James Vick has flown under the radar. At 9-1, it wasn’t until this year that Vick entered the UFC rankings, which is in stark contrast to his opponent Justin Gaethje, who was ranked in the top-10 after his promotional debut win over Michael Johnson and remains top-10 despite losing two in a row since.
Vick hopes to move up said rankings with a win over Gaethje when they headline UFC Fight Night in Lincoln, Nebraska on August 25.
"I feel like winning a UFC main event is a big deal in people's eyes and I really feel like this is going to change my career and hopefully after this, I start getting so many more opportunities publicity-wise from the UFC, maybe more of a promotional push and flown to more events and more appearances," Vick told The TSN MMA Show.
Vick seems to have won his first test against Gaethje, a battle of wits at the UFC’s 25th Anniversary press conference, which Vick admits he had prepared for in advance.
"Yeah, a little bit, I'm not going to lie,” Vick laughed when asked if he had worked on some lines to throw at his opponent. “I've always been a pretty decent trash talker, but I can't even lie, he's an easy target in my mind. Everything that I said, in my opinion, is the truth and I just feel like he's an easy target, so it's not like I was trying to make fun of somebody who didn't have some material to go at."
Despite the bad blood at the press conference, Vick admits that this fight is not as personal as some are making it out to be, but understands that trash talk makes the matchup more sellable.
"Honestly, I don't really have a problem with Justin Gaethje, I just think the dude's been overrated, I don't think he's a world class fighter. I think he's a good fighter and I think he has world class heart and he's a very tough guy, he's a dog, he's a warrior, but he's not a top-10 fighter in the UFC,” said Vick. “I just had to say what I had to say to get the fight, I don't really personally have a problem with Justin Gaethje at all, but I had to do what I had to do to get the fight, so I'm glad I opened up and said something because if I would have said something a year ago when I was cageside and saw him fight, then I wouldn't be getting the fight now. Closed mouths don't get fed."
With the incredible pace and output that Gaethje presents, he is one of the most difficult fighters to face because you know that you are in for a long night. Gaethje has made a name off of his willingness to push forward and take strikes to land strikes. In his three UFC fights, he has landed 341 strikes and absorbed 420 over the course of roughly eight rounds.
"With his style, unless I catch him clean in the first couple of minutes, it's going to be a tough fight and I'm fully aware that I may have to bite down on my mouthpiece, take some leg kicks and I may be limping after the fight, but I just know that I have more heart than he does,” said Vick. “I don't have to fight like he does, but if he thinks that coming in the fourth or fifth round that I can't bite down on my mouthpiece and fight the same way that he does, I can"
Vick admits that the potential rewards that he can reap from a win are aplenty, especially with the next major event taking place in Dallas, which is near where Vick grew up.
"If I can't be on the (UFC 228) card, that's the next best option is to be there at the venue, getting paid, getting my name out there more, getting publicity, just getting a promotional push that I feel like I've earned already and I'm definitely going to earn after this one,” said Vick. “I'll be 10-1 in the UFC and there's not many guys in the organization that have a record like that."
James Vick headlines UFC Fight Night in Lincoln Nebraska on Saturday, August 25 against Justin Gaethje. The main card airs at 10:00 pm ET on TSN5.