LONDON, United Kingdom — Justin Gathegi is a real underdog at UFC 286, and it’s well deserved. With a win, however, he’s looking to quickly return to the top of the featherweight division.
Gaethje (23-4) has Rafael Fiziev in front of him as he looks to break into the top five heavyweights. In this case, Gaethje understands how to fight lower-ranked opponents.
“I think it’s a natural progression of the sport. I’m going to lose, fight for two of my last three titles. Sixth isn’t that far away, so yeah, I think at this point I’m A win has to be won, no matter who it is,” Gaethje told media outlets including Cageside Press at UFC 286’s media day on Wednesday.
“I think I’m third now and I’m going to work my way through the rankings the way I think I should. And then after that, there’s [Dustin] Prie before me, [Charles] Oliveira in front of me, who wants to fight [Beneil] Darius. The winner of this match will fight for the title. So I’m either going to play Poirier next, if not then I’m going to fight for the title. “
Gaethje and Poirier have faced off once before, a match that ended “The Highlight” in the fourth round. But few fans would object to a rematch because the first meeting was so much fun — and Gaethje has always been the sport’s greatest entertainer.
This is something that the members of the high-altitude team are proud of. Of course I’m going to blow up the roof of the arena. I’m the most exciting boxer to step into the octagon in the history of the sport,” exclaimed Gaethje. “Of course, I’m proud of it. “
Mind you, this level of excitement doesn’t come from anything Gaethje consciously planned during the fight. As he explained, “It moves so fast. I definitely don’t remember a single thought. Your ability to retain information in there is non-existent. It moves so fast that if you take the time to retain information, your peripheral equipment, your intuition goes away for a second or two. We fight in less than seconds, less than inches, so there’s no time for that.”
As such, explosive finishes and intense fights are not a factor in his training, nor does he need to lower his expectations for it. “It’s not intentional, it’s who I am. In wrestling, wrestling can be boring, and my wrestling matches are never boring. I don’t know why. I can’t turn it off.”
Watch Justin Gaethje’s full UFC 286 media day above.