UFC Fight Night 158 results, highlights: Justin Gaethje violently stops Donald Cerrone in first round
For the third fight in a row, Justin Gaethje took out an opponent in the first round. This time, the victim of Gaethjes's violence was fellow banger Donald Cerrone in the main event of UFC Fight Night 158 from Rogers Arena in Vancouver.
Anticipation was high for the clash of top five lightweights as fans were guaranteed an action fight between two men who do their talking in the Octagon and routinely pull down fight bonuses for their electric performances.
Gaethje set the tone early with leg kicks, forcing Cerrone to accelerate the task of figuring out his timing and range. But it was a crushing right hand over the guard of Cerrone that set the fight's ending into motion.
Gaethje's right cracked Cerrone to the jaw, causing him to slump forward to the canvas. When the referee didn't step in to end the fight, Gaethje followed up with more heavy shots. Cerrone did manage to get back to his feet, only to eat a series of uppercuts before another Gaethje overhand again dropped "Cowboy" to the canvas.
A few punches later and the fight was over and No. 5 ranked Gaethje had scored the biggest win of his career, knocking out the No. 4 ranked lightweight in the UFC rankings.
The two men embraced after the fight was over as Gaethje said it was difficult to fight against someone he considers a friend. Cerrone, with his arm around Gaethje, told him not worry about it and that he is just blessed to have the best job in the world.
When asked after the fight if he was targeting an Irishman (Conor McGregor) or a Russian (lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov) in his next fight.
"The Irishman is retired," Gaethje said. "I want a real fighter. I want the winner of Tony (Ferguson) and Khabib."
The fight, as expected, earned Gaethje his seventh Performance of the Night bonus in six UFC appearances. Misha Cirkunov, who scored a rare Peruvian necktie submission, also scored $50,000 for his performance and Tristan Connelly and Michel Pereira earned Fight of the Night, but Connelly receives the full $100,000 after Pereira missed weight on Friday.