Undefeated lightweight Justin Gaethje made a huge splash in his debut atop the TUF 25 Finale card Friday night. In the main event, he stopped Michael Johnson with knees in the second round of their back-and-forth war, a typical Gaethje fight that saw him take almost as much damage as he dished out.
Now 18-0, the sky is the limit for the former World Series of Fighting lightweight champion. And Gaethje knows exactly what he wants next, even if he’s not actually sure exactly what name it will take to get him there.
First, though, Gaethje was asked at Friday’s post-fight press conference in Nevada whether there was anything surprising about the night. Not at all, apparently. “It was exactly how I thought, how I processed it all” he told the assembled media. “Everybody in this league started somewhere else. Everybody out there is going to say ‘you’re not good enough’ – you just gotta take it one at a time and prove everybody wrong, and prove everybody that believed in me right.”
Can he keep standing toe-to-toe with his opponents, swinging for the fences? “I don’t want to do it forever. One at a time, I really don’t know” was the slugger’s honest response.
That said, Gaethje is very specific in what he wants next.
“Whoever gets me closer to an interim title right now. McGregor’s not here, so I’m going to get that interim title on my waist, and when he comes back, pressure. I pressure people” Gaethje stated. “You think you can take it… he has a fantastic left hand, if he touches me with it, I’ll go to sleep. If not, you saw what will happen tonight.”
McGregor, meanwhile, seems to have taken notice, or was at the very least keeping an eye on the fight Friday.
That was a good contest. Two fighters, fighting.
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) July 8, 2017
On the Irish star taking notice, Gaethje commented “real recognizes real.”