Justin Gaethje returned to the cage in thundering fashion at UFC 268 against the battle-hardened Michael Chandler in what some believed to be one of the best fights the UFC has ever witnessed. The two men plied their trades in expert fashion over three brutal rounds and fought tooth and nail to serve up the UFC acolytes up a bout to remember. Gaethje landed on the right side of the judges’ scorecards setting himself up for a blockbuster bout with Charles Oliveira for the lightweight crown.
Ahead of the lightweight strap contest Gaethje is preparing to embark on, SinkorSwimSports takes a look at the full Justin Gaethje UFC record, key career stats and his biggest accomplishments.
Justin Gaethje Stats
Name: Justin “The Highlight” Gaethje
Justin Gaethje Age: 33
Justin Gaethje Height: 5’9 ft
Justin Gaethje Reach: 70 inches
Justin Gaethje Weight Class: 165lbs
Professional record: 22-4-0
Professional debut: 07/07/2017
Justin Gaethje Fight Record
- Beat Michael Johnson by TKO – 07/07/2017
- Lost to Eddie Alvarez by KO/TKO – 02/12/2017
- Lost to Dustin Poirier by KO/TKO – 14/04/2018
- Beat James Vick by KO/TKO – 25/04/2018
- Beat Edson Barboza by KO/TKO – 30/03/2019
- Beat Donald Cerrone by KO/TKO – 14/09/2019
- Beat Tony Ferguson by KO/TKO – 09/05/2020
- Lost to Khabib Nurmagomedov by Submission – 24/10/2020
- Beat Michael Chandler by Decision – 06/09/2021
- Lost to Charles Oliveira by Submission – 07/05/2022
Justin Gaethje’s Biggest Fights
Justin Gaethje vs. Michael Johnson: UFC TUF 25 – 07/07/2017
Justin Gathje’s inaugural induction into the UFC franchise lived up to all the expectations and hype at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, as the unbeaten former World Series of Fighting champion stopped the freight train, Micahel Johnson, in a wild two-round war of attrition.
Johnson was coming off the back of a submission loss to one of the most decorated fighters on the planet, Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 205 and was desperate to silence the newcomer. Johnson’s last win came against Dustin Poirier in 2017 where he picked apart the durable Poirier in the first round to score a TKO.
Meanwhile, this was Justin Gaethje’s first time under the UFC lights and the Arizona native was hoping to make a splash on his maiden UFC voyage. The pair came tearing out of their corners throwing dynamite at each other in the middle of the cage, with Johnson briefly staggering the UFC greenhorn with a left hand.
Gaethje jumped back into the fray and some brutal strikes followed by a big knee settled the score with ‘The Menace’. From there, it was Gaethje’s time in the driving seat, as he forced pressure on Johnson pegging him back.
Midway through the first round, a left hook wobbled Johnson but the St. Louis born-brawler kept firing back. Gaethje’s shots seemed to be laced with venom as they were landing with more power and efficiency. The Coloradan mixed in leg kicks and looked to be getting the better in the action.
With 30 seconds left, Johnson replied with a thundering right uppercut that rocked Gaethje, it was now Johnson’s turn to hunt down the finish. He didn’t get the finish, but it was a strong end to the round for Johnson.
Another huge right in the second minute of round two plunged Gaethje into choppy waters once again, but again ‘The Highlight’ weathered the storm and found his way back into the bout. After swallowing a barrage of shots, Gaethje regrouped and fired back with a knee and several uppercuts with less than 90 seconds on the clock. Johnson was left a corpse, unable to stand with crimson running down his face. Referee John McCarthy intervened, stopping the fight at 4:48 in the second.
Interestingly, it was Gaethje who recorded more significant strikes to the head with 62 of 124. Johnson managed to chalk 47 of 146 significant strikes to the head on to the board.
Justin Gaethje vs. Eddie Alvarez: UFC 218 – 02/12/2017
The faithful UFC acolytes had been salivating at the chance to see Eddie Alvarez trade leather with Justin Gaethje, and when Dana White announced the two fighters were to meet, the fans erupted into pandemonium. The pair delivered the goods and then some, with the former lightweight champion scoring a stirring third-round knockout over Gaethje, who suffered his first professional loss on the UFC circuit.
Gaethje went after the former champion’s legs to start, in the hope of disabling his opponent, and while Alvarez answered with some big shots back, the kicks were immediately paying dividends. Alvarez was forced to switch stances to deal with the kicks and his movement was being compromised with Gaethje continuing to march forward.
Alvarez got a flash takedown with just over two minutes left but Gaethje jolted back into action and was back on his feet within a split second. Late in the round, Alvarez began to pepper Gaethje with unforgiving body blows sapping the energy from the Coloradan. Alvarez expertly fired at a cut over Gaethje’s left eye, capping a strong finish for the former champ.
Alvarez flew out of his corner in the second round employing the same tactics as he did in the first, hammering the body in the hope of gassing Gaethje out. ‘The Underground King’ didn’t abandon the head either, adding some eye-popping shots to further his lead. Gaethje refused to give up entering a firefight with the Puerto Rican native swelling the right side of his face.
Gaethje staggered Alvarez with another hard kick to the leg early in round three, and the Arizonan kept the pressure on as he continued to pinpoint the former champion’s legs. Alvarez did his best to close the distance in the hope of nullifying his opponent’s stinging leg kicks and the Philadelphian got his wish, he landed a thundering right knee that sent Gaethje toppling down to the canvas. An exhausted follow-up series of punches from Alvarez finished the job, with referee Herb Dean halting the bout at 3:59 of the third frame.
Justin Gaethje vs. Dustin Poirier: UFC Fight Night – 14/04/2018
There were huge expectations for the UFC Glendale main event between Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje and the two lightweight contenders lived up to all of them, delivering a war of attrition and a thrilling battle that ended with a fourth-round stoppage victory for Dustin Poirier.
It was no surprise that the bout got off to a searing start with fists and feet flying as soon as the referee Herb Dean waved the combatants together. Gaethje focused on Poirier’s legs as the ‘Diamond’ opted to fire shots upstairs instead.
The first round’s pace was brutally fast and after a continuation of lighting-quick fighting, there was a momentary break in the action early in round two when Poirier got poked in the eye. The Louisana native threw together several hard combinations, but Gaethje walked through it and continued to batter Poirier’s right leg.
Arizona’s Gaethje was clearly the fresher of the two entering round three, and continued to stalk his opponent, who had suffered a gash over his eye. With a little over three minutes left, Gaethje unloaded a huge right stunning Poirier, who retreated to the back of the fence. ‘The Highlight’ continued on the attack but Poirier was able to buy some time and made it to the centre of the octagon.
Seconds into the fourth round, Poirier threw down the gauntlet knocking Gaethje’s chin into orbit with a sublime left strike. The Arizona native wobbled and stumbled around the cage not knowing which was up. Gaethje did everything in his power to stay in the fight, but it was not to be, as Poirier’s barrage of punches brought in Dean to stop the bout at :33 of the fourth round.
Justin Gaethje vs. James Vick: UFC Fight Night – 25/08/2018
The two brawlers had exchanged words in the run-up to the fight and Gaethje had said that James Vick wasn’t on his level and he would pay for all the trash talk leading into their main event on Saturday night in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Just over a minute into the first frame, Gaethje herded Vick into the fence and after going high with a left hook, the lightweight warrior came over the top with a looping right hand that landed flush and toppled the towering Texan.
The fight was finished the second Gaethje’s huge right connected with Vick’s face. The trash-talking Texan crashed to the canvas in a heap, while Gaethje ran across the cage to clamber up the side of the fence to perform his customary backflip in celebration.
Justin Gaethje could not have asked for a better return to the eight walls of death, who had been on the business end of a pair of punishing stoppages in his last two outings. For Vick, this was the opportunity that he had been begging for, a main assignment against a legitimate Top-10 contender. Vick squandered the opportunity and the loss halted his four-fight winning streak.
Justin Gaethje vs. Donald Cerrone: UFC Fight Night – 14/09/2019
Gaethje arrived in Vancouver as the heavy favourite against Lightweight contender Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone. ‘The Highlight’ looked flawless as he dispatched the veteran gunslinger in the first round. Gaethje fed Cerrone a steady diet of leg kicks in the opening of the first frame before firing some huge shots to the head.
Gaethje was scoring well and landing his dangerous shots with ease, cutting inside to avoid Cerrone’s sniping strikes. Cerrone stayed in the fray, but a right hand with under a minute left hurt and dropped him. Cerrone rose before Gaethje unleashed another blistering right that put him on his knees. ‘The Highlight’ hesitated to keep unloading punches at his fallen foe, but had to land a couple more to trigger referee Jerin Valel to wave the bout off at the 4:18 mark.
Justin Gaethje vs. Tony Ferguson: UFC 249 – 09/05/2020
Justin Gaethje put on a striking masterclass to score a surprise knockout over Tony Ferguson at UFC 249, which took place in an empty VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Florida. Gaethje was on a three-fight winning streak before Ferguson and had hardly missed a beat, getting three first-round knockouts over James Vick, Edson Barboza and Donald Cerrone.
Meanwhile, Tony Ferguson was riding an incredible wave of momentum, boasting a 12-fight winning streak and was the man believed to dethrone the untouchable Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Both men started the first round exercising caution before Gaethje began throwing his entire arsenal at the unorthodox Ferguson. The underdog fired winging punches between heavy leg kicks. Never one to retreat from a fight, Ferguson responded with his trademark jab while eating up damage. Ferguson proved that he possessed a cast-iron chin as Gaethje unloaded some piercing left hooks landing with accuracy on Ferguson’s face.
Ferguson turned up his offensive output down the stretch of the second round only to be nullified by Gaethje’s sharp leg kicks. Ferguson continued to absorb the wrath of Gaethje until a thundering uppercut landed on the chin of ‘The Highlight’ crumbling the Coloradan to the canvass. Gaethje was saved by the sound of the second round bell after rising from the floor.
Gaethje recovered in the interim and came flying out of his corner coming into the third, landing heavier punches in the hope of stripping the sheen off of Ferguson’s knockout. Still, Ferguson’s relentless march forward continued, landing sporadically in between the massive bombs of Gaethje.
In round 4, the stone jaw of Ferguson finally started to crack. For the first time, Ferguson looked exhausted and his legs looked like they were on the verge of buckling. Another huge right hand found a home on the face of ‘El Cucuy’ and a barrage of relentless leg kicking ensued. The overwhelming striking supremacy from Gaethje didn’t stop in the final round, with ‘The Highlight’ hammering Ferguson and sending him stumbling repeatedly.
After almost five full rounds of absolute domination, a Gaethje jab was the final undoing of the resilient and battle-hardened Tony Ferguson. The five-round mauling was concluded as Ferguson continued to shake his head and stumble backward with his arms and legs seeming to betray him. Referee Herb Dean jumped in to call a halt to the bout at the 3:39 mark of Round 5.
Justin Gaethje vs. Michael Chandler: UFC 268 – 07/11/2021
Arguably one of the best lightweight battles to have ever unfolded in the bloody eight walls of death, Justin Gaethje and Michael Chandler put on an MMA masterclass last November. In the most action-packed fight of 2021, ‘The Highlight’ rallied to put in a performance of a lifetime defeating Chandler via unanimous decision (29-29, 29-28, 30-27).
Gaethje opened up the first frame in textbook fashion with the Coloradan chopping away at Chandler’s legs in an attempt to nullify his opponent early. Chandler proved he was made of sterner stuff as he slung leather at the former interim champions face, the back and forth continued as the pair engaged in a dangerous firefight just under the four-minute mark but both remained resilient. With the fans wrestling with what man they wanted to make the next move, Chandler blasted Gaethje with a venomous combination snapping his head back. Gaethje revelled in the onslaught firing back in the hope of suppressing the Missouri-born boxer.
In the second round, it was Gaethje’s turn. The All American wrestler tore into the second frame with scathing prowess, peppering his opponent with a slice of scorn. The duo barely missed a beat and the damage started piling up. Gaethje discovered his range and started landing his harrowing right uppercut. Gaethje eventually found a way through with 3:26 remaining in the second with an uppercut that knocked Chandler’s jaw into orbit. ‘Iron’ tumbled down onto the canvas and Gaethje wasted no time pouncing on his injured corpse. Miraculously Chandler initiated survivor mode and scrambled to safety firing a desperate takedown attempt to mitigate the damage.
The third frame arrived and the fans erupted into pandemonium with deafening noise. Chandler knew he had to turn on the style if he had any hope of getting his hand raised and ploughing some big body shots to Gaethje started the round off right. But whatever he threw at the former interim champion, the uppercut returned, doing some major damage. Still, Chandler was hellbent on victory and kept coming forward, smiling, with blood pouring down his face and a repetitive egging on of Gaethje. Chandler continued the taunting in the hope of forcing a mistake, he even waved Gaethje to come forward. Chandler found a big slam but Gaethje elevated to his back playing Chandler’s head like drums. The firefight continued as Gaethje and Chandler traded leather firing huge bombs. The ‘Highlight’ eventually ended on the right side of the judges’ cards in a mouth-watering lightweight battle.