Justin Gaethje dismisses "retired Irishman" McGregor after Cerrone destruction
Seven bonuses in six UFC fights and a move to 21-2 in his MMA career.
Justin Gaethje lived up to his 'Highlight Reel' nickname with a one-round demolition of Donald Cerrone at UFC Vancouver.
The Arizona native entered the UFC in 2017 and kicked off with an impressive win over Michael Johnson before losing two on the bounce to Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier. Gaethje says the Poirier loss showed him 'what was broken' and what needed fixing.
Gaethje went back to the drawing board and is now timing his punches well rather than going for kitchen sink flurries. The comeback started with a KO win over James Vick and he delivered the same result against Edson Barboza.
The 30-year-old has trained in the past with Cerrone and the pair are good friends, but victory for either man could well put them into the No.1 contender slot after the anticipated lightweight title bout between Tony Ferguson and champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Gaethje's leg kicks, early on, forced Cerrone to step forward with straight punches as he tried to take advantage of his greater range. That, however, left 'Cowboy' open to crunching over-hand rights and he certainly ate a few.
Gaethje was showing a new-found patience and timing his big punches well. Cerrone, as he so often does, kept walking forward but, with less than a minute left in the first round, that was his downfall. Another over-hand right landed flush and saw Cerrone flop forward towards the canvas. He steadied himself but took another few blows before the referee eventually jumped in and Gaethje secured the TKO win.
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Following his 21st career win, Gaethje told Daniel Cormier that he wanted to fight the winner of any Nurmagomedov vs. Ferguson bout. Cormier teed that up by asking if he wanted a 'Russian or an Irishman' next. On Conor McGregor, he declared:
"The Irishman is retired. I want a real fighter... I want the Russian!"
McGregor himself revealed, in August, that he had been due to fight Gaethje in the summer only for the UFC to hold up proceedings by not sanctioning it as a main event, before a broken hand put all fight plans on ice.
Shown a picture McGregor had tweeted of himself right after his win over Cerrone, Gaethje seemed more amenable to a tilt with 'The Notorious'.
"If he's going to fight, I definitely want to fight him," he told ESPN.
"He punched an old man in the face. I want to f*** him up for that."
Gaethje was referring to a bar-room incident involving McGregor, in April of this year, for which he has since apologised for.
The American would readily throw down with McGregor but his number one priority is a fight with 'the best lightweight in the world', Nurmagomedov.
On how he plans to dethrone 'The Eagle', Gaethje says, "I'm going to kick his legs off. He's going to get four or five of those. Everyone tries to run away from his wrestling. In order to stop a take-down, you've got to meet force with force. That's what you do and that's what you will do. I will embrace the grind."