What’s next for Justin Gaethje?

Written by Xavier Serrano

 

April 13, ‘ The Highlight’ ‘ Justin Gaethje found himself as the focal point of UFC 300’s card as a lifeless corpse after a brutal knockout followed by a hard fought 5 round classic with Featherweight legend Max Holloway.

 

This past weekend held the highly anticipated UFC 300 card at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas Nevada. The card was stacked to the brim with notable names as a total of 13 champions ( Current/Former) competed in thrilling bangers. The card consisted of three title fights, one being for the BMF strap. 

 

The BMF belt was originally created to promote a fight between two of the baddest, meanest, fighters in their respective weight class. One must meet the requirement of being considered a “ BMF” such as putting on wars, accepting hard fights, accepting fights on a week’s notice, etc. Both Gaethje and Holloway exceeded those requirements hence why the fight was made; who better than these two?

 

Max ‘Blessed’ Holloway has been in the UFC for more than a decade, forging his spot as one of the greatest mixed martial artists of all time. February 4, 2012, Holloway would debut in the ufc and would find success in the 145 lb division as he would rack up a lengthy win streak (13) after some trials and tribulations. Throughout the midst of chaos, Holloway would rack up wins against future hall of fame inductees and would display an unbreakable heart whilst showcasing his overwhelming striking credentials. When all was said and done, Max Holloway would prove to be one of the greatest featherweight champions of all time as well as the arguable “ greatest of all time” for the 145 weight class.

 

With an impressive resume and fan friendly fighting style, Justin Gaethje would be the man to become the newly crowned BMF champ after knocking out the respected Dustin Poirier in a two round clash with a devastating headkick. During UFC 300 fight week, The Highlight would be within the top 5 of the lightweight rankings guaranteeing a UFC lightweight title shot opportunity against the 155 pound king Islam Makhachev assuming he gets past his toughest challenger in Max Holloway. 

 

Both modern day gladiators would make their march to the octagon to put on a 5 round classic to appease the masses. The question in play was whether or not Max Holloway would be big enough to make the weight jump to 155. Holloway’s first attempt at lightweight was against Dustin Poirier as he would take the fight on short notice; putting on a war for the interim lightweight gold. Suffering a loss to the respected Poirier, Holloway would make his way back to his original weight class as the defending featherweight champ. 

 

Holloway would show up on fight day in peak physical shape, shutting down all the speculations as he and Justin Gaethje would slug it out for five long rounds. Justin  Gaethje would find himself in deep waters as Max Holloway’s volume striking style would strategically break down The Highlight and soften his trademark chin. Holloway would put on a vintage performance as he would out strike the BMF champion, proving that he is more than capable of hanging with the 155er’s. 

Fans and media would all bet against Holloway as they feared Justin Gaethje’s other worldly power would be the kryptonite to Max Holloway’s remarkable chin. Despite being hit with destructive power, Holloway would use his respected boxing and technical footwork to lead the dance and outclass his opponent. As the fifth round would come to its final 10 seconds, Holloway would point to the canvas; inviting Gaethje in for an all out slugfest would ultimately result in Gaethje’s demise as he would be caught with a right hand to put him out cold in the final second of the fifth round.

 

At 35 years old, Justin Gaethje would find himself in a strange position as the question would arise..” What’s next?”. Already being on the receiving end of two failed title attempts to capture the lightweight gold ( Losses to Charles Oliveira and Khabib Nurmagomedov) the future for Gaethje’s career seems to be coming to a premature end. Statistically speaking, most fighters past the age of 35 tend to go on a decline as seen with past talent such as Tyron Woodley and past foe, Tony Ferguson. 

 

A title shot opportunity seems unlikely as the lightweight division is constantly evolving with new talent coming to discard the old. Justin Gaethje may have a few fights left and could choose to have “ money fights” with superstars such as Conor McGregor or fighters in higher weight classes. Longevity may be something to consider as Gaethje sacrifices his health for the fans’ entertainment, limiting his career overtime. The question looms in the distance as we await any news concerning the ever so entertaining, Justin ‘ The Highlight ‘ Gaethje. What’s next for the former interim lightweight champion/ BMF belt holder?