The one thing Justin Gaethje said he didn’t want to do — get into a knockdown, drag-out brawl with Rafael Fizziev on Saturday at UFC 286 in London — he did.
Don’t pretend you’re surprised, though.
That’s how Gaethje fights, and it’s what made him not only one of their most consistent lightweight contenders, but one of the most popular fighters in their history.
He won a majority decision over Fiziv in another wild slugfest on Saturday at the O2 Arena in London, England, taking the score twice 29-28 and 28-28. Yahoo Sports had it 29–28 for Gaethje.
Gaethje wanted to fight in a controlled manner and not go head-to-head with Fiji, who is one of the best kickboxers in the UFC and he certainly showed that on Saturday.
But Gaethje avoided the onslaught by popping his jab early in the third, allowing him to control the distance and rally to win in the second half of the third.
“I tried really hard not to,” Gaethje said of the wild fight, which he just won.
However, he knew it was inevitable because of the styles of both men. Fizziev entered the bout ranked No. 6 at lightweight and had been calling out Gaethje for some time. Ranked No. 3 and having lost two of his last three bouts, Gaethje felt the time was right to take it.
Gaethje said, “I knew this fight was not going to be exciting.”
Gaethje had trouble with Fizziev’s pace in the first, as Fizziev landed a lot of kicks to the body and clearly won the round. But Gaethje tightened it up in the second and pulled it out in the third, even though his only takedown came in the last 10 seconds and was insignificant in terms of scoring.
Gaethje informed that he would not be fighting for much longer so he was hoping for another title shot.
Gaethje said of Fizziev, “a dangerous mother f***er over there.” Then, he turned to the roaring O2 crowd and said, “I want to have one more run at the title. I’m not going to be around much longer, so I’m so glad you guys enjoyed it.”
The crowd cheered, which was no surprise. This is what happens in every Justin Gaethje fight.