Justin ‘The Highlight’ Gaethje showed the world just how good he can be with a brilliant first-round knockout of Edson Barboza at UFC Fight Night in Philadelphia. Gaethje went toe-to-toe with devastating striker Barboza before eventually putting the Brazilian in airplane mode with a cracker of a right hook to claim a spectacular knockout victory after just two and a half minutes of the opening round.
— Ahmar Khan (@AhmarSKhan) March 31, 2019
And after his stunning win and signature backflip celebration off the top of the cage, a calm and composed Gaethje told the world just how much he loves his job. “I would not recommend this sport to my enemy,” he said. “But I was born and I was bred and I was raised to do this – and I will do it until the wheels fall off.”
Gaethje’s win capped off a great night for us Paddy Power MMA aficionados, with a cracking main card delivering a host of highlight moments, including a winning acca, and even left us a little time to get some sleep before Sunday! The East Coast start time meant we were underway as early as 7:30pm for the first preliminary bout of the night, but after a succession of decision victories, business picked up in a big way when the main card gathered pace.
The main card action kicked off with a well-contested battle of featherweight prospects as Sodiq Yusuff edged a unanimous decision against Sheymon Moraes. Then Scotland’s Paul ‘Bearjew’ Craig showed the world the sort of fighting mindset that separates the top mixed martial artists from other athletes in other sports.
Craig had already shown his never-say-die spirit in his last-second submission win over Magomed Ankalaev last year as he set the record for the latest submission finish in UFC history. And while he wasn’t being dominated like he was in that fight, his bout in Philadelphia against Kennedy Nzechukwu looked to be slipping away from him in the final round before he gamely fought back with his back to the canvas and locked up a dramatic triangle armbar submission to get the finish with just 40 seconds left on the clock.
— ern.s3 (@ErnestSIII) March 31, 2019
Then ‘The Karate Hottie’ Michelle Waterson moved one big step closer to her dream of becoming the first mum to win a UFC world title by defeating former title challenger Karolina Kowalkiewicz on the scorecards after a brilliant performance.
California-based featherweight Josh Emmett looked to have stolen the show with a huge third-round knockout of Michael Johnson, but Norwegian middleweight contender Jack Hermansson made sure he wasn’t overshadowed with a brilliant 49-second submission of former two-division World Series of Fighting champion David Branch in the co-main event.
— Will Martin 🏴 (@WillMartinMMA) March 31, 2019
It meant that Gaethje and Barboza needed to serve up something pretty special to deliver the biggest highlight of the night, and ‘The Highlight’ himself obliged with a huge performance. Gaethje is undoubtedly the most exciting fighter in the world right now, and fans will eagerly await the announcement of his next fight, because they know that whenever Gaethje fights – and whoever he’s up against – Gaethje is guaranteed to bring the fireworks.
THE ACCA LANDS… AGAIN!
Our three-fight accumulator did the business once again on Saturday night, with underdogs Gaethje and Waterson both claiming huge wins. And, thanks to Josh Emmett’s final-round KO, our fight night 7/1 treble cashed in to give us a win of our own on the night.
Bring on the next one!