A match between lightweight contenders, Justin Gaethje and Rafael Fiziev, served at the UFC 286 co-main event on Saturday at the O2 Arena in London, England.
Fiziev entered the bout ranked No. 6 in the lightweight division and riding a six-fight winning streak. He had earned bonuses in all of his last five fights. Gaethje was ranked No. 3 and coming off a loss in a championship bout against Charles Oliveira. The former interim champion has fought for the championship twice and came up short.
Gaethje delivered a hard leg kick to get things going in the opening round. They exchanged kicks to the body and stood right in front of each other. Fiziev delivered front kicks to the body. Both men were throwing to end the fight. Fiziev pressured Gaethje most of the round. In the closing moments, Gaethje looked to get the fight to the ground, but Fiziev shook off the attempt. Fiziev connected with a knee but Gaethje absorbed it well.
Fiziev inched forward and delivered a kick to the body. Both men continue to throw bombs. Gaethje accidentally poked Fiziev in the eye but the fight was quickly restarted. Once the action resumed Fiziev delivered a kick to the body. Gaethje pressed forward with a combination. He connected with a right hand. Gaethje started landing shots on the inside. Gaethje landed a counter right hand that opened up a cut under Fiziev’s eye. He was cut under both eyes heading into the final round.
Fiziev connected with a huge right hand in the early going of the final round. He landed a left hand that staggered Gaethje. Gaethje fired back with a combination. Gaethje looked for a takedown but Fiziev remained standing. Gaethje’s jab found a home repeatedly. Gaethje connected with a huge right hand,. Fiziev may have slowed. His right eye bloodied and swollen. Gaethje connected with an uppercut that bounced Fiziev’s head back. He landed another uppercut. In the final seconds of the round, Gaethje changed levels and took Fiziev down.
The judges scored the fight 29-28, 29-28, and 28-28 for Gaethje by majority decision.
“The guys are young, hungry and that’s a dangerous motherf**ker,” said Gaethje following the win. “I’m taking one more run at the title, but I ain’t going to be around much longer.”