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Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 14:03 PM

UFC Notebook - Vick-Gaethje

Vick-Gaethje is new UFC Lincoln headliner

The moment James Vick has been waiting for has belatedly arrived. Finally!

Vick (13-1 MMA) owns a 9-1 record in 10 Octagon appearances, including five finishes and four consecutive victories. Nevertheless, he’s never been on the main card of a pay-per-view event or been given a main or co-main event slot on a card of any sort.

Why? Great question.

Even though he’s 6’3” and competes in the lightweight division, ‘The Texecutioner’ has never missed weight. After getting his hand raised the last several times, he’s given excellent post-fight interviews in the Octagon, calling out Top-10 fighters for constantly turning down fights against him.

Jason Floyd of the MMA Report and told, “Part of the reason it’s taken so long for Vick to get a spotlight fight like this is the way he lost to Beniel Dariush (by first-round KO). He’s had to work his way back up and has done so in his last four fights.”

Vick has pleaded to the promotion to give him a little more push, but not while being a complete chafe about it. In other words, he hasn’t been disrespectful to UFC President Dana White, certainly not to the extent that others have in the past.

Speaking of The Boss Man, he doesn’t take too kindly to call outs. And perhaps that’s why Vick is replacing ‘Ragin’ Al Iaquinta to face Justin Gaethje in the UFC Lincoln headliner on Aug. 25.

Iaquinta, who has feuded with White and the UFC for several years, recently was critical of White for changing the weigh-ins back to the (late) afternoon rather than in the morning. The morning weigh-ins have given fighters more time to replenish their bodies and, according to many of them, allowed them to perform at a higher level.

Iaquinta accused White of making this decision on his own despite claims from the UFC President that most fighters are in favor of the move back to the afternoon. Iaquinta said that former owner Lorenzo Fertitta “kept [White] in check,” and there’s nobody to do that anymore under the new ownership group.

Iaquinta, who was booked to take on Gaethje in the UFC Fight Night 135 headliner, mysteriously pulled out of the bout earlier this week. The Long Island native hasn’t disclosed his reasoning for withdrawing.

With Iaquinta out, Vick was chosen to take on ‘The Highlight.’ Gaethje signed with the UFC after winning his first 17 career fights and successfully defending his World Series of Fighting lightweight title five times.

In his Octagon debut, the former wrestler at the University of Northern Colorado took on Michael Johnson. The back-and-forth affair ended with Gaethje winning by KO late in the second round in what was named the 2017 Fight of the Year. Since then, Gaethje has lost back-to-back slugfests by KO to Eddie Alvarez (R3) and Dustin Poirier (R4). Both bloodbaths garnered Fight of the Night honors and the scrap with Poirier is the early favorite for 2018 Fight of the Year (just ahead of Robert Whittaker’s split-decision triumph over Yoel Romero at UFC 225).

Vick, who is currently ranked 10th in the 155-pound loop, was scheduled to face 14th-ranked Paul Felder at UFC Boise. When Vick was pulled off that card and slotted vs. Gaethje, Felder was screwed out of a fight for the second time this year. The Philadelphia native was scheduled to fight Iaquinta at UFC 223 before Conor McGregor’s actions messed up the entire card and led to Iaquinta facing Khabib Nurmagomedov in the main event.

Vick and Gaethje haven’t wasted time getting the smack talk going on social media. In fact, Vick’s response to a tweet from Ariel Helwani might’ve been the catalyst leading to this matchup.

When Helwani tweeted that Kevin Lee turned down the chance to meet Gaethje (because he wanted an entire training camp for his next bout), Vick replied, “That punching bag don’t want these problems!!”

Next thing you know, Vick vs. Gaethje was a done deal. Check out this back and forth on Twitter below.

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