Gaethje Finishes Johnson In Instant Classic

LAS VEGAS — Those who never saw Justin Gaethje perform in World Series of Fighting might have thought all the talk of his highlight-reel finishes and violent battles were hyperbole.

In reality, perhaps we all undersold Gaethje heading into his UFC debut.

Gaethje finished Michael Johnson by TKO at 4:48 of the second round in the main event of The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale on Friday night in Las Vegas in one of the most incredible nights for a UFC debutante ever. It’ll almost certainly be a top contender for Fight of the Year — if not the clear winner.

Johnson rocked Gaethje and had him nearly finished in the first. He then wobbled Gaethje again in the second.

But the thing about Gaethje is when he’s in trouble, he actually fires back even harder. Eventually, Johnson stopped being able to take the pressure. A right hand put Johnson on jelly legs and then Gaethje threw the kitchen sink at him — leg kicks, uppercuts, flying knees.

It was over soon after and the fans at T-Mobile Arena were on their feet chanting “Gaethje!”

Gaethje capped the performance by climbing on the cage, slipping and falling, but then climbing up again and hitting a back flip to the Octagon canvas. That was a modicum of the night — he didn’t give up and kept marching ahead.

“Who’s next?!” Gaethje screamed afterward. … “Where is my equal?! Where is he?!”

Gaethje (18-0), the former WSOF lightweight champ, might not have just earned himself a top lightweight contender in the UFC, he might have just made himself into one of the most popular fighters in the sport. That kind of performance — that kind of heart — can change careers and make fighters boatloads of money. Gaethje, 28, showed off an iron chin and an even stronger will — and UFC fans are going to adore him for that moving forward.

Johnson (17-12) has lost two in a row now, but is certainly considered one of the top 10 or 15 best lightweights in the world. Gaethje’s victory was no small feat, in how he won and who he beat.

Original Story: MMA Fighting

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