Justin Gaethje explains appeal of Donald Cerrone fight: 'This is pure violence'

LAS VEGAS — The announcement that Justin Gaethje would meet Donald Cerrone in the main event of UFC on ESPN+ 16 was like Christmas arriving early for fans of all-action fights.

If you’ve watched mixed martial arts longer than a week, you know why, but for the benefit of the newbies out there, Cerrone (36-12 MMA, 23-10 UFC) has a record 18 UFC post-fight bonuses, while Gaethje (21-2 MMA, 3-2 UFC, who arrived in UFC much later, is doing his best to catch up: He has more post-fight performance bonuses in his UFC tenure (six) than he has fights (five).

And just in case you think it’s only fans who get excited about this sort of thing, know this: The competitors themselves are just as excited about their Sept. 14 bout at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Just ask Gaethje himself, who made it clear during MMA Junkie’s recent visit to the UFC Performance Institute just what the Cerrone fight is going to deliver.

“This is pure violence,” Gaethje told MMA Junkie. “This does not need to be talked up. Cowboy has had the most fights, the most performance bonuses, this will make it the most fights ever, the most wins I think, something like that. He has all the records. So I mean, yeah. What do we need to pump up? If you’ve seen me fight, you know that I come to, I’m 100 percent right now, I’ll be 100 percent when I’m done in the fact that either I go to sleep or they go to sleep, so, that’s what I do.”

Of course, this isn’t all just about fighting for the fun of it. Gaethje dropped consecutive fights to Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier, and while both fights were quite exciting, the idea started to emerge that Gaethje wasn’t a serious UFC title contender. He responded to the criticism by finishing James Vick and Edson Barboza with first-round knockouts. A win over Cerrone would finally vault him into the short list of contenders at 155 pounds.

Which makes the history between Cerrone and Gaethje interesting. The duo used to train together in New Mexico, and Cerrone once knockout Gaethje out in sparring. Gaethje says he needs to put that behind him if he’s going to focus on the fight and his title aspirations.

“He knocked me out … he dropped me in sparring,” Gaethje said. “I don’t even know if I had a pro fight at the time. I was a kid then and a man now and I’m excited to get in there and give him back that one, yeah.”

Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie

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