Justin Gaethje once stated that his goal in the octagon is to "create car crashes." But, apparently, he was involved in the worst kind of crash just days before his lightweight title fight against Charles Oliveira.
During the UFC's New York Media Day on Thursday, the former interim lightweight champion revealed that he was in a bad bicycle accident just a few weeks before his fight with Oliveira at UFC 274.
“Life’s crazy, man...nobody knows what we go through,” Gaethje told reporters. “My dumbass, 18 days before I fought Charles, I was riding my bicycle to the gas station to get some nicotine patches, and I had a vicious crash on my bike. Smoked my head off the road, road rash all down my back, and then go in there and took that damage that I took in that fight. That’s why I’m taking so much time off.
“It’s just crazy what we go through. Each and every one of us has different circumstances. That was such a hurdle in my last [fight]. As soon as it happened I had to go home and act like it didn’t happen, act like my vision didn’t go 100 percent f***** up for two seconds. And that’s what we’ve been doing since we were kids. You put that doubt aside. And as soon as it happened, it was like, ‘OK, what do I do next? How do I continue to improve and continue to be ready for this fight?”
When asked to elaborate on the crash, Gaethje stated that it was simply a freak accident. While some may have thought it was a bad idea to fight after suffering such injuries, he said that was never an option.
“I wasn’t doing anything stupid,” he said. “My pedal snapped off, when I was riding. It was just crazy, crazy, crazy, crazy. Stupid is what it was. I was 12 weeks into a camp. All I know is to compete, you know? I don’t let myself feel anything. I try to take away the emotions so I’m constantly either running from it, or I feel like I can control it. But in that instance I was like, ‘Oh, I f***** up. This is not good.’ But I didn’t feel compromised externally. Not even internally, because at that moment I was ready for war.
“I had a crazy rug burn. I was lubing myself up all day, every day, trying to get it to go away, and it went away really, really well. But it was f****** stupid is what it was, at the end of the day. But I had put so much work in, there was no chance I wasn’t — I’ve never backed out of a fight. I didn’t feel I needed to then, I still don’t think I should have, and I’m glad I didn’t. That was a great fight. It was very emotional because I was at home. I think that’s the mistake I made, I let the moment get to me, and that’s the lesson you learn.”
Gaethje ultimately faced Oliveira at UFC 274, but things did not go his way. Though he dropped the Brazilian early in the fight, “Do Bronx” returned the favor shortly afterward and then submitted him in the first round.
Gaethje wants to make it clear that he’s not putting the loss on his bike crash, because come fight night, he felt all the way ready to go.
“That’s why I don’t even want to talk about it, because I don’t f****** know, and I don’t want it to sound anything like that,” he said. “That was just something that happened and I’m a dumbass. That is what it is. ...
“I feel like I’ve always been 100 percent, because I don’t allow those things to deter my actions. At the end of the day, when I step in there, there’s only five things that are going to affect the outcome, and all of it has to do with my choices, actions, effort, and those things don’t matter anymore. To make it to the fight, you’ve just got to be careful, and it sounds dumb because we’re getting ready to do something really dangerous.”