LAS VEGAS – UFC lightweight Justin Gaethje doesn’t seem to be holding a grudge against his debut opponent Michael Johnson.
But he might be building a new one with Michael Bisping, who backed Johnson in Friday’s FS1-televised The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
“Bisping, he said that he wanted Michael Johnson to go out there and represent all UFC fighters,” Gaethje (18-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) told MMAjunkie after his spectacular second-round TKO of Johnson (17-12 MMA, 9-8 UFC). “That’s only because they’re cut from the same cloth. Not many fighters want Michael Johnson and the way he was speaking to represent them. You want me representing you, because I put it on the line.
“I’m not here to crap on anybody, except Michael Bisping. He didn’t even know how to say my name. I bet he knows now.”
Gaethje and Johnson jawed back and forth in the buildup to their fight, and Johnson made some poor choices when insulting Gaethje’s family. Gaethje said he didn’t let the words get him off track but kept them in the back of his head during the fight.
Then, he had the last word with a knee to the face that forced referee John McCarthy to intervene in the second.
Just one round earlier, Johnson had badly hurt Gaethje with an uppercut, sending him teetering backward and nearly ending his UFC debut in disaster.
“He almost finished me; ‘Big’ John (McCarthy) said he was going to stop it,” Gaethje said. “I was there. Obviously, when I got smoked, I was a little dazed. But we get punched in the face. But like I said, I’ve got the biggest heart. I am the most violent guy in the division. I’ll prove it time and time again.”
Gaethje is now targeting an interim title fight with Tony Ferguson.
After all the bad blood, Gaethje told Johnson good job and commended him for hanging in as long as he could before the stoppage. Now, he’s ready to take over the rest of the lightweight division.
“On to the next one,” Gaethje said. “That was cool. But I have something to prove here. I’ve been saying I’m the best in the world for a long time, so I will have another fight. Gotta start preparing now.”
For complete coverage of The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale, check out the UFC Events section of the site.
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