Justin Gaethje is ‘the most violent man in the UFC’ and Rafael Fiziev says he ‘can’t wait to smell his heart and eat it after’… the London co-main event is NOT for the faint-hearted but could steal the show on Saturday night
- UFC star Justin Gaethje is nicknamed ‘The Highlight’ with very good reason
- American is never in a dull fight and Saturday night should be no different
- UFC 286: All you need to know about massive event in the capital on Saturday
There are some fighters who command attention from the first second of a bout to the last and Justin Gaethje is top of that list.
‘The Highlight’ is just about the most apt nickname imaginable for the all-action American, who will take centre stage in the co-main event of UFC London this Saturday night.
If you’re watching at home, you won’t be getting up from the sofa for that extra beer, in the arena, nobody will be timing their toilet break for this one.
Gaethje has been dubbed ‘the most violent man in the UFC’ and it’s a moniker he doesn’t shy away from.
His relentlessness, downright refusal to lose a battle of wills, incredible gas tank and propensity to take a few too many shots make for must-see fights.
Justin Gaethje (left) is renowned for being in thrilling fights and his epic 2021 battle with Michael Chandler (right) was one of the most talked about in UFC history
Rafael Fiziev will fight Gaethje at UFC London this Saturday night in the co-main event
Most of the time, fighters need a dance partner and someone willing to put on a show with them.
But whoever Gaethje fights knows they’re in for a wild ride. That said, in Rafael Fiziev he has a perfect partner in crime.
In many ways, they’re cut from the same cloth in terms of mentality.
The dangerous striker from Azerbaijan outlined his gruesome intentions in the first episode of UFC embedded, saying: ‘I’m ready, I’m ready like never [before].
‘This is fireworks, this is like his nickname, “Highlight.” He has a big career, he’s a very famous guy.
‘I can’t wait to go and see him in the cage, smell blood, smell his heart, and eat his heart after.’
He also told Submission Radio: ‘He has a] very good style… he fights with heart and everybody who fights with heart has a big plus and big minus.
Gaethje (left) and Chandler (right) were reunited in hospital after their brutal fight
The American churns out performance bonuses like nobody else in the promotion
‘Big minus because he fights only with heart. Big plus, you can’t break him because he fights with his heart.
‘It’s very hard to break his mind, break his heart but if you have a good IQ… you can beat him.
‘I want to play with him… I want to show him [a] masterpiece, the real highlight. I want to show him.’
Fiziev is 13-1 and has only lost one of his seven fights in the UFC. Three of his last four wins have been by stoppage, including one spectacular spinning wheel kick.
Those who work with him know just what a threat he is in this lightweight division, with Mo Mokaev, who also trains in Thailand at Tiger Muay Thai, telling Sportsmail: ‘I think it will be Fiziev by finish.
‘It will be probably second or third round. Fiziev is a really good athlete, I watched his training in Tiger Muay Thai. If he lands on Gaethje I think it is a big problem for him. He’s one of the best strikers in the lightweight division.’
Gaethje has been out of action for almost a year, which is out of character but was much needed time to recuperate.
He lost his second attempt at the title against Charles Oliveira last May and was well beaten but later revealed he suffered a horrible accident shortly before the fight.
Gaethje (right) will fear sliding down the rankings if he loses to Fiziev on Saturday night
Fiziev has won his last six fights and looks like he could become a top title contender
‘My dumb a**, 18 days before I fought Charles, I was riding my bicycle to the gas station to get some nicotine pouches and I had like a vicious crash on my bike. Smoked my head off the road, road rash all down my back.
‘And then go in there and take that damage I took in that fight? That’s why I’m taking so much time off. It’s just crazy what we go through. Each and every one of us has different circumstances that we go through. That was such a hurdle. As soon as it happened, I had to go home and act like it didn’t happen.
‘I had to act like my vision didn’t go 100 per cent f***ed up for two seconds. That’s what we’ve been doing since we were kids, you put that doubt aside.
‘As soon as it happened, it’s like, “OK, what do I do next? How do I continue to improve and continue to be ready for this fight?” I wasn’t doing anything stupid; my pedal snapped off when I was riding – crazy, crazy, crazy.’
Gaethje’s mentality is ironclad as that tale demonstrates and the mental scars of two failed title attempts will test it to the limit.
He will not be able to give an inch against Fiziev but if he’s at his best, the UFC London crowd could be in for a real treat.
The official stats for the Fight of the Year in 2021 against Michael Chandler showed Gaethje landed Justin Gaethje landed 133 total strikes of which 116 were significant. Chandler, on the other hand, landed 104 total strikes, 103 significant.
Those kinds of wars might shave the careers of fighters, that’s the brutal reality of it. But Gaethje has since questioned the numbers and rails against the notion that he’s a wild fighter.
Charles Oliveira (back) submitted Gaethje (front) in the first round of their fight last May
Gaethje is as close to a guaranteed entertainer as it gets in the UFC with multiple bonuses
He says there is calculation behind everything he does, even if it is brutal.
The 34-year-old is still relatively young in MMA terms but the importance of this fight will not be lost on him. He’s ranked at No 3, with Fiziev down at No 6 and threatening to leapfrog him with a win. This fight could well indicate how much fire there is for another run at the belt.
There are no easy fights at lightweight but this has the look of a very nasty one for the former college wrestling star. Victory is by no means guaranteed but entertainment is.
Gaethje has won an astonishing eight Fight of the Night or Performance of the Night bonuses from his 10 fights in the UFC since 2017. He loves a big stage, he loves being the underdog and there’s every chance this co-main event will steal the show on Saturday night.
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