Justin Gaethje makes surprise admission about loss to Max Holloway at UFC 300

Gaethje was knocked out in the final second of his ‘BMF’ title fight with the featherweight icon

Alex Pattle
Combat Sports Correspondent
Tuesday 23 April 2024 16:38 BST
Max Holloway knocks out Justin Gaethje in UFC 300

Justin Gaethje has suggested that his broken nose did not play a key role in his UFC 300 loss to Max Holloway, who knocked out the “Highlight” in the final second in Las Vegas.

Gaethje put the ‘Baddest Motherf***er’ title on the line against Holloway on 13 April, with the latter dominating the majority of the five-round lightweight bout.

In the final second of round one, Holloway broke Gaethje’s nose with a spinning back kick, and in the final second of round five, the featherweight icon finished Gaethje with one of the most stunning knockouts in UFC history.

Speaking on The Dan Le Batard Show on Monday (22 April), Gaethje said: “It’s a momentum thing, you know? I caught that kick at the end of the first round, broke my nose… Momentum’s a hell of a thing to try to get back once you lose it.

“And I think Max did such a good job at gaining that momentum and then keeping that through the fight… He was really good. He surprised me in a couple areas, how patient he was; I thought I was going to be able to pull him into more of a fight, and his patience really threw things off for me.

“And all credit to him for executing like that. Even before that [kick], he landed a good uppercut and gave me a little buzz, and you know... just how fast he closed the distance, to me was very impressive. So, I was like, ‘Oh, s***!’”

Despite highlighting the kick at the end of round one, Gaethje insisted that his broken nose did not significantly affect his breathing.

“The crazy thing was, the last one second, neither one of my coaches that were coming into the cage saw it happen,” the American said. “They were working their way into the cage, they’ve got to get their s*** together, and so they didn’t see it happen.

Holloway (left) stopped Gaethje in the final second of their five-round fight
Holloway (left) stopped Gaethje in the final second of their five-round fight (Getty Images)

“I sat down and coach was like: ‘What the hell happened? You broke your nose!’ I was feeling my nose, I was trying to see how crooked it was. That’s the first time I ever broke my nose in a fight.

“I don’t think it did [affect my breathing, though]. I mean, I felt really good in there, you know? I felt amazing in there. We worked so hard through this whole camp to be ready for a cardiovascular war, and again, he was much more patient than I thought he was gonna be. That allowed me to not get as exhausted early on.

“Going into the fifth round, I remember thinking: ‘Wow, I’m in really good shape.’”

Gaethje, 35, was expected to challenge for the lightweight title next, but it was announced at the UFC 300 post-fight press conference that Islam Makhachev will defend the belt against Dustin Poirier instead.

In July, Gaethje avenged a loss to Poirier by knocking out his fellow American with a head kick. Poirier then bounced back with a knockout of Benoit Saint-Denis in March.

Poirier and Gaethje are both former interim champions at 155lbs, and both have failed to win undisputed gold twice – against the same opponents, no less. Poirier was submitted by Khabib Nurmagomedov in 2019 and Charles Oliveira in 2021, and Gaethje was submitted by Khabib in 2020 and Oliveira in 2022.

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