Justin Gaethje’s fighting style has endeared him to fans worldwide.
His aggressive, non-stop, power-punching action with zero regards for defense has made him a UFC star and headliner in just three fights in the promotion.
However, after his last loss to Dustin Poirier, who defeated Gaethje by TKO in a thrilling affair at April 14’s UFC on FOX 29, many fighters and fans began questioning the longevity and safety of a fighter who implements a style so exciting, but also reckless and dangerous. And what’s more is that he’s an NCAA All-American wrestler despite rarely if ever using his supposedly elite mat skills in mixed martial arts.
Finally, Gaethje appears to have listened to those sentiments, and plans on implementing more wrestling into his game plans moving forward (via MMA Fighting):
“I’ve been wrestling my whole life. I should’ve and could’ve took him down a couple of times, especially when I had him rocked just to steal a round or two. For some reason, my mind will not let me do it,”
“I think I sold myself so hard on the fact that this is not wrestling. I don’t know, I honestly don’t know the answer to that question,” he replied when asked why wrestling didn’t prominently feature in his fighting arsenal.
“It gets you tired. If I’m going to get tired, I’d rather it be from fighting and not from wrestling. That’s the reason why I never wanted to wrestle. But I did so much cardio this camp that it would not have been a problem for me to turn it into a wrestling match, but I just can’t do it, it would not be fun for me.”
Gaethje blasted onto the UFC scene with an amazing back-and-forth war against Michael “The Menace” Johnson at last year’s TUF 26 Finale, which Gaethje won by TKO. Trouble began to emerge in his next outing, however, when he faced former divisional champion Eddie Alvarez, who put Gaethje’s lights out with a knee.
It was the first time Gaethje had ever lost a professional MMA fight, and it perhaps offered the blueprint on how to defeat the bulldozing slugger.
Then the Poirier fight didn’t help his case for such a reckless style, so maybe we will see Gaethje going for a double leg in the octagon soon of instead of blocking punches with his face.