally knocked out by Michael Chandler with a perfectly-placed front kick to the kisser (see it again here). And Rose Namajunas, who coughed up her women’s Strawweight strap to Carla Esparza after 25 minutes of lackluster action. But, which fighter is suffering from the worst post-fight hangover, now a few days removed from the show?

Justin Gaethje.

Coming into his second Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) title fight, Gaethje was looking to right the wrong following his submission loss to Khabib Nurmagoemdov at UFC 254 back in Oct. 2020, losing via triangle choke to “The Eagle” in what was his first attempt to win UFC gold.

And things started off great for “Highlight,” connecting on huge shots and dropping the champion to his butt with sniper-like precision. On a few occasions, Oliveira was trying to goad Gaethje to go down to the floor with him, but the striker was having none of it ... until he had no other choice.

After an exchange on the feet, Oliveira dropped Gaethje with a stiff right hook. And it didn’t take long for the Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist to pounce in search of a fight-ending submission. And he wound up getting just that, forcing Gaethje to tap to a rear-naked choke right as he was on the verge of taking a nap.

After the loss, Gaethje didn’t speak to the media nor Joe Rogan inside the cage, but he did post a short and simple message on social media congratulating Oliveira for his last conquest inside the Octagon.

“Name of the game. Appreciate all the love. Congrats to @CharlesDoBronxs,” he wrote on Twitter.

It’s a tough loss for Gaethje, who is now winless (0-2) in UFC title fights, which will make it harder for him to get another crack. That’s because this time around it’s going to take more than one impressive victory to get him back to the big dance. Still, “Highlight” has shown he can rack up highlight-reel finishes in a hurry, which is what he will need if he wants to get back to a title fight.

As for what’s next, there are a few options. Naturally, a rematch against Dustin Poirier seems ideal since they are both coming off defeats to Oliveira, but I’d much rather see Poirier face off against Michael Chandler.

And other option is Beneil Dariush should UFC matchmakers opt to pass on re-booking Dariush against Islam Makhachev by giving the Dagestani-born fighter a shot at “Do Bronx.” But, the fresh fight that I think is one most aren’t thinking about is a showdown between the winner of Rafael dos Anjos vs. Rafael Fiziev, which is set for July 9, 2022.

Gaethje has to to face either man and if it’s a slugfest he wants, he will get it from both men. While Gaethje will be coming off a loss, he is still ranked No. 1, though he will likely drop a spot or two in the coming days. That said, he will still be ranked higher than both “RDA” and “Ataman” come fight night.

Thoughts?


For complete UFC 274 results and coverage click here.