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UFC Vancouver: Justin Gaethje’s Just Fine if Opponents Think They’re Fighting a “Dummy”

Some folks have argued Justin Gaethje fights too recklessly and takes too much puishment. But, the lightweight contender welcomes opponents underestimating his approach.

Justin Gaethje has established himself as one of the UFC’s top lightweights, but not everyone believes the relentless fighter’s strategy is sustainable or even wise…Does Gaethje care about that opinion? Evidently no.

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Gaethje’s relentless, attacking approach

Gaethje arrived in the UFC back in 2017, with a considerable amount of buzz from the hardcore fan community. During his run with WSOF Gaethje became one of the sport’s somewhat hidden gems, due to his ridiculously, pressuring style, and his vicious leg kicks.

Gaethje lived up to that hype and then some when he took out Michael Johnson in his first UFC bout. But, following back-to-back losses to Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier, in which Gaethje took a ton of punishment, doubts about his fighting style spiked.

As Gaethje gets set to fight Donald Cerrone today at UFC Vancouver, the latter’s striking coach Joe Schilling, said this about “The Highlight” (quote via MMA Junkie):

“I think he’s also the most hittable opponent in history and by far the most hittable opponent ‘Cowboy’ has ever fought,” Schilling said. “It’s going to be a good fight, but I think it’s going to be fire with fire for sure.”

Gaethje’s recent outings

Since Gaethje’s loss to Dustin Poirier, however, the 30-year-old has cruised through his last two fights. Gaethje needed less than 90 seconds to take out James Vick last August, and he took less than three minutes to finish Edson Barboza in March.

While talking to the media this week about his approach, and fighters possibly underestimating him, Gaethje said this (quotes via MMA Mania):

“I want that to stick around as long as possible,” Gaethje said. “I want these guys to think they’re fighting a fool and a dummy. My timing is different. They will never be able to replicate the heart rate they get when they fight me.”

“My output has dropped about 85 percent, if you look at it, and my coach told me forever, ‘Just try a little bit less and you will find more success,’” Gaethje continued. “It’s like golf. The harder you try, the worse you are to do it. It doesn’t make sense to me because I come from wrestling, where the harder you work, the better you did. But once I lost two times in a row, I was able to go back to the drawing board and take the criticism and try to make the adjustments, and luckily I have the 2018 ‘Coach of the Year,’ the ‘Coach of the Century.’ I’m coachable. Wrestlers are coachable, so I listen to everything he says.”

Even if you do think Gaethje fights recklessly, he’s demonstrated that all he needs is one opportunity to finish a fight. That said, it will be really interesting to see how tonight’s bout with Cerrone goes down. “Cowboy” has a comprehensive and dangerous striking game of his own.

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