In the UFC 291 Main Event Justin “The Highlight” Gaethje landed a devastating head kick in round three that immediately separated Dustin Poirier from consciousness. With the victory, Gaethje avenged his 2018 TKO loss to Poirier and put himself in position for a massive fight at 155 pounds. Since losing to former Lightweight Champion Charles Oliveira in 2022, Gaethje has made significant adjustments to his game and won back-to-back fights. In his previous win against talented kickboxer Rafael Fiziev, Gaethje showed a more technical side to his striking and picked his shots well. Gaethje’s head coach at team Elevation Trevor Whitman deserves a lot of credit for rounding out his striking game. Gaethje’s fight IQ has drastically improved under Whitman’s tutelage.
Following Gaethje’s win UFC color commentator Joe Rogan asked the Colorado native who he would like to fight next. Gaethje responded by saying ” You know what I want to do next, I want to fight for the World Championship”. Currently Lightweight Champion Islam Makhachev (24-1) is scheduled to defend his title against Charles Oliveira in Abu Dhabi this October. Gaethje may serve as a backup fighter incase one of those two misses weight. Since his vicotory, Gaethje has been in twitter exchanges with Conor Mcgregor although it is unlikely the Irish superstar will ever fight again at 155-pounds. If Makhachev defends his belt later this year it would set up a matchup with Gaethje.
In Gaethje’s first attempt at capturing the Lightweight title he was submitted by Makhachev’s trainer and friend Khabib Nurmagomedov. Nurmagomedov finished his career undefeated at (29-0) and many experts believe is pupil Makhachev may be just as talented. If Gaethje wants to find success against the Russian champion he will need to keep the fight standing. When on his back Gaethje has struggled defending submissions at times. Makhachev’s lone lose came by knockout to Adriano Martins so he can be hurt if caught clean. Gaethje is the best finisher at Lightweight which makes this an extremely compelling matchup for fight fans.
The UFC will be back this weekend with a Fight Night card from Nashville, Tennessee. The Main Event will feature #4 Cory Sandhagen (16-4) and #7 Rob Font (20-6).
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