Justin Gaethje doesn’t see himself entering the ring anytime soon.
The UFC lightweight contender spoke with LowkickMMA’s Makoa Goble about boxing, training Trevor Wittman and his thoughts on the Charles Oliveira-Islam Makhachev matchup.
Gaethje (23-2) began his mixed martial arts career in August 2008. Since then he has been involved in numerous slugfests over the years. He is widely known for the amount of violence associated with his fights. His wild approach inside the octagon was reflected in the 19 knockouts he won during his career.
While speaking with Goble, the 33-year-old reiterated his passion for MMA. Gaethje is happy with the amount of violence cage fighting brings to the table, but admits boxing has an edge in jeopardy.
“My sport is the most violent but it is far from being the most dangerous”, Gaethje said. “I’m good at what I do. Boxing is much more dangerous than what I do.”
Justin Gaethje has a second passion: giving back to the community
Although not interested in a boxing career, Gaethje has made it his mission to give back to Denver’s boxing community. He was instrumental in the rebuilding process of Topeira Boxing Club. Owner Joaquin Romero was killed in a hit-and-run earlier this year. The UFC and Modelo have teamed up to help the gym rebuild by adding new equipment and supplies.
“They do a lot of things, they give out a lot of bags. We are putting on all new gloves for all students. before I even started fighting, it was social work social services, it’s the perfect avenue. I can team up with huge companies like Modelo, like the UFC… they get the ball rolling.”
In MMA, “The Highlight” has found success training under Trevor Wittman for the past decade. Wittman is known to be one of the best trainers in MMA. Along with Gaethje, he coaches other big stars in Kamaru Usman and Rose Namajunas.
The collaboration between Gaethje and Wittman proved beneficial for the 155-pounder. In 2020, he showcased his boxing and defeated Tony Ferguson at UFC 248 to become interim lightweight champion. Despite title fight losses to Khabib Nurmogomedov and Charles Oliveira, Gaethje still leads the division. The Arizona native raved about his time at ONX Sports with his longtime head coach.
“[Trevor Wittman’s] the spirit is special. The way he is able to teach…the processes he goes through are so simple. These are the basics. I’ve worked with the basics for 13 years with him. You have to be coachable, you have to be athletic. If you are…then he can make you exactly what you need to be in this sport and that is very dangerous.”
Gaethje’s former opponent Charles Oliveira will face Islam Makhachev for the interim lightweight title later this month at UFC 280. The former college D1 wrestler wants Oliveira to win and keep the fight, but s waiting for Makhachev to pressure him on the ground.
“The main part of this statement is going to be Oliveira’s ability not to be subjugated by Makhachev. If he’s not submitted, chances are he’ll be on his back for three or more rounds and Makhachev wins a decision. If you know anything about it, that’s what you think is supposed to happen, but if you watch Kamaru [Usman’s] fight then you know it’s the best sport in the world because anything can happen at any time.”