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Justin Gaethje expertly breaks down his fight against Rafael Fiziev, expect an all-out war

Max Sherry

Published 
| Last updated 

Justin Gaethje expertly breaks down his fight against Rafael Fiziev, expect an all-out war

There’s a good reason why Justin Gaethje is nicknamed ‘The Highlight’.

Ever since he joined the UFC, the 34-year-old has never failed to put on a show for the MMA die-hards.

With more ‘Fight of the Night’ bonuses than you can shake a stick at, he has quickly become one of the most loved characters on the roster.

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Despite boasting an impressive collegiate Division 1 wrestling record, he always tends to keep the fight standing on the feet – which MMA fans, both the purists and the casuals, seem to enjoy.

But when a highly-dangerous striker is standing opposite him when the cage doors slam shut at UFC 286, don’t expect Gaethje to be shooting for single-legs anytime soon.

Rafael Fiziev, who has 29 wins and four losses in his Muay Thai career, has emerged as a true lightweight contender courtesy of his elite-level striking.

“I was in his position not too long ago. He’s young, he’s hungry,” Gaethje told SPORTbible.

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“He’s not broke but he hasn’t made a whole ton of money yet.

“He’s probably just as hungry as any fighter I’ve ever fought before – trying to make a name for himself off of my name.”

This duo now face off in what’s potentially a number one contender bout for the title.

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Not just that, though, it’s the sort of scrap which has all the ingredients for a fight of the year contender.

“He’s got this extensive Muay Thai background,” Gaethje added.

“He has probably had more experience on the feet than a lot of my opponents – he’s dangerous.

“But look, we’re playing a whole different game here. MMA, as opposed to Muay Thai, is a completely different ball game.”

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Asked whether it was a ‘logical’ love to utilise his wrestling background and take Fiziev to the ground, Gaethje replied: “That does sound logical, but who knows?

“If I’m finding a lot of success on my feet then I don’t think taking him down will be necessary, especially in a close round.”

A former interim champion himself, Gaethje hopes an impressive victory in London can catapult him into a title bout.

"I'm sitting at number three in the rankings," he said.

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"So obviously a big win here and I hope to be fighting for a championship.

"I think Beneil Dariush is going to fight Charles Oliveira. Dariush will win that and then he'll fight Islam Makhachev for the title. Then they'll need someone to fight the winner of that, so I'll be ready to go."

Featured Image Credit: Alamy/Twitter/UFC

Topics: Spotlight, MMA, UFC, Justin Gaethje

Max Sherry
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