Justin Gaethje may have lost out to Eddie Alvarez in the ‘most violent man in the UFC’ stakes, but he remains an absolute must watch.
His first professional loss at UFC 218 derailed a potential title charge in 2018, but Gaethje remains a lofty fifth in the UFC lightweight division rankings, having dispatched of Michael Johnson in his UFC debut and ‘fight of the year’ contender last summer.
Though he lies below ‘The Highlight’ in the rankings at 7th, Kevin Lee would offer an excellent opportunity for Gaethje to rebound from his loss to Alvarez. And the summer kickoff press conference this past year provided a perfect excuse for the 29-year-old to call out a young fighter who has already headlined a pay-per-view in UFC 216.
The controversial presser saw bitter rivals Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier trade barbs, along with Gaethje and Johnson, while Lee (perhaps inadvertently) caused a fight with his then-opponent Michael Chiesa.
Behind the scenes, Justin and Kevin got on well, but that facade soon faded, as the former WSOF champion told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour.
“First time I ever met him, he was nice,” Gaethje said via MMA Fighting.
“Then he talked shit saying I was fanboying over him. He doesn’t know what respect is. I’ll never show him respect again, that’s for sure. I just like punching loudmouths in the face.”
His gruelling loss to Alvarez would necessitate a long layoff for most fighters, but the game American might be back in the Octagon sooner than expected.
“I’m sure I’ll get the itch sooner rather than later. I said I wanted to wait around until June, July. But I’m sure I’ll get the itch sooner.”
“It’s too soon, but we’ll see how things play out. I might want to beat up Kevin Lee, that kid over there I want to beat up.”
The interview can be seen below at around 77 minutes in.