An action-packed night in Salt Lake City was capped in style as third-ranked UFC lightweight Justin Gaethje mirrored the heroics of Leon Edwards from the promotion’s last trip to the Beehive State with a flush high-kick knockout, superbly masked by an initial cross.
Predominantly known to aim his kicks low, the Highlight did just that throughout the opening round, attacking the inner calf of fellow former interim champion Dustin Poirier, as well as a host of well-timed flurries targeting both the head and body of the Diamond, summed up aptly by his coach Trevor Wittman as ‘controlled chaos’. It wasn’t all plain sailing early for Gaethje, as Poirier also found success, landing an array of thudding body kicks from his rear left leg, as well as opening up a cut around the newly-minted BMF champion’s right eye. Five minutes that perfectly encapsulated the pre-fight anticipation. A close, compelling and enthralling bout, from the sounding of the opening bell until the shin-to-chin connection that closed the show.
Gaethje’s evolution as a mixed martial artist was a key factor in his victory at UFC 291, as the reckless, scattergun former WSOF Lightweight Champion that entered the UFC has been replaced with a far more calculated, intelligent and well-rounded fighter. A display of true professionalism and maturity was what was required for him to avenge his loss to Lafayette’s own, and he delivered. Despite his technical improvements and enhanced efficiency, there is still no fighter on the roster who embodies ‘BMF’ quite like Justin Gaethje. Adding a second belt to his UFC resume, coupled with his similarly impressive victory over Rafael Fiziev earlier this year, the Arizona native can look ahead to what is almost certainly a third opportunity to claim undisputed gold with confidence and assurance in his own skillset and mindset. And if this stacked card at the Delta Centre has taught us anything, it’s that a composed Justin Gaethje is a problem for everybody at 155 pounds.
Photo: Bleacher Report