Justin Gaethje on fighting wild: ‘I am wild, you know?’


One of the more time-honored ways of conveying an intent to do harm is to say you want to "beat the piss" out of someone. Depending on your taste in flourishes, sometimes there’s an adjective attached for emphasis…such as, "I want to beat the living piss" out of someone.

At any rate, this is usually an empty threat. But in the case of Justin Gaethje, who during his summers between collegiate wrestling took amateur cage fights to see how he liked it, well, he can boast of doing just that. In his first ever amateur MMA bout in Colorado, Gaethje slammed Ben DeAnda so hard into the ring that he gave up the contents of his bladder. It was a violent first look at what Gaethje can do.

And for a guy who came from the copper mines of Morenci, Arizona -- a guy who now holds the World Series of Fighting lightweight title -- it all goes down as part of Gaethje’s growing lore.

He appeared on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour and related the experience to Ariel Helwani.

"I thought, and I still think that my wrestling, I can win any fight that I need to with my wrestling," he said. "And at that point, I was much more confident with my wrestling, because I didn’t have my striking. My first fight, I don’t know if you’ve seen it, it was in a boxing ring. I double-legged him, slammed him, then I high crotched him and he tried to throw a triangle and I slammed him [again], and he pissed himself. It was a good one. Twenty-six seconds. It was all wrestling, and I was just really confident. You’ve just got to be confident in your skills and I was."

Gaethje threw in the "pissed himself" as an afterthought, just part of the procession from that night in the "Battle Under the Stars." When Helwani said, "wait, he actually pissed himself?" Gaethje explained.

"No, yeah, it was bad," he said. "He started squirting…squirting himself, it was bad man. He landed right on his head. It was not pretty."

There is guerilla footage of the event. More than the unfortunate leakages, though, it crudely documents the first time Gaethje -- who has since become a spring-loaded berserker in WSOF -- got his start. After a 7-0 amateur career, and now an 11-0 start to his professional career, Gaethje has been a veritable wrecking ball, plowing through everybody that’s stood across from him. It has all led to the big stage.

Gaethje will make his first title defense against Nick Newell on Saturday, July 5, at WSOF 11, in Daytona, Florida. It will be aired on NBC, a mantinee main event like no other before it. Gaethje, the incautious wrestler who has only heard the judge’s scorecards read once in 11 fights, against Newell, a wrestler who has only heard the judge’s scorecards once in 11 fights who happens to have one arm.

It will mark the highest profile WSOF fight to date. And even given the styles and the context and the historic elements for being on national broadcast television, the 25-year old Gaethje says he doesn’t feel specific pressure to do anything different than he usually does.

"One thing I do every fight is perform, even in wrestling matches," he said. "If you ever watched [my] wrestling matches it was exciting, win or lose. And I lost a lot at college, I lost 30 times. I know what it’s like, and I’ve learned my lessons, and I’m going to keep pushing. I’m not going to let anybody take my perfect record from me right now.

"I just need to stay on my toes…I’m going to take chances, you know? He can get as deep as he wants on a shot, he’s not going to take me down. The only way he’s going to take me down is if I fall trying to kick his head off, and I’m going to stand back up and we’re going to be swinging. I see this as an exciting fight. Nick is going to be bringing it to me."

As for what he’d say to people who think he fights wild, Gaethje agrees, but says there’s a method to this perceived madness.

"I don’t know, it’s their opinion…but I am wild, you know," he said. "It’s my style. I’m coming forward. You have to meet force on force, that’s the only way that you’re not going to get knocked out, is if you’re beating a punch, or beating a shot with your hips, he’s not going to blow through you. If you go backwards, you don’t have the same stuff on your strikes.

"I got my style, and I’m not going to change it for anybody."

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