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Morning Report: Justin Gaethje dislikes ‘bulls**t’ trash talk: This is not a game to me

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This Friday, former World Series of Fighting champion Justin Gaethje will make his long-awaited UFC debut when he takes on Michael Johnson in the main event of The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale. As the fight has gotten nearer, the rivalry between the two has heated up, crescendoing with Johnson’s recent statements to Gaethje calling him “the most inbred piece of sh*t I’ve ever seen in my life.” Johnson went on to awkwardly double down on the comments asking, “Did your mom have sex with her brother to have you or was it her cousin? Who in the family had sex with each other to have you?” Johnson went on to post the video to his Instagram account, saying that this was “mental warfare” and that “these words mean nothing.”

But not for Gaethje. Speaking on a Facebook Q & A that has since been taken down, Gaethje says that he took the comments personally and that soon the bill will come due.

“Johnson is a mental midget. You see his interviews and he says this is all talk, he’s just trying to build the fight. No. This is not a game to me. Everything you’ve said, I’ve taken personal. It doesn’t affect me emotionally. I wanted to kill him when the fight got announced and I want to kill him now. No more, no less. It’s life or death for me every single time I step in the cage.”

Whether this is all gamesmanship on the part of Johnson remains to be seen but it does seem to be indicative of a larger trend in the MMA world, what could reasonably be called “the McGregor Effect.” McGregor’s meteoric rise to stardom and unparalleled financial success on the back of his brash-talking self-promotion has brought with it an increase in similar behavior from other fighters looking to strike it big. Speaking with ESPN’s Brett Okamoto recently, lamented the type of “bulls**t” trash talk that’s now become commonplace for fighters like Johnson.

“The most detrimental thing to me is the fact you have to be a piece of s**t for people to like you. It’s crazy to me. People love the fact Chael Sonnen is saying he’s undefeated. It’s crazy to me that people like something like that but don’t give respect to the fighters that just put it on the line. Tim Boestch just got a sweet KO. He’s not gonna talk s**t so it won’t help him. That’s unfortunate. I don’t like how people are so uneducated they need bulls**t to watch a fight. You see Tony Ferguson saying he won’t fight Kevin Lee because he doesn’t meet his standards? F**k him. That’s a b**ch move. You’re at the top and either you want to fight or you don’t. I want to fight and hopefully that registers with the UFC.”

For Gaethje, the mental warfare isn’t something that takes place at the press conferences but inside the cage. And Gaethje doesn’t need a disingenuous tough guy persona on the microphone because he lets his fighting do the talking for him.

“I’m trying to be as real as I can and I’m being myself. I’m not gonna create an act. I’m not larger than life, my personality is not larger than life, I promise you. But when I fight I am larger than life, I promise you that.”


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Genuinely wish her the best of luck here.

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A post shared by Robert Whittaker (@robwhittakermma) on

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Happy 4th of July for all the American readers out there. I hope it’s a good one. And for everyone else, happy Tuesday and I hope it’s good for you as well. Take it easy everyone and Conor bless.

If you find something you'd like to see in the Morning Report, just hit me up on Twitter @JedKMeshew and let me know about it. Also follow MMAFighting on Instagram and add us on Snapchat at MMA-Fighting because we post dope things and you should enjoy it.

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