Justin Gaethje: BMF belt is ‘kind of stupid’

Justin Gaethje thinks that the BMF belt is “kind of stupid.” So why the heck did he agree to fight for it against Dustin Poirier in the UFC 291 headliner in July?

The history of the UFC’s BMF title

When the Baddest Motherf**ker championship was created, it was supposed to be a one-and-done scenario. Nate Diaz and Jorge Masvidal fought for the BMF belt at UFC 244 in 2019.

It was the result of Diaz and Masvidal trash talking each other. The BMF belt was also a way for the UFC to hype up their UFC 244 headliner in New York. It added a little spice to the highly anticipated match-up, which was attended by then-sitting U.S. President Donald Trump.

But it wasn’t meant to be a full-fledged championship.

“No. It’s a one-and-done,” UFC president White answered, when asked if it would be an ongoing championship designation. “Whoever wins, wins the belt and claims the title of ‘BMF.’”

Justin Gaethje thinks BMF is ‘kind of stupid’

When Gaethje was first offered to fight Poirier in a five-round headliner for UFC 291 on July 29 in Salt Lake City, he didn’t really like the idea. As a non-champion, he basically got paid the same whether he fought five rounds or three. So why do the added work for no added pay?

But when he balked at the UFC’s offer, they sweetened the pot, returning with the opportunity to fight for the BMF championship and more money. After some discussions, they came to terms, and the second ever BMF championship bout was born.

Many fans think that the BMF is a meaningless gimmick. Gaethje was initially somewhat of the same mind. It’s hard to argue that it isn’t much more than a marketing ploy, but Gaethje has come around to its worth.

“Honestly, my true assessment: when Masvidal and Diaz fought for it, I was like, ‘This is stupid.’ I still think it’s kind of stupid,” Gaethje said in an interview with Cageside Press.

Gaethje also see the BMF belt as a very real opportunity

The BMF championship still isn’t a true championship category like a weight class is. There is no BMF division, no rankings, no standings. Gaethje, however, says it is treated much the same way as a true championship in that it is an opportunity for a fighter to earn more money.

“To the fans that say it’s stupid, I say that it’s ultimately the UFC giving one more fighter one more opportunity to win and to gain an opportunity to get pay-per-view points. This belt, just like interim belts, on paper, are a championship. You are a champion in the eyes of the UFC, and when you are a champion in the eyes of the UFC, you get paid different,” Gaethje explained.

“To the people who say it’s stupid, I say it’s the UFC throwing a bone. So I’m thankful that it is an opportunity that I get to fight for. Especially because there’s only one in the world. I think that’s pretty cool. It’s a cool looking belt. I think it’s a little bit of a show, but ultimately I gotta say I think it’s the UFC throwing a bone, and I’ve got to be thankful for that.”

Where are they now? Dustin Poirier TKO’d Justin Gaethje in 2018

Poirier and Gaethje headlined UFC on FOX 29 in 2018. That was also a five-round fight, though the result didn’t fall in Gaethje’s favor. It was a brutal battle that ended with Poirier scoring an early fourth-round TKO.

Both fighters have since gone on to have other epic wars, each of them beating some of the best fighters on the planet. Many of those also being hard-fought from start to finish. They truly are two fighters – much like Diaz and Masvidal – that fit the mold for a BMF title, whether you think of it as a gimmicky marketing strategy or a legitimate championship.

Poirier and Gaethje each have grown over the years since their first fight, but Gaethje knows that simply means: no room for error at UFC 291.

“I am human and I am susceptible to make mistakes. I think I made a huge mistake in the (Charles) Oliveira fight. I became super emotional. And I think that’s one thing I will not allow to happen this fight,” Gaethje said.

“I think it’s gonna be somewhat of a chess match, ultimately, but with both of us trying to create damage at all times. Five rounds, obviously you’ve got to fight smart. Championship fight, usually the first one to make a mistake, usually loses. Ultimately, I have to be perfect. I have to fight a dog.

“Hopefully, (I) knock him out, like he knocked me out or TKO’d me in 2018.”

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