Home Cage Advantage: Arizona fighter in UFC Main Event in Glendale

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UFC Contender Justin Gaethje stops by AZ Family Studios. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) UFC Contender Justin Gaethje stops by AZ Family Studios. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

Not long ago, Justin Gaethje was winning a wrestling state championship at Gila River Arena in Glendale. Next month, he’ll try to put himself in line for a shot at the UFC Crown. 

The Safford, Arizona native will step into the octagon against Dustin Poirier on April 14 in the UFC Main Event.

"I would say it’s a dream come true, but I'm so new in the UFC that I would say it wasn't even on my radar as something that would be possible,” said Gaethje who won two state titles at Safford. 

“It’s going to be crazy. Just having that energy and knowing that everyone is going for me. Just the fact that I wrestled four years of state in the same exact arena, on the same floor where I'll be fighting is awesome."

Gaethje enrolled at Northern Colorado in 2006. He placed 7th in the NCAA’s at 157 pounds as a junior, becoming the first Northern Colorado athlete to attain All-American. He struggled to cut weight as a senior, dropping to 149 lbs. He began his MMA career in college and made his professional debut in 2011. 

“I had no idea I could fight,” joked Gaethje in an interview at AZFamily Studios. 

“I started fighting amateur fights in college and won and decided to turn pro and won, and started getting paid. It's never been my primary goal in life. I got a human services degree. My goal is to do some social work.  But this tends to pay better so I'm going to keep doing it, ride the bus til the wheels fall off."

The Arizona kid has a great story and will have definite home cage advantage. He’s got a tremendous challenge standing in his way in 10 year veteran Dustin “the Diamond” Poirier.

“This is a fight,” said Poirier in his trip to AZ Family studios, on a separate day.  “None of these people can get in there with him. I’ve been doing this a long time. I’ve been to a few home towns and spoiled the party so it will be nothing new. 

Poirier was once a rival with Conor McGregor and lost to the champ in 106 seconds. Gaethje would love to get a shot at the champ, but needs to win this fight to make that happen. 

It’s a battle of differing styles. Gaethje uses his wrestling background and has a flair for the dramatic. Poirier is a ju jitsu expert. Gaethje is 18-1, with his only loss coming in his last fight to Eddy Alvarez. 

To buy tickets to the match at Gila River Arena click here.

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