Justin Gaethje talks about beating UFC Lightweight King Islam Makhachev
If Justin Gaethje gets his third crack at the undisputed UFC lightweight gold, he said he can knock out Islam Makhachev and take his crown.
Gaethje spoke to TMZ about two weeks after his last Octagon outing. He defended his top-five finish by rejecting rising Rafael Fiziev via majority decision at UFC 286 on March 19. It was Gaethje’s first fight since his second failed attempt to secure the division’s belt. “The Highlight” fought Charles Oliveira at UFC 274 and suffered a rear naked choke in the first round.
With Gaethje back in the Victory Column, he faces a top contender fight with Dustin Poirier or the loser of the upcoming UFC 288 co-main event between Oliveira and Beneil Dariush.
Gaethje said he has the power to take out anyone, including Makhachev
And if he ever gets caged with Makhachev, Gaethje believes he can get the job done, even if it’s a “tough fight”.
“Yes, I think it’s a tough fight,” Gaethje said of the potential pairing. “[It’s] a tough fight for everyone. Obviously he’s the champion for a reason. Just deal damage – I would have the perfect fight, similar to the fight I just fought, similar to the fight I fought Tony Ferguson where every time they enter my room I control the room. I deal damage. And that gives me the space I need to perform.
“Obviously a lot of grappling – I’m not getting any better at submission grappling than he is at the moment. But the cardiovascular capacity I would need to gain to comfortably hold this fight would be absolutely the main focus.
“I think I can knock him out,” Gaethje continued. “I think I can obviously KO anyone with the power I have.”
Gaethje compared Makhachev to his former opponent Khabib Nurmagomedov
Gaethje received his first opportunity to win the undisputed UFC lightweight title in 2020. He fought then-champion Khabib Nurmagomedov as an interim belt holder. Unfortunately for Gaethje, he was beaten within two rounds by The Eagle. He was choked unconscious courtesy of Nurmagomedov’s triangle choke.
While the 29-0 fighter lives in retirement, his teammate and friend Makhachev has taken his old throne. Gaethje told the outlet that although Nurmagomedov and Makhachev are similar fighters, there is one striking difference.
“I think they are very similar,” Gaethje said. “I think the biggest difference is that Islam is over. You know he lost a fight. He’s done and that aura of invisibility is there, but it’s not based on 100 percent fact like Khabib. I think that’s the biggest factor, the biggest difference.
“I think Khabib knows I’m doing harm. I have done harm in this fight and Islam has seen this fight too. So I think it’s going to be a very similar fight to the Khabib fight. But I don’t have to be on my hind legs that much. I need to create more angles and do more damage early on.”
Makhachev has a professional MMA record of 24-1. He is on a 12-fight win streak that began after his KO loss to Adriano Martins at UFC 192 in 2015.
https://heavy.com/sports/ufc/justin-gaethje-sounds-off-on-fighting-lightweight-king-islam-makhachev/ Justin Gaethje talks about beating UFC Lightweight King Islam Makhachev