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Yianni Diakomihalis Is Following Justin Gaethje's Lead | UFC Fight Pass

Cornell Wrestler Yianni Diakomihalis Draws Inspiration From Justin Gaethje As He Ventures Into The MMA Space.

Cornell wrestler Yianni Diakomihalis knows a thing or two about pressing the action, so much so that if he doesn’t bring the action enough, he puts himself on the wrong end of a post-match interview roast, so why would his MMA allegiance be any different?

Three-time NCAA National Champion Yianni Diakomihalis may not be interested in getting punched in the face or kicked in the stomach, so an MMA run is improbable. And he may be a wrestler at mind, body and heart, but the common man can find themselves a lot more in line with the 23-year-old than they thought.

Cornell student or not, Diakomihalis isn’t watching MMA to break down the perfect double leg technique or critique the chain wrestling of known grapplers. He watches the same way most college students watch; packed in a living room like sardines willing blood and guts wars into existence.

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“As a fan I enjoy two guys going out there and just swinging for the fences,” Diakomihalis laughed.

One man in particular seems to bond the wrestling community and the MMA community stronger than any other. It’s a man with Robbie Lawler’s taste for action-packed fights and Roman Bravo-Young’s takedown defense: Justin “The Highlight” Gaethje.

“I have an understanding of what he’s been through and what kind of training he went through when he was wrestling,” Diakomihalis said. “His fight style is inspiring. It’s not pretty, it’s not flashy; he just gets in there and you can tell he just loves to fight. At his core he’s just a dude who loves to fight and I have a ton of respect for that.”

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Much is made of Gaethje’s All-American status when he was wrestling at the University of Northern Colorado, and although Diakomihalis wasn’t watching Gaethje on the mat in real time, a few YouTube searches showed him that “The Highlight’s” knack for action didn’t start in the cage. He was a fighter’s fighter before he was even fighting.

“I heard about how he wrestled in college and I went back and looked at what he had done when he was in school,” Diakomihalis said. “I think what impressed me the most from him is that you can even see it in his wrestling. He just wants to get in there and mix it up all the time. It’s tough to do that every week when you’re in college and it’s tough to do that when you’re fighting another guy who’s trying to kill you. Any guy who’s like that and doesn’t shy away from battle, I have a ton of respect for.”

Diakomihalis might be one of the quickest to mention his Gaethje fandom, but he’s far from the only one in his crew.

There is likely to be anywhere from 10-25 wrestlers from Cornell congregating for Gaethje’s fight at UFC 274, and even if he doesn’t top the charts with the whole crew, he’s sure to medal.

“We all like Gaethje, but some guys will be like, ‘he’s my favorite’ and some guys will be like, ‘oh he’s fine,’” Diakomihalis explains. “It kind of depends. We all like him. Everybody has a baseline level of respect for him. His fight style is just inspiring to watch. He’s not trying to win on the scorecards, he’s not trying to weasel it out, he’s going out there and he’s trying to kill the other guy.”

Justin Gaethje: 'It's Been A Lifelong Mission' | UFC 274
Justin Gaethje: 'It's Been A Lifelong Mission' | UFC 274

He’s been one of the most exciting and popular fighters since his UFC debut in 2017, so it may come as no surprise that around 7 pm in Ithaca, NY, the texts between one of the most dominant wrestlers in the game and his buddies will begin to be sent.

A few minutes later a living room will be jam-packed with people counting down the seconds until Justin Gaethje fights for the lightweight title. Win, lose or draw, it’s guaranteed to be exactly what they hoped to see.

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UFC 274: Oliveira vs Gaethje took place on Saturday, May 7, 2022live from a sold out Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona. See the Final ResultsOfficial Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses — and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!