Justin Gaethje always fights at 100 miles per hour, and he has no plans to slow down any time soon.
Gaethje returns to action in the co-main event of UFC 286, where he takes on Rafael Fiziev in a potential show-stealer of a lightweight bout that has the fans eagerly anticipating the showdown of two of the biggest crowd-pleasers in the 155-pound division.
It’s a fight that promises plenty of fast-paced action, and that’s exactly how Gaethje likes it. In fact, that’s how he always operates when he’s in the Octagon.
“It’s moving so fast, I definitely cannot remember a thought,” he told reporters during media day in London.
“Your ability to retain information in there is non-existent. It’s moving so fast, and if you take time to retain information, your peripherals, your intuition just goes out the window for one or two seconds, and we’re fighting less than one or two seconds, less than inches, so there’s no time for any of that.”
Gaethje has made Octagon wars his stock-in-trade during a fighting career that has more than lived up to his fighting moniker of “The Highlight.” It’s also something he’s fiercely proud of, as he told us.
“I’m the most exciting fighter that has ever stepped in that Octagon in the history of this sport,” he declared.
“Of course, I pride myself on that. I don’t just believe it, you believe it. You all believe it. You know it to be true.
“It’s not on purpose, it’s just who I am. That’s how I compete. I’m cut from this cloth.”
On paper, his bout with Fiziev looks like a guarantee of fireworks, and Gaethje admitted that he’s suitably impressed with his opposite number’s striking abilities. But he also stated that he thinks he holds the key advantages in the striking realm.
“He’s got some crazy skills, especially to the untrained eye,” he said.
“This guy is the best of the best. I think I can take advantage of certain situations. I think I can create more damage in certain situations. I think I can control distance better and I’m going to have to be perfect on Saturday in order for that to be the case.”
It’s a fight that pits an elite striker with a decorated wrestler who loves nothing better than to stand and bang. But, as he told us at the end of his media session, don’t be surprised if he turns to his wrestling pedigree to help get him the win on Saturday night.
When we asked him if we might see some of his little-seen offensive wrestling in the matchup, he replied, “I’m not opposed to it. But we’ll see…”