Justin Gaethje is already cashing his “Fight of the Night” check.
“The Highlight” will collide with fellow lightweight striking sensation Rafael Fiziev in the upcoming UFC 286 pay-per-view (PPV) co-main event, scheduled for this Sat. night (March 18, 2023) inside The O2 in London, England, with the winner maintaining a strong position in the 155-pound title chase.
“I think every year I’ve had ‘Fight of the Year,’ so yeah, this is bound to be that, especially with the dance partner that I have in there,” Gaethje said on Episode 2 of UFC 286 “Embedded” (watch Ep. 1 here). “I think he’s gonna bring it. Young, hungry ... where I was five years ago. Full of himself like I was five years ago, so I can’t wait to serve him some humble pie. I’m willing to go through fire. We’re going to a dark place on Saturday and I’m planning on drowning him.”
Gaethje, seated three spots above Fiziev in the official lightweight rankings, fell to 23-4 with his submission loss to then-champion Charles Oliveira in the UFC 274 headliner back in early 2022, the second time “The Highlight” came up short for the division title.
Fiziev (12-1) got a rude welcome to UFC when Magomed Mustafaev cleaned his clock in April 2019. Since that debut loss, “Ataman” has been nothing short of spectacular, racking up six straight wins with three highlight-reel knockouts (including this showstopper).
Somehow I don’t think this fight sees a third round.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 286 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard on ESPN2/ESPN+ at 3 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC 286: “Edwards vs. Usman 3” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here. For the updated and finalized UFC 286 fight card and PPV lineup click here.