Having been steadily building his career since debuting as an amateur in 2006, Colorado lightweight Justin Gaethje has finally arrived in a large promotion with the chance of getting national exposure after signing with the World Series of Fighting.
“I’ve been working towards those goals and had some big fights last year which set me up to get a phone call from the WSoF,” said Gaethje. “All that work is finally paying off and I’m going to a big show.
“It’s something that I’ve been waiting for and I’m pumped. I saw their first show and it was great and they have great supporters and backers, so I think it sets up for something good.”
A standout wrestler at Northern Colorado University, Gaethje told MMAWeekly.com that his continued work at Grudge Training Center has elevated him from a one-dimensional fighter to an all-around dangerous threat.
“I had to rely a lot on my wrestling when I first started out, and working at Grudge with some of the best coaches around has helped my stand-up come a long way,” said Gaethje. “I’m just working to where I’m well-rounded so (my opponents) have to worry about everything and keep them guessing.”
Gaethje’s development in his striking could play a big part in his WSoF debut on March 23 when he takes on Gesias “JZ” Cavalcante in Atlantic City, N.J., to be broadcast on the NBC Sports Network.
“JZ is a great fighter and can be a real brawler, so I’m expecting it to be a real exciting fight,” Gaethje said. “I just think I’m going to have success on my feet with my kicks and punches, and I think I’m going to be able to knock him out on the feet.
“If he wants to go to the ground, I invite him to try to take me down, which I don’t think he’ll be able to do. I think he’s going to be stuck on his feet and he’s going to get hit and he’s not going to know what to do.”
A win over a solid veteran such as Cavalcante on a nationally broadcasted event could very well be the springboard to bring Gaethje major exposure and set him up for a big run in the promotion in the coming years.
“When I signed my contract they said they wanted to build me up, but then they throw me to the wolves,” said Gaethje with a laugh. “I’m looking to win this fight convincingly and hopefully they’ll put me up for a title or somewhere close.
“I’m ready and excited to show everybody what I’ve been working my whole life for.”