There’s a new force in the UFC’s lightweight division. As stacked as that weight class is, that’s like adding a piranha into a pool of sharks. Justin Gaethje left his World Series of Fighting lightweight title behind and crashed into the UFC with a huge victory over Michael Johnson, pushing him into the top five in the rankings. He’s excited to get punched in the face by Eddie Alvarez, hoping to lure Conor McGregor into a title shot. Getting past Alvarez is a tall task, but Gaethje will look to exploit what he thinks is McGregor’s weakest point at some point in the future: His cardio.
“The reason [Conor McGregor] can’t fight through when he gets super tired is he’s never grappled. You have to learn how to fight through when it sucks and it’s really hard. You have to be in that position over and over and over, to be able to perform in that mindset. The fact that he’s never wrestled or grappled, it doesn’t help when he gets super tired and starts questioning himself.”
“He wasn’t a regular guy coming in off the street, even though he had an 0-0 record. He wasn’t just somebody coming off the street to fight Floyd Mayweather. He was a world-class athlete coming in and that’s what he proved. He wasn’t gonna go in there and get embarrassed. I didn’t think so. He’s a competitor. I figured he would stay in good position, try to land hard punches, but probably overextend himself. Fourth, fifth round, it was gonna get bad. Just tired, you can’t perform like that.” — Justin Gaethje to MMA Fighting.
Unfortunately for Justin Gaethje, McGregor has no shortage of opponents. Between potentially boxing Paul Malignaggi, fighting Nate Diaz, Khabib Nurmagomedov, or the winner of Tony Ferguson and Kevin Lee’s UFC 216 fight, Gaethje will have to expose of Alvarez in devastating fashion to be in the conversation. He’ll fight the former UFC lightweight champion on December 1st at The Ultimate Fighter 26 finale.
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 9/12/2017.