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What did James Vick see in his face-off with Justin Gaethje? Not much, other than 'a dumbass'

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James Vick is not going to act like he saw a scared Justin Gaethje when the lightweights faced off in the UFC’s 25th anniversary news conference earlier this month.

Quite frankly, Vick (13-1 MMA, 9-1 UFC) says he didn’t see a lot from Gaethje (18-2 MMA, 1-2 UFC) as they stood across each other at The Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles. He did see … something, though.

“I saw a dumbass,” Vick recently told Submission Radio. “I saw a dude who really just – I don’t know. I don’t know what he was thinking. He wasn’t really trying to intimidate me. I wasn’t trying to really intimidate him. We were just looking at each other. But I really just didn’t see much from the guy.”

It’s not like it’s surprising to hear things being put in such terms by the ever-candid Vick, who meets Gaethje in the FS1-televised headliner of UFC Fight Night 135 on Aug. 25 at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Speaking to MMAjunkie Radio last month, for instance, Vick gave him credit as a “warrior,” but also called him a “human punching bag who’s padded his record against B-level competition.”

That was somewhat in line with what Vick presented in their exchanges at the news conference. Vick said he’d send Gaethje back to fighting “tomato cans” in the “B-league” after adding a third loss to his current skid, while Gaethje fired back by saying he’d made more money in post-fight bonuses alone than Vick had made in his career.

You can check out this and the exchanges that followed in the video above to make your own conclusions. But, as far as that round of verbal sparring goes, Vick believes there was a pretty clear winner.

“I kind of felt bad for him after going back and watching the press conference,” Vick said. “He just didn’t have anything in the arsenal. He thought he was going to be slick and come out with the stuff he said. I felt like I did a good job. I didn’t attack him first. I just rebutted back off of what he said. They asked me a question first, and I answered it. Didn’t even mention him. I answered the question, and then he starts popping off when they ask him a question.

“I guess he felt dumb after getting clowned on that first question, so then he comes back at me, tries to ask me another one, and then I clown him again. So, I felt like I killed the dude at the press conference, to be honest with you.”

Asked whether Gaethje took their in-person meeting in Los Angeles as an opportunity to deliver on a previously made promise to “slap the (expletive) out of him,” Vick scoffed with a “yeah, right.” But that, the lightweight points out, is mostly thank to their civility, as there were no lack of opportunities for that to happen.

“The UFC needs to do a better job at this – I mean, they’re lucky we didn’t fight,” Gaethje said. “Because I get to my hotel, the car drops me off, I come up to the front desk, the first guy I see at the front desk is Justin Gaethje. He’s all by himself. I’m all by myself. And I just look right at him and smile, and then he looks at me over his shoulder, then he turns back around.

“He’s handling his business, trying to get checked into his room. Then he gets his bags and he walks by and we just mean-mug each other for a second and keep walking.”

The awkward unintentional interactions, however, didn’t end there. Later on, after the two had their news conference exchange, it got even more awkward as Vick and one of his old coaches headed down to hit pads in the hotel that was hosting that weekend’s UFC 227.

“We get on the elevator and it’s Gaethje and his whole team were there,” Vick said. “His manager, Ali (Abdelaziz), all of them. I just walked right in with them. Then he just made a comment, ‘Yeah, I don’t fight for free,’ and I was like, ‘I don’t either, so we’re good.’”

In fact, Vick points out, he’s actually “pretty cool” with Gaethje’s manager. And, despite the jabs thrown even before they were scheduled to fight, Vick says that, at least on his end, this beef is strictly about their unfinished octagon business.

“I do believe everything I said about him is true, in my opinion,” Vick said. “But I don’t have anything personal against Justin Gaethje. He’s just in my way to becoming a world champion.

“I’m going to change my life with this fight. This is the biggest opportunity I’ve had and I’m going to shine. I’m doing everything right that I need to do to get to where I need to get to, and he’s just in the way.”

For more on UFC Fight Night 135, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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