EXCLUSIVE | James Vick discusses origins of beef with UFC Lincoln opponent Justin Gaethje

James Vick

Originally, surging UFC lightweight contender James Vick was supposed to meet Paul Felder at last weekend’s UFC Boise card. When Al Iaquinta withdrew from his August 25th UFC Lincoln main event battle with Justin Gaethje, however, Vick got the call to replace him, and was transplanted from one card to the other.

Fighting Gaethje instead of Felder, of course, was just fine with Vick.

Vick and Gaethje have made no secret of their disdain for one another, repeatedly taking shots at each other on social media and in interviews.

Speaking on the latest episode of BJPENN.COM Radio, James Vick explained the root of his beef with his UFC Lincoln opponent Justin Gaethje.

“Well basically, it was his UFC debut on International Fight Week [in 2017],” James Vick explained. “The dude, he beats Michael Johnson. He gets in the ring and he starts popping off on the mic saying, ‘Who’s my equal? I’m waiting for my equal. Who’s my equal?’. Well of course, any top guy that’s interested in taking a fight and that has a set of balls is gonna say something. I walk right down — I’m cage side — I walked right down to [UFC matchmaker] Sean Shelby and said, ‘I want the fight.'”

“Of course, I didn’t get [the fight until] just now but I said, ‘I want that fight.” And then I get on social media and I get on my Twitter and I was like, ‘Yeah, I’ll knock his ass out.’ I start talking some shit. And then from there he saw it and he went back and forth with me. And then he waited a little bit of time, then he’d talk some more shit. We’ve been going back and forth and then he brought my name up in some interview.”

Vick then recounted the particular interview in which Gaethje’s comments really rubbed him the wrong way.

“In the interview, he’s like, ”Im just happy for this opportunity.’ He was talking about when he fought [Dustin] Poirier,” Vick explained. “He was like, ‘You know, I could be fighting some guy like James Vick.’ The whole time he acting like I’m not worthy to fight him. And this guy’s 1-2 I the UFC and I’m 9-1 in the UFC, and he’s acting like I’m not worthy to fight. It’s a joke.”

While James Vick clearly harbors a grudge against his UFC Lincoln opponent Justin Gaethje, he assures that his emotions will not affect the way he fights in Lincoln. The bad blood will just make it a little more fun to knock Gaethje out.

“My goal is always to be a winner,” he said. “It wouldn’t matter if I have a problem with this guy or I don’t have a problem with this guy, I’m gonna win. It’s gonna be more fun punching him in his face, that’s for sure. But either way, whether I like the dude or don’t, I’m gonna win August 25th. He’s screwed. I’m gonna knock his ass out. That’s my plan whether I hate him or I don’t; if I like him or I don’t like him. But it will be a little more fun to get that knockout, for sure.”

Who do you think will come out on top when the cage door closes on James Vick and Justin Gaethje in Lincoln on August 25?

This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 7/20/2018.