Gaethje is returning to the cage for the primary time since shedding a light-weight title bout final Could.
UFC 286 is constructed round its primary occasion, however the co-main additionally holds significance.
Justin Gaethje returns to the cage for the primary time since shedding a light-weight title bout final Could, and his first impediment in an ongoing pursuit of the belt is Rafael Fiziev.
Fiziev (12-1) has been bulldozing opponents amid a six-fight win streak, successful by knockout in three of his final 4 bouts. But he has by no means confronted anybody within the higher echelon of the division, notably with the ability set—or blazing energy—of Gaethje.
“It’s solely a three-round, so I can go a bit tougher,” says Gaethje (23-4). “That is his greatest stage to this point. The strain is on me, however I feel it is going to be extra of an element for him.”
Gaethje final fought a three-round bout in November of 2021, when he obliterated Michael Chandler at Madison Sq. Backyard. If he can hit Fiziev with an analogous barrage of pictures, then it is going to be exhausting to think about Gaethje not returning to the victory column.
“I fought nearly as excellent a battle as I may battle at Madison Sq. Backyard towards Chandler,” says Gaethje. “I used to be so internally targeted. That’s the plan to repeat this Saturday.”
Gaethje stays extraordinarily vital of his efficiency within the title bout towards then-champ Charles Oliveira from final Could. Lower than 4 minutes into the primary spherical, Gaethje tapped to a rear-naked choke.
“You must by no means let something out of the cage have an effect on you, however I did,” says Gaethje. “I used to be again house in Phoenix, singing a music within the cage I didn’t even know the phrases to, pounding my chest. Trying again, I wasn’t recognizable to myself that night time. Being so emotional that night time, that was detrimental to my efficiency.”
A win tonight is a necessity if Gaethje needs to reinsert himself within the title image. Reigning champ Islam Makhachev doesn’t have a clear-cut subsequent opponent, however Dustin Poirier, Charles Oliveira, and Beneil Dariush are all main the cost for that spot. Alexander Volkanovski, who misplaced to Makhachev final month, additionally needs a rematch.
“Volkanovski was extraordinarily spectacular,” says Gaethje. “I must do what I’ve obtained to do to get ready to get again to their spot.
“At this stage, any win is an enormous win. There’s Dustin, there’s Beneil and there’s Charles, and I’ve to undergo a kind of guys, I’ll. I’m proper there. There’s nowhere to go however ahead from this battle.”
When requested if there could possibly be an upcoming bout towards Conor McGregor, Gaethje rapidly dismissed the concept.
“He’s selecting to battle Chandler,” says Gaethje. “That’s what it’s. He’s earned his spot, he will get to choose who he fights. He’s made probably the most cash of any fighter that’s ever stepped in there. However Chandler is a reasonably harmful man. We’ll see how that works out.”
Along with the Kamaru Usman-Leon Edwards primary occasion, the 286 card additionally options Gunnar Nelson towards Bryan Barberena, Jennifer Maia towards Casey O’Neill, and a really fascinating check for Marvin Vettori towards Roman Dolidze.
And Gaethje-Fiziev stands as a must-see battle on the cardboard, with actual stakes within the light-weight division on the road.
“No accidents, and I’ve had time to recuperate,” says Gaethje. “I’m prepared.”