With half of 2012 already in the books, Colorado lightweight prospect Justin Gaethje is anxious to finally get his year started at Saturday’s Ring of Fire in Broomfield, Colo.

“It’s been six months since my last fight, and to be honest, I don’t think I’ve fought enough this past year,” he said. “I’m looking to have more fights this coming year because I’m comfortable, I’m ready, and my career is at where I want it to be right now.”

Besides lack of activity, Gaethje is excited to fight again to show how his game has progressed since he was able to become a full-time fighter recently.

“For all my 10 fights I’ve been in college and I barely got to move down to the Grudge Training Center after my last fight,” Gaethje told MMAWeekly.com. “Since then, my game has improved by leaps and bounds by just being down here and being able to train at the gym every day.

“My boxing and footwork has just improved a lot. Working with (Grudge trainers) Trevor Wittman and Jake Ramos every day has helped that (part of my game) come a long way.”

At Ring of Fire, Gaethje will take on fellow undefeated prospect Marcus Edwards for the promotion’s Young Guns lightweight title. And while both fighters are perfect in 10 fights each, Gaethje doesn’t think they are equal in terms of competition.

“He’s undefeated as an amateur, and anyone that knows fighting knows there’s a big difference between being an amateur and a pro,” said Gaethje. “I personally think that throughout his whole entire amateur career, he’s taken the easier fights, when he should have been trying to take tougher fights for when he turns pro.

“I don’t care that he’s undefeated or that I’m undefeated, I’ve just really wanted to knock him out for a while now.”

Gaethje doesn’t mix words when it comes to strategy for the fight either, “My game plan is going to be the same it is for every fight; just go out there and try to put him to sleep.

“I know he’s going to try to be aggressive because he thinks that I like to push the fight, so for some reason he has to push the fight. I’m going to come forward and I’m just going to tag him really hard with some shots and knees hopefully.”

Taking a title in Ring of Fire could not only start Gaethje’s year off on a big note, but could also prove to be a big step forward in his young career.

“If things go how I want, I’ll knock him out fast and be 4-0 and get a shot anywhere,” he said. “I’m trying to take steps forward, and my coaches are always looking for opportunities. I’ve just got to (be patient) and wait for those opportunities and be ready for when they come.

“I’d rather go fast, but I’m going to just keep fighting and trying to win. If I keep winning, the rest will take care of itself.”

E-mail Mick Hammond
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