UFC Vancouver: Gaethje hits a hat trick of first round KO’s, stops Cowboy

On Saturday, Vancouver was the host city for a UFC lightweight title eliminator bout between Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone and Justin ‘The Highlight’ Gaethje. In a contest that was highly touted as a fight of the night contender, both fighters carried exciting styles into the cage with them, that tend to keep fans on the edge of their seat. Within four minutes and 18 seconds of the opening round, it was Gaethje who came out the victor, earning his third consecutive finish by KO/TKO.

Gaethje found himself early on being the one just a little bit quicker to the punch, and carried on with the same rhythm as the round was coming to an end. ‘The Highlight’ showed that quickness again, right on time to close the show, catching an oncoming Cerrone with a sharp right hook which sent his opponent face first onto the mat. A tough ‘Cowboy’ looked to stay in the bout, getting back to his feet while still eating some tasty uppercuts, but it was the end of the night for the Colorado native when he received one more viscous right hook from Gaethje that sent him back down to the canvas. The referee would then step in and call a stop to the bout after Cerrone suffered some extra unnecessary shots to head. A late stoppage would be an understatement, which seemed to bother Gaethje, while Cerrone protested the referee’s decision.

While Justin Gaethje is now on a three fight win streak, this is Donald Cerrone’s first time suffering consecutive losses since his winless year in 2017, when he was on the receiving end of three defeats to top contenders such as Jorge Masvidal, Robbie Lawler, and Darren Till. It should come as no surprise to hear Donald Cerrone’s name being mentioned in another highly ranked contest in the next few months though, as we should all know by now that ‘Cowboy’ isn’t one for shying away from battle despite having competed four times this calendar year already. 

This win now puts Gaethje in a great position amongst the other top challengers in the 155lbs division. By right, three wins against top ten contenders should be enough to be in contention for at least a number one contender slot, but it would be almost criminal to deny Tony Ferguson his opportunity against the kingpin of the lightweight division, Khabib Nurmagomedov. 

Immediately after his impressive performance, Gaethje used his mic time in the octagon to make it clear what his plan is next.

“The Irishman’s retired, I want a real fighter, I want the winner of Tony and Khabib,” Gaethje exclaimed. “I want to fight Khabib before he’s gone, and if Tony wins, nobody’s gonna miss that fight, that will put a million people in a stadium.”

Although dismissing the opportunity of squaring up against Conor McGregor, ESPN’s Ariel Helwani announced post fight that it was in fact Gaethje who was scheduled to be Conor McGregor’s comeback fight this past summer, but all negotiations came to a brief end as the Dubliner broke his hand in sparring. With Poirier just coming off a defeat to Khabib, and the champ probably set to fight Ferguson at some point towards the end of the year or in early 2020, it leaves Gaethje free, and I don’t think it’s out of the question for the UFC to offer Gaethje a lucrative contract to welcome “The Notorious” one back to the octagon at the start of next year.

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