Justin Gaethje hit a snag on the way to his championship fight against Charles Oliveira at UFC 274 this past May.
For the first time at a UFC media event on Thursday, Gaethje revealed that he was involved in a ‘vicious’ bicycle accident a couple of days before he was scheduled to fight Oliveira.
“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 like a vicious crash on my bike,” said Gaethje (video provided by MMA Fighting). “Smoked my head off the road, road rash all down my back, and then go in there and take that damage I took in that fight. That’s why I’m taking so much time off.
“It’s just crazy what we go through,” continued Gaethje. “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—ked for two seconds. That’s what we’ve been doing since we were kids, you put that doubt aside. And as soon as that happened, it’s like, ‘OK, what do I do next? How do I continue to improve and continue to just be ready for this fight?’”
Despite his injuries, Gaethje said he never considered withdrawing from the fight. Given how much time, effort and money went into his preparation for Oliveira, there was no way he could justify it. Added to that, this was his second opportunity at the UFC lightweight championship, so he felt as though he needed to be in the Octagon that night.
“I wasn’t doing anything stupid,” said Gaethje. “It was just — my pedal snapped off when I was riding. Crazy, crazy, crazy. Stupid is what it was.
“I was 12 weeks into a camp. I was thousands in — I mean, all I know is to compete. I don’t let myself feel anything. I try to take away all the emotions, so I’m constantly either running from it or I feel like I can control it. But in that instance it was like, ‘Oh, I f—ked up, this is not good.’ But I didn’t feel compromised, like, externally, not even internally. At that moment, I was ready for war.”
Gaethje was successful in the beginning of the first round against Oliveira, dropping ‘Do Bronx’ twice. However, the momentum shifted once the ‘Highlight’ got dropped and submitted by rear-naked choke shortly after.
Following his loss to the Brazilian, Gaethje underwent surgery to repair his nose, which had been broken for 13 years. Now nearing the end of his recovery, the Elevation Fight Team product is gearing up for his return next year.