After a perfect, 18-0 start to his MMA career, highlighted by a World Series of Fighting lightweight title win and a thrilling defeat of Michael Johnson in his UFC debut, the sky looked like the limit for Justin Gaethje. Since then, however, Gaethje has lost two in a row, succumbing to strikes dealt by Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier.
Heading into his do-or-die UFC Lincoln main event showdown with James Vick, Justin Gaethje assures he learned a key lesson from these losses. He believes he needs to keep from becoming so relaxed in his fights, and focus on being a little more cautious throughout.
”Really, what I’ve been focused on is not becoming too complacent and not having too much fun out there,” Gaethje said in a recent interview with FloCombat. “Right before that knee [against Alvarez], I landed some huge uppercuts and I got too relaxed. In my mind, he was going away and you cannot do that at this level, especially against guys like Eddie Alvarez. Same thing happened with Dustin [Poirier]. I should have learned my lesson, but I get in there and I get too comfortable.
”I need to go in there and I need to be scared at all times. I need to understand that it can happen with one shot and that one shot can happen at any time, especially when I’m fighting guys in the top 10 of the UFC. So just staying focused, staying vigilant in my positions has really been my focus in this camp.”
For Gaethje, changing the way he fights won’t be easy, but he’s determined to make whatever adjustments that he can.
“I couldn’t change the way I fight if I wanted to. I can be more vigilant about staying in better positions at all times. I cannot become comfortable and I can’t have fun.
”It needs to be a job to me. It can’t be a complete pleasure for me. I’ve got to go in there and I’ve got to make it a job.”
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 8/19/2018.