Justin Gaethje was one of the UFC‘s bigger free agent signings this year. The undefeated lightweight won the WSOF 155lb title back in 2014, and successfully defended it six times before leaving the promotion and jumping to the UFC earlier this year. Friday night, he’ll make his promotional debut in the main event of The Ultimate Fighter 25 finale against Michael Johnson.
Gaethje (17–0) spoke to MMA Junkie radio this week, and explained his reason for making the switch. Talking to the show, he made it clear that the financials were a big part of the equation. “This is America, man. You’ve got to negotiate” he told the show.
Still, level of competition played a role. “Hindsight, of course, I knew I was going to get a chance to fight Michael Johnson or somebody in the top five, top six” he explained.
“As long as the money matched up, I knew that’s what I wanted to do.”
Yet the UFC and WSOF weren’t the only horses in the race. Gaethje singled out Bellator as a promotion that was definitely in the running for his services.
“I give Bellator respect. They wanted me, and they respectfully came and tried to do it” he said of the Viacom owned promotion, currently led by former Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker. “We talked a couple times. I like those guys over there. I have nothing but respect for them.”
The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale takes place Friday at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.