Justin Gaethje has no problem giving credit where credit is due.
After branding lightweight champion Charles Oliveira a “quitter” after he seemingly fell apart in the face of adversity on numerous occasions in his career, the No. 1 ranked contender in the division saw a different animal on Saturday night as “Do Bronx” dismantled Dustin Poirier to retain his title at UFC 269.
“I absolutely loved it,” Gaethje said about the performance on the UFC 269 post-fight show. “I will give no disrespect to Charles. He is now the undisputed champion and I cannot wait to fight him. I don’t care where or when.”
While Gaethje was genuinely complimentary regarding the impressive submission win, the UFC’s human highlight reel also couldn’t help but notice a few tendencies from Oliveira during the fight that he absolutely plans to seize upon when they finally clash in the octagon.
“I saw a competitor tonight,” Gaethje said when addressing Oliveira. “I saw a dog and I can’t wait to break his face. He gets hit a lot.
“He better pray and hope for the next however many days until our fight that he takes me down, gets his choke. Because if not, we see what happens.”
Gaethje, who just recently competed in what could be the Fight of the Year against Michael Chandler, had no idea what to expect once Oliveira and Poirier started exchanging shots in the middle of the cage.
Oliveira had to survive several nasty shots from Poirier in the opening round but once he started to use his grappling more effectively, the Brazilian really started to take over.
Eventually, Oliveira locked on the standing rear-naked choke that forced Poirier to tap out in the third round.
“I had 1-1 [after two rounds] and I thought Poirier would take over,” Gaethje said. “I’ve got to give this man credit. He’s right here. I can’t wait to fight him. I’ve been working for this my whole life. To be here. After the second round, someone asked me what’s going to happen, I said I still do not know.
“That’s why I love this sport so much. I still didn’t know after the second round who was going to win, who was up. I had no idea. Just like I didn’t know on Thursday or Monday of last week. That’s why I love this sport. That’s why I can’t wait to fight this dude.”
Gaethje had never actually met Oliveira before Saturday night but just after his interview ended, he went over to congratulate the lightweight champion on his victory.
That said, Gaethje can’t wait for his opportunity to face Oliveira as he seeks to become UFC champion for the first time in his career.
“He just won a championship. I should build it up,” Gaethje said. “At the end of the day, it’s me trying to knock him out versus him trying to get it to the ground. That’s who we are. That’s who he’s been. That’s who I am.
“Whether it’s in Brazil, in America, preferably not Abu Dhabi. I’m all in. So I can’t wait.”