Justin Gaethje is combat sports fan dream fighter. Gaethje is the classic “take one to give one” type of fighter. The thing about Gaethje’s style is that it is a high-risk high-reward style. Gaethje fights with reckless abandon and its the reason why he is so great, but it could possibly be the reason for a potential downfall.
Gaethje has two fights in the UFC and he is 1-1 in those fights. Gaethje’s debut fight with Michael Johnson was a back and forth slugfest that had Gaethje hurt multiple times. In the end, Gaethje was able to impose his will on Johnson for the TKO victory, like he did in many of his World Series of Fighting bouts Gaethje outmuscled his opponent. Every time Gaethje steps into the cage he knows that he’s going to leave a piece of himself in there. Gaethje took a long layoff after the Johnson fight to coach the Ultimate Fighter against Eddie Alvarez.
Gaethje took on former Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez at UFC 217 in a FOTY candidate. This time Gaethje wasn’t able to impose his will to victory. Gaethje wasn’t able to outmuscle his opponent. Alvarez and Gaethje went blow for blow for three rounds until Alvarez landed a stiff knee to the face of an exhausted Gaethje that led to the fight being stopped. This was the first loss of Justin Gaethje’s 18 fight career.
Gaethjes style is one that when you watch him in person you wouldn’t be surprised if he was 18-0 or 0-18. Gaethje is willing to do whatever it takes to win and puts himself in harms way more often than he should. Gaethje’s loss to Alvarez might be a wake-up call to start fighting smarter. Gaethje can’t expect to keep fighting this way in the UFC and expect to be in the UFC in for a long time. Gaethje’s stay in the UFC will be short if he doesn’t change things up.
Photo by Esther Lin, MMA Fighting