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Justin
Gaethje
has been critical of Charles
Oliveira
in the past, and “The Highlight” isn’t exactly walking
back those comments as their lightweight title bout as
UFC 274
approaches.

Gaethje has previously accused Oliviera of quitting in fights. In a
recent interview with ESPN, Gaethje
explained his reasoning.

“Something about me, I say what I think,” Gaethje said. “I wasn’t
being overly critical, he wasn’t a bad champion. I was saying in
the times that he’s lost, he didn’t even get knocked out — he quit
sometimes. The choice to quit is something that one makes, and once
you make it you can make it again, because you know that it’s
there. I don’t believe I’ve ever made that choice.

“I believe that he has. That’s all I was saying is that I believe
deep down he knows his way out and that’s to quit when he gets hit
too many times, too hard.”

Oliveira was up-and-down early in his UFC tenure, but the reigning
155-pound king is in the midst of a 10-bout winning streak in which
he has finished all but one of his opponents inside the distance.
Gaethje acknowledges that “Do Bronx” has improved with time, but he
still isn’t sure that the Brazilian’s resolve will hold up under
duress.

“All those assessments were of a younger man,” Gaethje said. “He’s
[32] years old. He’s a man now with confidence. A man with
confidence is a dangerous man. He’s not the same man that I was
referencing. But again deep down, once it happened once, it’ll
happen again. And I’m the perfect guy to show it to him. I will
show it to him May 7. I’ve got to stay out of grappling positions,
but I’m gonna put a hole right in his face and it’s gonna be
glorious.”

Gaethje was unsuccessful in his last title opportunity, when he was
submitted by the undefeated Khabib
Nurmagomedov
in the second round at UFC 254. The former World
Series of Fighting title holder claims Oliveira doesn’t have the
right skill set to do the same.

“This is a world championship fight. I have to be the best in the
world for 25 minutes. If he can beat me, kudos to him,” Gaethje
said. “But he’s gonna have to walk through hell, like Khabib did.
He’s not as powerful, he doesn’t have the structure, he doesn’t
have the frame and he doesn’t have explosive takedowns. He’s gonna
have to find me making a mistake, overreaching and try to get it to
a grappling situation. Outside of that he better pray everyday that
he gets me to the ground.”

In terms of common opponents, Oliveira does have an edge,
especially with finishes of Michael
Chandler
and Dustin
Poirier
to his credit. Gaethje went the distance in a “Fight of
the Year” victory against Chandler in 2021, but he suffered a
fourth-round TKO defeat against Poirier in their 2018 meeting.
Still, Gaethje isn’t putting too much stock in Oliveira’s past
performances.

“I watch fights as they happen. I was there at the Dustin fight, I
watched the Chandler fight,” he said. “At the end of the day I
don’t take too much from anything, because 25 minutes in time is
all that matters. If you’re gonna draw too many things from the
past and try to influence that 25 minutes from different times, I
don’t think that’s how I want to approach it.”


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