Justin Gaethje doesn’t care for the Baddest Motherf—ker (BMF) title that he’ll soon be fighting for on Sat., July 29, 2023.
Indeed, UFC 291 marks the return of the BMF belt after it was originally expected to be a one-time spectacle at UFC 244 in Nov. 2019 when Jorge Masvidal and Nate Diaz battled it out in a Welterweight affair. Masvidal won the fight via a third round technical knockout (doctor’s stoppage) and has since retired, therefore, allowing the promotion to revive the platinum-colored strap.
At the time, Gaethje wasn’t very fond of the concept of an essentially meaningless title. His feelings haven’t changed despite his involvement in the second-ever BMF fight in mixed martial arts (MMA) history.
“My true assessment: When Masvidal and Diaz fought for it I was like, ‘This is stupid.’ I still think it’s kind of stupid,” Gaethje told Cageside Press (h/t MMA Junkie). “However, to the fans that say it’s stupid, I say that it’s ultimately the UFC giving one more fighter one more opportunity to win and to gain an opportunity to get pay-per-view points. This belt, just like interim belts, on paper, are a championship. You are a champion in the eyes of the UFC, and when you are a champion in the eyes of the UFC, you get paid different.
“So to the people who say it’s stupid, it’s the UFC throwing a bone like we always ask them to throw a bone and they never do,” he continued. “So I’m thankful there is an opportunity that I get to fight for. Especially because there is only one in the world. It’s a cool-looking belt. I think it’s a little bit of a show, but I think it’s ultimately UFC throwing a bone, and I’ve got to be thankful for that.”
Gaethje’s dance partner for the return of the BMF crown will be a familiar foe, Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier. The pairing of former UFC interim Lightweight titleholders put on a “Fight of the Year” in April 2018 that ultimately resulted in a fourth round technical knockout win with punches for Poirier.
Both are 6-2 in their eight fights since, losing exclusively in undisputed title bids.
“Since that fight, I certainly have grown,” Gaethje said. “I’m five years older. I was 29 years old. A lot of big fights between that day and today and the day that I’ll fight him. I am human and I am susceptible to make mistakes. I think I made a huge mistake in the Oliveira fight, I became super emotional.
“And I think that’s one thing I will not allow to happen this fight and I think it’s going to be somewhat of a chess match, but with both of us trying to create damage at all times,” Gaethje concluded. “Five rounds, obviously you’ve got to fight smart. Championship fight, usually the first one to make a mistake, loses. Ultimately I have to be perfect and I’m fighting a dog.”
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 291 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard on ESPN/ESPN+/ABC at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC 291: “Poirier vs. Gaethje 2”” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.