UFC 286 results, highlights: Justin Gaethje outlasts Rafael Fiziev for decision in grueling battle

Justin Gaethje continues his path of war in pursuit of the UFC Lightweight Championship before he calls it a career. Gaethje proved he still has what it takes at the highest level by living up to his reputation as the sport’s toughest fighter in a three-round war with Rafael Fiziev at UFC 286 on Saturday night.

The two fighters sounded like a drumbeat. Each crushing blow produced an audible pop or thud. This was a testament not only to their strength, but also to the resilience of each person. Gati almost knocked Fiziev down with the first blow. Fiziev clicked combinations like lightning. For 15 minutes they aimed at every part of the body, but not a single man flinched.

The competitive spirit between Getzhi and Fiziev was alive and well. Fiziev repeatedly rambled on in between his blitzes, while Gaethje kept his sense of humor despite the grueling pace.

For a moment it seemed that the end of the 3rd round was close to an end. Fiziev repeatedly froze Gaethje with punches that would knock out most welterweights, let alone the lightweight division. However, Gaethje – as he has done so many times – persevered and stepped up the pressure. By the time the battle ended, Fiziev had cuts and scars all over his face. The uppercut in the last 30 seconds was by far Gaethje’s most significant punch. Round 1 probably belonged to Fiziev, round 2 was the draw, and round 3 was by far Gaethje’s most decisive round, despite the early panic. The judges favored Gaethje as he took home cards 29-28 and 29-28, with the third judge calling it a 28-28 draw.

“I’m making another shot at the title, but I won’t be around anymore,” Gaethje told UFC commentator Daniel Cormier in a post-match interview at the O2 Arena in London, England. “So I’m so glad you guys were able to be here to enjoy it with me. Thanks guys”.

The fight was so typical of Gaethje that the most shocking news from the fight was the takedown he did in the last seconds of the fight. Gaethje, an experienced student wrestler, landed the first takedown of his 11-fight UFC career at Fiziev.

Gaethje’s overall record has improved to 24-4, and his only losses in the last five years have come against Khabib Nurmagomedov and Charles Oliveira in fights for the world title. Fiziev fell to 12-2 and snapped a six win streak.

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