Justin Gaethje’s UFC debut lived up to the hype as the former World Series of Fighting champion went head to head with lightweight contender Michael Johnson in a blood and guts battle that saw him earn a TKO victory in the dying seconds of the second round.
The first round was a back and forth slobberknocker with Gaethje stalking Johnson and dragging him into a brawl of a fight. Several times Gaethje hit Johnson with big shots, wobbling him and leaving him grimacing. But at the end of the first Johnson fired back with a big uppercut of his own that had Gaethje reeling. It was a miracle that the fight wasn’t ended as Johnson unleashed with everything but the kitchen sink as time expired.
The second round saw Johnson stagger Gaethje again, but Gaethje was able to recover once again and finished the round off with blistering uppercuts that had Johnson stumbling against the cage. At one point Johnson collapsed to the canvas and Gaethje had the ref stand him back up so he could keep unloading on him. Gaethje finished things against the cage with knees and the referee finally, mercifully stopped the fight.
While Gaethje took a troubling amount of head trauma to get the win, it was still an impressive performance and we’ll be looking forward to his next fight in the Octagon.