When Justin Gaethje stepped into the UFC 274 main event, ‘The Highlight’ was far from 100% healthy.
During an appearance at a UFC 281 media event on Thursday, Gaethje spoke about his last appearance inside the Octagon. Taking on then-lightweight champion Charles Oliveira, ‘The Highlight’ suffered a loss via a first-round rear-naked choke. Falling short of capturing UFC gold for the second time in as many tries, Gaethje revealed that he had been in a serious bicylce accident less than a month before the bout was scheduled to go down.
“Life’s crazy, man … nobody knows what we go through,” Gaethje said (h/t MMA Fighting). “My dumbass, 18 days before I fought Charles, I was riding my bicycle to the gas station to get some nicotine patches, and I had a vicious crash on my bike. Smoked my head off the road, road rash all down my back, and then go in there and took that damage that I took in that fight. That’s why I’m taking so much time off.
“It’s just crazy what we go through,” Gaethje continued. “Each and every one of us has different circumstances. That was such a hurdle in my last [fight]. As soon as it happened I had to go home and act like it didn’t happen, act like my vision didn’t go 100 percent f*cked up for two seconds. And that’s what we’ve been doing since we were kids. You put that doubt aside. And as soon as it happened, it was like, ‘Okay, what do I do next? How do I continue to improve and continue to be ready for this fight?’”
Justin Gaethje Says He Wasn’t Doing Anything ‘Stupid’ When Bike Accident Occurred
Divulging more details on the accident, Justin Gaethje confirmed that it was nothing more than a freak occurrence. Despite the injuries sustained, ‘The Highlight’ never once considered pulling out of the title fight with Oliveira. Even in retrospect, Gaethje is happy that he went through with it because, though he lost, the two put on a great fight that night.
“I wasn’t doing anything stupid,” he said. “My pedal snapped off, when I was riding. It was just crazy, crazy, crazy, crazy. Stupid is what it was. I was 12 weeks into a camp. All I know is to compete, you know? I don’t let myself feel anything. I try to take away the emotions so I’m constantly either running from it, or I feel like I can control it. But in that instance, I was like, ‘Oh, I f*cked up. This is not good.’ But I didn’t feel compromised externally. Not even internally, because at that moment I was ready for war.
“I had a crazy rug burn. I was lubing myself up all day, every day, trying to get it to go away, and it went away really, really well. But it was f*cking stupid is what it was, at the end of the day. But I had put so much work in, there was no chance I wasn’t — I’ve never backed out of a fight. I didn’t feel I needed to then, I still don’t think I should have, and I’m glad I didn’t. That was a great fight. It was very emotional because I was at home. I think that’s the mistake I made, I let the moment get to me, and that’s the lesson you learn.”
Justin Gaethje is yet to commit to a return date, but anticipated fans will see him grace the Octagon once again in the first quarter of 2023.