Gaethje KO's Barboza after first-round slugfest
- Jan-Jaap Abbink
One of the most anticipated fights of 2019 lived up to the hype, as Justin Gaethje knocked out Edson Barboza in the first round of their main event bout at UFC Fight Night in Philadelphia on Saturday.
Gaethje (20-2), with Barboza up against the fence, landed a hard right hook that immediately sent his opponent to the mat. Referee Keith Peterson immediately jumped in to signal the bout was over at 2 minutes, 30 seconds.
The win was Gaethje's second in a row following a first-round KO of James Vick last August. Barboza (20-8) lost his third fight in his past four matchups.
"This is the toughest sport on Earth," Gaethje said. "I just love it. It's one at a time for me. On to the next one. There are five or six guys in front of me I want.
"I wouldn't recommend this sport to my worst enemy. I was raised to do this. I will do this 'til the wheels fall off."
Gaethje and Barboza, two of the most prolific leg kickers in the sport, began the bout doing just that. Both fighters started the fight attacking the lead leg of the other fighter with heavy strikes.
One minute into the bout, Gaethje landed a right hand that wobbled Barboza, but he recovered. The two then started swinging for the fences, before Gaethje connected with the knockout blow.
Gaethje cemented his legacy as one of MMA's most exciting fighters. It was his eighth first-round finish and his 17th career knockout. Gaethje, with five UFC fights under his belt, lands the most strikes per minute (8.5) in promotion history.