Justin Gaethje is getting his second shot at UFC gold when he faces Charles Oliveira at UFC 274.
There’s something about a fighter like Gaethje gunning for a title that’s fun to watch. The average UFC fan likely did not see his run towards the inaugural World Series of Fighting (WSOF) lightweight title and his five title defenses, six if you include the win over Melvin Guillard who missed weight. It was a good time worth re-watching if you missed it. He never lost that belt and when the WSOF rebranded to the Professional Fighters League (PFL), he went to begin his run in the UFC.
Gaethje did not suffer his first loss until he arrived in the UFC, and even then it took former Bellator and UFC lightweight champion, Eddie Alvarez to hand him the first loss. However, in the fights Gaethje has lost, there are always those moments where it seemed he could have won. “Kill or be killed,” is an old quote but fighters like Gaethje are living examples of that philosophy being put in practice in the cage.
“I create car crashes and I am the object with the most force.” -Justin Gaethje
On media day for UFC 274, Gaethje who is the underdog for oddsmakers in this fight made mention of what separates him from the current champion. Citing Oliveira’s losses to Cub Swanson, Donald Cerrone, Anthony Pettis, and Rafael dos Anjos, Gaethje said; “Choices were made by him and the choice to quit was made. And I’m going to give him that choice on Saturday night I guarantee that.”
It’s a wonder why Gaethje is the underdog, but when looking at his three losses against Oliveira’s wins, it is likely Oliveira’s submission prowess that produced those numbers. 20 of Oliveira’s 32 wins come by way of submission so the chances of him winning any fight using the gentle art of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu are great.
But Gaethje is far from gentle.