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With parents at UFC 254, Justin Gaethje will secure mom’s retirement when bell rings

ABU DHABI – Things are about to come full circle for the Gaethje family.

When he fights lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 254, Justin Gaethje will secure his mother’s retirement. This comes after his parents’ years of sacrifice, hard work and putting their children before themselves.

Both of Gaethje’s parents will be in attendance Saturday at Flash Forum after flying internationally – and business class – for the first time. Gaethje’s father recently retired after 37 years as a copper miner.

As soon as the opening bell rings, Gaethje (22-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) will be guaranteed a paycheck – and in turn, his mother will be afforded the comfort of retirement.

“If this fight starts, if that bell rings at the beginning, then I will secure that she will retire after this fight,” Gaethje said. “She’s been there for 35 years.”

Reflecting on his journey to UFC title contention, Gaethje is indebted to his parents’ financial support and selflessness. Gaethje attributes much of his success to the foundation they laid for him and his siblings.

“Every piece of money they had went into me and my brother and my sister, giving me the opportunities,” Gaethje said. “We were two hours from any city. Going school-clothes shopping was a vacation for us. We’d get up and go to wrestling tournaments. We had to drive two to three hours. Sometimes, we’d have to stay the night. They financially took hits every single time we did that. Nothing is better than being able to repay that.”

While their presence is sentimental in nature, Gaethje won’t be thinking about his parents when the cage door closes. The only outside voice he’ll hear is his coach, Trevor Wittman, as he tries to do something 28 other fighters have failed at: handing Nurmagomedov (28-0 MMA, 12-0 UFC) his first loss.

“For them to be here, when I step in that octagon, nothing matters,” Gaethje said. “They’re not there. My coach, Trevor Wittman, is there. That’s the only voice that I can hear. That’s all that matters to me, but I’m very happy that they get to experience this.”

UFC 254 takes place Saturday at Flash Forum. The main card streams on pay-per-view after prelims on ESPN 2/ESPN+.

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