Salt Lake City, UT — New BMF champ Justin Gaethje didn’t even realize how effective his head kick was during his fight with Dustin Poirier at UFC 291.
Gaethje (25-4), who connected with that head kick early then finished the fight with it in the second round of the pair’s rematch, admitted following the bout that he was more concerned with avoiding Poirier’s left hand.
“It’s a second at a time in there. I didn’t even really understand that that was working in the first round,” Gaethje stated, speaking to media outlets including Cageside Press back stage at the Delta Center. “I just was trying to not get hit by that left hand pretty much.”
Having avenged a prior loss to “The Diamond” and claimed the symbolic BMF belt, it feels like another lightweight title shot is next for Justin Gaethje. He’s fought for the undisputed UFC lightweight championship twice, losing to both Khabib Nurmagomedov and Charles Oliveira.
“We’ll see, man. The UFC is the guy, they make the calls. So we’ll see what happens. I have no idea.” That said, Gaethje isn’t overly interested in serving as a fill-in for Islam Makhachev vs. Charles Oliveira 2 later this year. “I’d want to go watch it, yeah. I don’t think I’d want to be a back-up. Unless they pay me a sh*t ton of money.”
Of the two, Gaethje has a clear preference on who he wants to fight: Oliveira. It’s a chance, after all, the avenge another loss.
“I’d prefer Charles, because he beat me. I’m a competitor, this chance at redemption was amazing. It drove me to work harder, be ready more. They’re the best in the world, I want to fight the best in the world. After the last fight, I couldn’t see Charles winning, but I can hope.”
As for a possible rubber match with Poirier, Gaethje is willing, but it’s not high on his list.
“You know, in the cage after the fight, I said ‘hey man, let’s both agree to never fight each other again. Unless you have to have it. Then I’m here.’ But we’re 1-1. So we’ll see. I would never deny him the opportunity, just like he did not deny me the opportunity,” Gaethje stated. “But I don’t want it to be my next fight.”
There’s another big fight out there for Justin Gaethje, however. After his win over Poirier, Conor McGregor was making noise on social media. “Justin, I’ll slap you around,” McGregor wrote on social media, adding that he was the “real BMF.”
“I think he’s turned me down six times. And usually you have to lose to fight him,” Gaethje responded to that callout. “So I don’t know what’s going on.”
Gaethje added that he doesn’t really care about McGregor and his callout, though he’s open to the fight— but hesitant, apparently due to Conor’s well-publicized absence from the USADA drug testing pool.
“I fight MMA. I like to fight big fights, I like exciting things. It sounds pretty exciting to me,” said Gaethje, who added “I’m not going to fight someone on steroids. I’ve never taken steroids in my life. Never will. Maybe when I retire I might, but I’ve never taken steroids and I don’t want to fight someone that is cheating. And I probably shouldn’t even say that if I want the fight, but it’s the truth.”
Watch the full UFC 291 post-fight press conference with Justin Gaethje above.