The UFC seems to have struck Gold with the Former WSOF Lightweight Champion Justin Gaethje (18-0), who made his UFC debut last night in the Main Event of The Ultimate Fighter Finale. Gaethje was undefeated going into the contest, facing the proven top contender #5 UFC lightweight Michael Johnson. Many saw the experience of Johnson being a big influence in the fight, and despite Johnsons best efforts to rattle Justin, Gaethje proved to remain within himself throughout the buildup of the fight. The first round of the fight was arguably one of the best rounds of the year, and possibly one of the best rounds in fight history. Justin was rocked early, seemingly caught off guard by the speed of Johnson. He shook it off, smiled, and pressed forward. Exchanging heavy shots with Johnson early, and using powerful leg kicks to help combat the speed and movement of Johnson. In the first round the pair landed a combined total of 93 significant strikes, 50 of them coming from Gaethje. Though Gaethje may have landed more strikes, he certainly proved his ability to take a shot.
The second round proved to be just as thrilling as the first, with the pair exchanging significant strike after strike. Mid way through the round Johnson landed a perfectly timed upper cut that wobbled Justin. Johnson pressed forward but Gaethje’s ability to take a shot and keep moving forward ultimately proved to be too much for the UFC vet. Justin seemed to recognize that Johnson was weakening, and began to pour it on with heavy combos and vicious leg kicks at the end of the exchanges, dropping Johnson several times. Gaethje called Johnson back to their feet immediately and poured on an onslaught of pressure that Johnson could not absorb. A flying knee pressed Johnson against the cage where Gaethje would tee-off eventually ending the fight, and winning his UFC debut in spectacular fashion while earning a double bonus on the night.
In his post-fight interview inside the octagon, Gaethje simply called for whoever is next. A great call out as he now puts himself in an amazing position, in the extremely tough Lightweight division. Even the king of the division saw the fight and commented on the bout via Twitter saying, “That was a good contest. Two fighters, fighting”. In response to recognition from the notorious one Gaethje commented, “real recognize real”. It appears Gaethje may have sparked the interest of one Conor McGregor, and Gaethje seems to be very aware of the position he is in. During the Post Fight Presser Gaethje said, “I’m in his weight class he better be watching, he has a big target on his back and I’m aiming for it, I expected him to watch”. The question for Gaethje now is, who’s next?
In the co-main event TUF redemption Finale Jesse Taylor walked away with the huge 290,000 dollar check, and the satisfaction of true redemption. Winning by submission via RNC in the second round.
Main Card (FS1)
Justin Gaethje def. Michael Johnson Via KO/TKO of Round 2
Jesse Taylor def. Dhiego Lima Via Submission of Round 2
Drakkar Klose def. Marc Diakiese via Unanimous Decision
Jared Cannonier def. Nick Roehrick via KO/TKO of Round 3
Brad Tavares def. Elias Theodorou via Unanimous Decision
Jordan Johnson def. Marcel Fortuna via Unanimous Decision
Angela Hill def. Ashley Yoder via Unanimous Decision
James Krause def. Tom Gallicchio via Unanimous Decision
C.B. Dollaway def. Ed Herman via Unanimous Decision
Tecia Torres def. Juliana Lima via Submission of Round 2
Early Prelims (UFC Fight Pass)
Gray Maynard def. Teruto Ishihara via Unanimous Decision