Justin Gaethje has built a reputation for himself in the cage, as a fighter entirely confident in his ability to perform under pressure. It’s come with a style that also puts himself directly in harms way. Most recently, it put him in the way of an Eddie Alvarez knee, and the first loss of Gaethje’s pro-MMA career.
After the Alvarez fight, the ‘Highlight’ made it clear that his confidence in the way he fights, and his dedication to putting himself in the line of fire, was anything other than a mistake. In fact, he sounded like he couldn’t be happier.
“I have to keep reminding myself that I lost,” Gaethje told Ariel Helwani in an interview on the MMA Hour. “I don’t know. I signed up for this. I said it before, I said it many times, that I was going to lose (eventually). If I lost, I hoped that I would get knocked out” … “It’s just, I’m happy. I’m happy for myself. I’m happy for my family. I’ve been trying to prepare my mom and sisters for all of that for a long time, so when it did happen, they were like, ‘Well, you’ve kinda prepared us for this.’ So it wasn’t that bad.”
And it’s likely that mindset – not to mention support for his teammate Rose Namajunas – that has the Colorado-based fighter coming down hard on former strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
Jedrzejczyk is also looking to bounce back from the first loss of her MMA career, to Namajunas at UFC 217. But, where Gaethje has fully embraced getting KO’d as part of the game, Jedrzejczyk has been – to paraphrase Gaethje – making “weak-minded” excuses. Most notably, Joanna pointed the finger at her nutrition team, who she says ‘failed’ her with a difficult weight cut.
“I don’t know her or what happened to her, so I can’t judge her for it. I think she’s weak-minded for saying it, even if it is true,” Gaethje told MMA Fighting. “It’s her own business. And no matter what, it could be true to the core and you could have proof, who’s going to [care]? Like, I’m not going to support you. Okay, whose fault was it? At the end of the day, whose fault was it? It was your fault. Do you have a scale at your house? Then you get to step on the scale every single morning, just like every single one of us do. We worry about our weight the whole camp, and I’ve never had a nutritionist help me in my entire life.
“I made weight in college eating McDonalds every day. It’s willpower. You either f*cking do it or you don’t do it. Like, the nutritionist does not cut the weight for you. And yeah, it could be detrimental to your performance, so if she did cut a tremendous amount of weight, then I’m sure that she suffered tremendously, and I am excited to see Rose fight the best Joanna whenever she doesn’t f*ck up and f*ck her weight cut up.”
“Because she knows that Rose cut weight,” Gaethje elaborated when asked to explain the ‘weak-minded’ comment. “She knows that Rose made weight. And at the end of the day, it is an excuse. Even if it’s fact, it’s still an excuse, because it was still her fault. So, I mean, as a wrestler — I’m not calling Joanna weak-minded, I’m saying that statement is weak-minded.”
Obviously, Gaethje is confident that Namajunas is going to win the rematch. But, Joanna will have the chance to prove him, and other doubters wrong on April 7th in Brooklyn, NY. There she’ll face the newly crowned champion, in Namajunas’ first title defense. The bout is expected to be the co-main event, under a lightweight title fight between Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov.
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