Justin Gaethje provides update on UFC return after knockout by Max Holloway

Gaethje was knocked out in stunning fashion at UFC 300, in the final second of his ‘BMF’ title defence

Alex Pattle
Combat Sports Correspondent
Wednesday 24 April 2024 10:17 BST
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Max Holloway knocks out Justin Gaethje in UFC 300

Justin Gaethje has said he would be “foolish” to return to sparring in fewer than six months, after he was knocked out by Max Holloway at UFC 300.

On 13 April, featherweight icon Holloway moved up to lightweight to challenge Gaethje for the ‘Baddest Motherf***er’ title. The Hawaiian put on a clinic for five rounds before knocking out the American in the final second of the fight, with one of the greatest finishes in UFC history.

The result seemingly cost Gaethje a shot at the lightweight title in his next fight. However, the 35-year-old has acknowledged that the division moves quickly, and that he could yet find himself paired against the winner of June’s title fight between Islam Makachev and Dustin Poirier.

“Metaphorically, I could be ready tomorrow, but physically, I do want to take care of myself,” Gaethje said on The Dan Le Batard Show this week.

“I do think that repeated concussions, with me going to sleep like that, me receiving that shot... It would be foolish for me to jump back into training any time before 180 days.

“I could do cardio, I can stay in shape, that’s what I want to try and do. Especially the older I get, the harder it is to get back to the best shape of my life, so I want to stay active. Obviously the physical contact is going to be limited for quite some time, just because I want to preserve myself.

“I think [it will be] six months, at least, before I get back to taking shots. But that doesn’t say that I won’t be training the whole time.”

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

Gaethje seemed to establish himself as No 1 contender at lightweight by knocking out Poirier in July, only to be lined up against Holloway instead. Poirier has since bounced back by knocking out Benoit Saint-Denis, and in a strange turn of events, will challenge Makhachev while Gaethje faces an unclear future at 155lbs.

Poirier and Gaethje are both former interim lightweight champions who have twice failed to win the undisputed title. Poirier came up short against Khabib Nurmagomedov in 2019 and Charles Oliveira in 2021, while Gaethje lost to Khabib in 2020 and Oliveira in 2022. Poirier and Gaethje were submitted in each of those fights.

“It’s a crazy game,” Gaethje said. “We’ll see how that Dustin [and] Makhachev fight goes. Crazy game.”

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