Justin Gaethje is Mexican American and Canal 6 had the opportunity to talk exclusively with his mother Carolina Espinoza Gaethje about his Mexican roots, his weekend bout, and how they spent Mother's Day.
Justin Gaethje had the biggest moment in his mixed martial arts career when he beat Tony Fergurson at UFC 249 to become the interim lightweight champion. Speaking exclusively to Carolina Espinoza Gaethje, mother of UFC fighter Justin Gaethje, she talked about the Mexican roots in her family. "Very good. Tired. Because the night before, we stayed up very late, very late (watching the fight)," Carolina said.
Do you travel to your son's fights?
"This is the first time we couldn't go. We've been to all of them except this one."
Must this fight have been a very different dynamic for you?
"If my other son could have been there. They're buddies. He could have been there because you walked in with him."
How did you experience Mother's Day? Have you been able to talk to your son yet?
"As soon as the fight was over and he went into the dressing room. Our other son spoke to us and we were able to talk to Justin. They were stapling his finger, while he was talking to us. Then he talked to us the next day when he got to Colorado. I talked to him almost every day."
What did your son say to you?
"That he could rest now, that he could breathe."
Were you or your son concerned about Covid-19?
"Yes, because he knew the precautions he had to take to avoid catching the disease. When I asked him, he said: "Either Covid can kill me or I can be killed by not preparing for combat. He was not afraid of that. I wasn't afraid of either. And they tested for the virus and it was negative."
How do you live the fights?
"When we are with him, we only see what he needs. We've already seen him in 23 fights. But in these last fights, which have been more difficult, we leave them alone, because he likes to go to practice in his room and return to his room. He likes to be alone. He watches monkeys on TV, while he is resting. After the weigh-in and he can eat, we all go to eat together. He likes crab legs and a big steak. Then on the day of the fight we see him only at lunch, all together, he likes Italian food. Because he likes to eat carbs. Then we don't see him until after the fight."
Where did Justin get the taste for mixed martial arts?
"He started wrestling when he was 4 and we took him to a lot of wrestling tournaments. When he went to college in Colorado, he got a scholarship. When he was there, a lot of UFC fighters came in, wrestling with the ones that were in college and that's where he said 'they look like normal people. If they do, so do I. He asked one of his coaches if he could fight. And they told him that if his grades let him fight in the summer. But they couldn't pay him any money because he was on a scholarship. That's where he started. It was 18 fights without losing and he loved it..."
Carolina Espinoza explained her Mexican roots:
"My mom and dad were born in Naco, Sonora. We went to Naco, and Sonora a lot. When we were growing up when we were little. I had a grandmother who also lived in Naco, Sonora. My mom gave me American citizenship when I was in college. I was already over 20 years old. My mom still speaks Spanish. She doesn't speak any English. She only speaks pure Spanish. That's where we learned about Mexico. Then my mom's sisters live in Mexico City. We didn't go because my mom and dad had nine children. So they couldn't travel to Mexico. When I got married, my sister lived in Tlaxcala."
How much does she talk to Justin about his Mexican roots?
"He loves them. It gives him a lot of courage that I never taught him to speak in Spanish. I'm married to an American who doesn't know Spanish. It gives him the courage that people don't believe him to be Mexican. He doesn't look Mexican, he doesn't have a Mexican name but he wants everyone to know that he is Mexican. He has many cousins who live in Mexico, who know he is their cousin and who see him fight. But they can't communicate because even they can't speak English and he can't speak Spanish."
Has he come to Mexico?
"He wants to fight in Mexico, his dream is to fight in Mexico."
Justin Gaethje, the UFC showman
Justin Gaethje was born on November 14, 1988, in the city of Safford, Arizona, USA. Gaethje started in the world of martial arts by fighting at the age of 4. He became a two-time Arizona State Champion from Safford High School and was an NCAA Division I All-American when he was at the University of Northern Colorado.
After racking up a 7-0 record as an amateur, he made his debut as a professional MMA fighter in 2011. In 2013, he signed up for the World Series of Fighting (WSOF), where he became the lightweight champion and successfully defended the belt five times before moving on to the UFC.
The Highlight came to the MMA's biggest company undefeated with a 17-0 record and in his debut on July 7, 2017, he knocked out the experienced Michael Johnson with a spectacular knee injury. In December, Eddie Alvarez would take Gaethje's undefeated team to victory by knockout. Both of Justin's bouts are considered among the top 10 in UFC 2017.
His return to the octagon was in April 2018 when he fell to Dustin Poirier by knockout in the fourth round. Gaethje wanted to turn the page quickly and he did it in August when he knocked out James Vick, he was going to face Al Iaquinta, in the first round.
In 2018 he fought twice and thus led his fourth consecutive UFC Fight Night. Both were first-round knockout victories, first against Edson Barboza and then against Donald Cowboy Cerrone.
In his UFC career, Justin averages 8.57 significant hits per minute, receives an average of 10.23 hits per minute, and also has a 55% scoring effectiveness. Remember that Gaethje has a fighting record that he has not yet used offensively in the UFC but that serves him to have one of the highest defensive percentages against the company's top knockdown, 80%.