Justin Gaethje thoroughly enjoyed watching Conor McGregor get his a** handed to him by Dustin Poirier not once, but twice.

On July 29, ‘The Highlight’ will make his return to the Octagon coming off an impressive majority decision win over Rafael Fiziev at UFC 286. Next, Justin Gaethje will run back his 2018 instant classic with fellow lightweight leather-slinger, Dustin Poirier. The two high-octane scrappers will headline the promotion’s return to Salt Lake City this summer with the BMF title up for grabs.

Less than two months from their highly anticipated rematch, Justin Gaethje sat down with UFC Hall of Famer Daniel Cormier and Ryan Clark to speak about his UFC 291 showdown with ‘The Diamond. During the conversation, Gaethje expressed deep respect for Poirier and relished what he did to Irish superstar Conor McGregor on more than one occasion.

“It was a great learning experience. Tons of respect for the dude,” Gaethje said of his first meeting with Poirier during an appearance on DC & RC. “He’s a dog, and what he’s done to [Conor] McGregor the last couple fights was super impressive. I always love to see that dude get broken.

After suffering a first-round knockout against McGregor in their initial 2014 meeting, Dustin Poirier evened the score with his highlight-reel knockout at UFC 257 in 2021. With the fighters deadlocked at 1-1, they signed on the dotted line for a trilogy bout six months later. Unfortunately, disaster would strike for the Irishman as he would suffer a nasty leg break near the end of the opening round, an injury he is yet to return from.

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Justin Gaethje and Dustin Poirier Were Destined to Meet Again

Since their 2018 Fight of the Year, Justin Gaethje and Dustin Poirier have gone an identical 6-2 with four finishes and two victories by way of decision. Their only two losses came against the exact same fighters, Khabib Nurmagomedov and Charles Oliveira, and both have earned a win over former Bellator MMA champion Michael Chandler. Given all the similarities in their respective careers, some would suggest that these two men were destined to meet again inside the Octagon.

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“So this guy’s a dog and I know I’m going to have to be perfect. I know that there’s no need for animosity. We’re two of the best, most violent athletes in the sport,” Gaethje continued. “We both love what we do. We both love the carnage and we’re both content with what we’re about to put ourselves through. It’s all preparation. He’s super confident. I’m super confident coming off this last win. And again, this card is stacked. It’s going to be an electric night.”

Dustin Poirier holds an equal amount of respect for Justin Gaethje, making this one of the few fights that can be sold without the need for unnecessary and borderline-scripted trash-talk.

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“[My respect for Gaethje] came from spending over 20 minutes in the octagon with him, bleeding,” Poirier said of his opponent. “But I’m a fan of his. Anytime he fights, I’m going to watch. He’s the kind of fighter I like to watch. He puts it all on the line every time, and those are the kind of fights that I want to be involved in. So that’s why this fight is exciting to me. But I’ve ran into Justin a few times since we’ve fought and he’s always been straight up. The [animosity] with [Michael] Chandler was because I think he’s fake, but Justin seems real to me” (h/t MMA Fighting).

Craig Pekios is a freelance writer born and raised in Bettendorf, IA. Joining LowKick MMA in May 2022, Craig has more than 2,500 articles published that focus on the world of mixed martial arts and boxing, including news, event previews, results, analysis, and op-eds. Aside from working with LowKick MMA, Craig has contributed to news outlets Overtime Heroics, Sportskeeda, and MiddleEasy.