Daniel Cormier heaped praise on Justin Gaethje’s performance against Rafael Fiziev at UFC 286.
Gaethje (24-4 MMA, 7-4 UFC) outlasted Fiziev (12-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) by majority decision in this past Saturday’s co-headliner at The O2 in London and snapped the rising contender’s winning streak in a bloody battle.
Cormier credited Gaethje for overcoming Fiziev’s speed and putting it on him in Round 3 to close out the fight strong.
“What an amazing fight,” Cormier said on his YouTube channel. “First thing I told Justin Gaethje in the octagon after was, ‘Justin Gaethje, you’re my hero,’ because I think Justin Gaethje is everybody’s hero. He was at such a speed disadvantage in this fight. It was never more evident than very early in the fight.
“He was a tad bit slower, but he was so intent on winning that it didn’t matter what Fiziev gave him. He continued to fight with his game plan, with his pressure, and it paid dividends as the fight went on. By the third round, Justin Gaethje couldn’t miss. He was landing the jab at will. He was landing the uppercut at will.”
Former interim lightweight champion Gaethje maintained his spot at the top of the division and sees a rematch with Dustin Poirier or Charles Oliiveira as the logical next step. Prior to the fight, Cormier said Fiziev was a must-win fight for Gaethje.
“Justin Gaethje was sure there was no changing in the guard at 155 pounds,” Cormier said. “He did what he needed to do in order to turn back the Rafael Fiziev threat to his place amongst the division’s elite.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 286.