You read the headline correctly. Here at MMA Soldier we are committed to bringing the fight (literally and figuratively) on the frontlines..and in the trenches. Part of earning your hard stripes as a journalist involves marching into the flames, sometimes putting yourself in harm's way and riding close to the edge of danger to get a story that others are not willing to risk.
Our unique brand of Smashmouth Journalism is just what it sounds like: a hard-knock style of ground-pounding journalism that finds our reporters steering INTO the storm, rather than away from it. Some times that includes literally getting smashed in the mouth.
Currently, you are reading the ramblings from the only person on earth who has sparred with BOTH competitors in the UFC Lincoln Main Event. Do not mistake these revelations as bravado or braggadocio. The intent is not to sound glib, or arrogant. After all, you know how this story ends. I got my ass kicked by both of them. What else did you think would happen?
Watch the video below to see training footage and interviews with both men. After that, if you are still following, continuing reading below for a breakdown.
Many writers in MMA Media, particularly Robin Black and Dan Tom are exceptional at breaking down fights, and can you guess what both of them have in common? They have been in the cage and competed in MMA. So has yours truly!
That's why we present this new segment: BREAKING DOWN THE 4th WALL, where MMA Soldier takes you into the fire and emerges with a candid perspective on an upcoming fight. Today's discussion revolves around #7 ranked Justin Gaethje, who takes on #10 ranked James Vick, August 25th in Lincoln Nebraska.
If you want a real thorough breakdown from the best in the business, go follow Robin Black and Dan Tom's work. In fact, you should do that anyway. The following is intended more for entertainment and information purposes and should NOT be used a betting guide whatsoever.
Let's start with what you already know: BOTH are finishers, BOTH have excellent resumés and BOTH are among the best in the world. As for their fight styles and body types, the two couldn't be any more different. Though both are excellent and even underrated grapplers, they are certainly known for their striking, above all else.
JUSTIN GAETHJE: His leg kicks are legendary. After feeling them for myself, I can better explain how much of a problem they will be. Vick has excellent footwork, as he comes from a boxing background. That being said, Gaethje's style is awkward and unpredictable; his leg kicks are a product of that style. As a result, they are fast, they seem to come from nowhere and (SURPRISE) they hurt like Hell!
Gaethje uses leg kicks to slowly stifle his opponent's movement but he also does a great job closing distance, setting up combos and keeping you guessing. Did I mention they hurt like Hell?
Another technique that Justin caught me with repeatedly was an overhand left that he either feints or throws with reckless abandon. If you aren't careful, he can use the punch to set up a clinch or just knock the crap out of you. From there, he is exceptionally explosive in the clinch, grappling and ESPECIALLY in scrambles. Gaethje is a crafty veteran and he's as tough as they come.
JAMES VICK: As previously mentioned, Vick started as a boxer, but he has really evolved into a complete Mixed Martial Artist since originally landing in the UFC after a run on Ultimate Fighter. He's very underrated too. With one loss on his overall record, his UFC record is 9-1 with 5 finishes.
Now for the breakdown. Again, we'll start with the obvious, James Vick is very tall and has excellent handspeed and footwork. He has one punch knockout power and he has excellent Muay Thai and submissions.
As for my experience with him...you can watch for yourself above. After sparring with Vick I learned just how much harder he hits than you think. For example, in the video he doesn't appear to land many flush punches but believe me, he did, and they hurt like a sonofabitch. When he pops that jab out - it will snap your whole head back. He's very quick and very light on his feet making him hard to put hands on and he knows it. He's a tactician with equal parts technique and killer instinct.
He uses his length incredibly well and keeps you on the end of his punches and kicks before he become acutely aware of your mistakes and goes in for a kill shot like a sniper. I am about 6'2" and even I had a hard time closing distance with Vick.
Justin Gaethje is excellent at doing so, in fact, as a short Lightweight he's used to moving forward at a constant pace and his pace is an intense one. In the video you watched when I sparred Justin Gaethje, that was AFTER he sparred for 5 rounds of 5 minutes each. But with James Vick, he has a lot of reach and footwork to overcome.
As for predictions...Hell no! I'll leave that up to the "experts".