UFC Lincoln has their main event, for the time being anyway.
The No. 7-ranked Justin ‘The Highlight’ Gaethje was left without an opponent when would-be suitor Al Iaquinta pulled out of the main event with little warning last week.
In stepped surging lightweight James Vick, who was scheduled to fight Paul Felder at July’s UFC Boise. Vick has won nine of his last 10 fights and is riding a four-fight win streak. ‘The Texecutioner’ has let it be known he doesn’t run from fights, albeit his mouth is a different story.
“He talks a lot of shit and I have no respect for him,” Gaethje said on the most recent episode of The Ariel Helwani MMA Show.
“He’s never fought a Michael Johnson, Eddie Alvarez or a Dustin Poirier. He can call me whatever he wants, but I fought the best of the best my first three fights in UFC. This is my third of four fights being the main event.” Gaethje continued, “When he wants to talk about levels, those are the levels he needs to talk about, and he’s not on my level.”
Gaethje is generally an easygoing combatant, having the utmost respect for his last two opponents Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier.
Conversely, ‘The Highlight’ believes Vick to be a lowlife and wants to bring his signature style of violence to the Lincoln faithful.
“I’m not invincible, I know I am not. Some guys like to go in there with the utmost confidence in themselves and I know that this sport is unforgiving, and I can run into a knee, but, I am going to clean his clock,” Gaethje said. “I will not be content if he does not see his feet for at least one minute, after I land a huge right hand on him. I won’t be satisfied unless he’s out cold.”
Gaethje is no longer searching for his equal, having lost his last two fights inside the octagon, ‘The Highlight’ is well aware that he isn’t invincible. But he will be damned if he gets outdone by Vick.
“I’m so much better than James Vick. It sucks to say it, but if I was to go out there and get outclassed by James Vick, I’d have to hang them up,” Gaethje explained.
“I’m talking if I go out and get outclassed. If he outclasses me and beats me in every aspect of this game, then yeah, something is not good.”
As far as what constitutes being outclassed, that’s subjective. When pressed about his comments, Gaethje further detailed a quick knockout wouldn’t be enough to consider being outclassed.
“I’m not saying, I don’t know, you know how this game works and we fly high on emotions. Everything you get from us is coming from a[n] emotional aspect. Like I said, if I was to run into a knee and get knocked out, no that’s not what, if he outclasses me then I would be so disappointed in myself.”
UFC Fight Night Lincoln takes place Saturday, August 25th, live on FS1.