Justin Gaethje successfully defended the World Series of Fighting lightweight title with a stoppage of Luis Palomino at WSOF 19 on Saturday in Phoenix.
Gaethje landed several leg kicks in the evening’s main event, none more significant than the two in the third round that made Palomino collapse to the floor before the technical knockout at 3:57 of the frame.
Gaethje looked to have the edge for the first half of the opening round, keeping his opponent’s back against the fence and finding opportunities to score with strikes. Palomino began to find openings in the second half of the round and the two traded in intense exchanges until time expired.
The two continued to engage in wild exchanges in the second round. Palomino started to find more openings, but Gaethje continued to move forward and meet offense with offense. By the end of the second round, both fighters looked depleted of energy and punches were looping.
In Round 3, Gaethje applied more leg kicks to Palomino’s lead leg. At one point, Palomino fell to the floor, holding his thigh after Gaethje landed leg kick. He soon returned to his feet, but Gaethje landed another leg kick that sent Palomino falling the the floor again. The fight came to an end moments later when Gaethje landed a number of punches and hammer fists.
The win improved Gaethje’s undefeated record to 14-0, the seventh under the WSOF banner.
Thiago Silva came into WSOF 19 as a favorite in the co-main event, especially since his original opponent, Matt Hamill, had to withdraw from the bout due to a stomach virus. But instead of picking up an easy win over late-replacement Teddy Holder, Silva suffered a technical-knockout loss in the first round.
Silva landed a number of early strikes, one of which, a counter-right cross, shook Holder and had the fighter backpedaling from the blow. Holder, however, persevered and landed a right hand in the middle of a flurry, sending Silva falling down to the floor. While there, Holder landed several strikes on the ground before the referee brought a stop to the bout at the 2:00 mark.
With the win, Holder will move on to face the winner of WSOF middleweight champ David Branch and Ronny Marks in the finals of the promotion’s light heavyweight tournament.
Earlier main-card winners included Timur Valiev, who scored a TKO in the first round over Ed West. Clifford Starks locked up Jake Heun in an arm triangle to open up the NBC Sports Network broadcast with a submission finish in the second round.
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