Justin Gaethje seems content to wait for his shot at the lightweight title after another thrilling first round knockout win.
The Highlight stopped Donald Cerrone after 4:18 of their UFC Fight Night 158 bout in Vancouver on Sunday morning – extending his winning streak to three, with sights now set on the top of the lightweight division.
Post-fight he immediately called for the winner of champion Khabib Nurmagomedov versus Tony Ferguson, whenever that may be – dismissing talk of a potential bout with Conor McGregor.
Light-heavyweight Glover Teixeira picked up a win over the fancied Nikita Krylov. The Brazilian outsmarted his younger opponent, landing the cleaner shots with the neater work on the ground. The Russian always looked dangerous but was sloppy at times, slipping to a unanimous decision loss.
Elsewhere, Todd Duffee’s four and a half year hiatus ended in disappointing fashion when his bout with Jeff Hughes was ruled a no contest. Duffee had been the aggressor but suffered a first-round eye poke rending him unable to continue.
Here’s the key takeaways from the night
Gaethje willing to wait?
With three consecutive first-round knockout wins under his belt, Justin Gaethje is blazing an entertaining trail through the lightweight division.
Sadly for him, there has been an illustrious queue forming behind champion Khabib Nurmagomedov including the recently vanquished Dustin Poirier, and the man universally considered to be next in line, Tony Ferguson.
With no date on set on Khabib v Ferguson it would have been perfectly understandable for Gaethje to hunt another scalp after picking up his biggest UFC win to date against Donald Cerrone in Vancouver.
Having lost his first two fights in the UFC, it was wondered if the hype behind the standout wrestler but three first round knock-outs have more than turned the tide.
Should he be serious in wanting to wait for Khabib or Ferguson that would likely mean 12 months without a fight – comfortably the longest break of his professional career.
Even waiting wouldn’t guarantee the fight either, so it would be a risky strategy.
A tune up against Dustin Poirier and the chance to avenge a UFC loss would make much more sense at the moment.
McGregor more irrelevant
In the lead up, it was not necessarily if Gaethje would call out Conor McGregor but how.
The American has been one of the most vociferous critics of The Notorious and the thought of the two standing in front of each other and trading is a mouth-watering one.
Even Daniel Cormier, the in-cage interviewer for the event, was expecting it, even leading Gaethje asking if it would be a certain Irishman who was up next.
Gaethje rebuttal spoke volumes. In calling McGregor retired, he becomes the latest in a long list of people writing off the man who somehow climbed two places in the pound for pound rankings this week following a year of inactivity on the back of a loss.
Khabib and Ferguson have both brushed off the thought of McGregor, and he is now running out of named fights should he want to return – especially with Nate Diaz now wrapped up with Jorge Masvidal.
Poirier expressed an interest in midweek, and despite the former two-weight champ’s apparent disinterest, it could be one of his only options.
Eye pokes and somersaults
For a card that didn’t have too many people excited past the top couple of fights, there were plenty of talking points to come out of FN 158.
Glover Teixeira has now won three on the spin to prove there is still plenty of life in a relatively old dog.
You have to feel for Todd Duffee, who looked in great shape coming into his clash with Jeff Hughes only for things to end in disappointment with an eye poke resulting in a no contest. He deserved more after more than four years out of the Octagon.
Elsewhere flips in the cage may make Instagram posts, but they were not enough to get the win for Michel Pereira against debutant Tristan Connelly.
And Uriah Hall will be breathing a big sigh of relief after a split decision win over Antonio Carlos Jnr. Maybe now he will start to fulfil all the promise he had on The Ultimate Fighter.
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