The World Series of Fighting’s sixth card will kick off in the lightweight division as former University of Northern Colorado wrestler Justin Gaethje meets UFC veteran Dan Lauzon. The former college wrestler is not like most former wrestlers however, as he looks to bring a more well-rounded attack whenever he steps into the cage. MMAFrenzy recently spoke with the talented prospect about his upcoming fight, his training, MMA sponsors, and more.
Is it hard to stay focused on Dan Lauzon when some have tabbed you as a prospect to watch?
You know people keep asking me about the next step but I am focused on Dan right now. He is a really aggressive fighter like I am and he never stops coming forward, like me, so I am looking forward to an exciting fight. He won’t step backwards and I won’t either, so I think we will meet in the middle and throwdown. That’s what I am hoping for anyways.
Your style seems to conflict with the common idea that wrestlers are “boring.” Was that a conscious effort by you or was it simply something that happened as you trained in other martial arts?
No, I think one thing I have established is that I wouldn’t be that wrestler that just used wrestling to win fights. I have worked hard on my striking at Grudge Training Center and I feel really comfortable there. I have the wrestling but this isn’t a wrestling match and I am not just going to use that to win fights. No one will ever consider me a boring fighter, I hope.
It is obvious that you have been working on your striking a lot, and it has paid off for sure, but how much has Grudge helped mold you into a complete martial artist and was that your goal from the start?
Yeah, we’re doing MMA. I don’t want to be the best boxer or the best wrestler, I want to be the best fighter. So you work on everything from jiu-jitsu to striking and Trevor [Whittman] has a knack for turning wrestlers into complete fighters. He doesn’t try to tear it all down and start over, he builds the striking from your wrestling. He uses that drive that wrestlers have for hard work to make it all come together.
You pulled off are rare feat by scoring a leg kick TKO in your last fight, was that something you were aiming for?
No, I have worked on legkicks and I picked them up off the bat. Fortunately it was something I was good at too. Trevor worked on helping me learn to set up my angles and timing rather than just kicking as hard as I can and checking kicks. Now I use my angles better and I get myself into positions where they cannot check the kicks. It’s just something we have been working on.
You have stayed very active since coming into MMA in August of 2011, is staying busy your preference or has it just worked out that way?
Yeah, I like to fight as many times as possible. People only remember what they’ve seen recently. So [if you don’t fight often] people may like what they see but then they forget. So I go out there and put on good fights as often as I can and people will want to watch me even more.
Weigh-ins have become a bit of a newsworthy topic recently. As a former wrestler, how do you cut weight and how did you learn?
I was wrestling my whole life and you learn it over time. You have to learn what you should or shouldn’t be eating or drinking. It’s all about what watching what you put in. I used to pride myself on being one of the bigger lightweights and being able to cut 20-pounds that few days before weigh-ins but it started leaving me feeling drained. My last 2-3 fight I have been around 163-pounds before the fight and I am just two hard workouts away from being on weight. That has helped me a lot by doing what makes me feel better for my fights.
As a big lightweight have you ever though about going up to welterweight at times?
I don’t like fighting tall guys and the more you go up the taller the guys get. I had three fights at 170 but I would really only go up there if I needed to take a fight to stay active. I like where I am at.
Do you think there is any way to implement any sort of regulations on weigh-ins like we dealt with in college?
We’re professional athletes now and we weren’t in college. We are all old enough and wise enough that you have to know better. It is no secret that it drains you, that is part of the game. I don’t think it should be regulated at all because we are grown men and should be able to regulate that ourselves.
This will be your third fight with the World Series of Fighting, what is it like to have been a part of a growing promotion that seems to get better each time out?
It is awesome! That’s what I am here to do. I am here to build my name and they’re here to build their name, so I am definitely going to help build their name by building my name. I look at this one fight at a time and, while I am looking forward to my future, I am not looking toward my future my working hard.
Is it easier to shut out all of the outside noise about the UFC, Bellator, etc. when you have a promotion like WSOF that lines up good fights for you fairly regularly?
Yeah, I am planning on being the same way even if I make it to the UFC one day. I am looking to make as much money as I can in the sport and right now I feel the WSOF is doing a great job of getting me there and I am very happy here.
Have you had any issues with finding sponsors these days?
Yeah, like I said, I am here to make a living. I can honestly say I have never a big sponsor for any of my fights because I didn’t really focus on that. I had a manager to handle that and when it didn’t happen it didn’t bother me but money is why we do this. I have had a hard time finding sponsors even though I am on the main card on [NBC Sports Network]. Even the older guys say that it is harder to find sponsors these days.
I think the UFC makes it hard to find sponsors because they make it harder for sponsors and then sponsors think MMA isn’t worth it to them. It is a slippery slope that has seemed to get worse and hopefully we can figure out a way to regulate it where the promotions call allow fighters to make all the money they can.
Anything you want to tell the fans before you hit the cage?
I just want to give a shoutout to Grudge Wear because they have really helped me out at Grudge Training Center. I want to tell the fans to be ready because I think Dan is ready to put on a show like I am. Hopefully we stand and trafe and I don’t just chase him around the cage and I will be looking to finish him.
WSOF 6 will take place on the campus of the University of Miami on October 26. The October 26 lineup will be headlined by a WSOF welterweight championship pairing between Josh Burkman and Steve Carl. The card will be co-headlined by the fast-rising Marlon Moraes taking on fellow prospect Carson Beebe.
Be sure to look with more interviews with WSOF 6 fight card members throughout the week and tune in this Saturday on WSOF 6. You can follow Justin Gaethje on twitter @Justin_Gaethje and be sure to tune for when he takes on Dan Lauzon on the WSOF 6 main card.