In the co-main event of UFC 286 we saw a big time matchup in the lightweight division. Former interim lightweight champion Justin Gaethje (23-4) returned to action as he took on surging top contender Rafael Fiziev (12-1).
Since the start of 2018, Justin Gaethje has gone 5-3 inside the octagon. The three losses came against Dustin Poirier, Khabib Nurmagomedov, and Charles Oliveira. Meanwhile he’s had wins against Michael Chandler and Tony Ferguson.
He’s been at the very top of the division for a long time and he was trying to protect his spot from Fiziev. Rafael Fiziev was undefeated when he entered the UFC but was finished in his debut. That said, he hasn’t lost since his debut racking up six consecutive wins. His last win was a knockout of former lightweight champ Rafael Dos Anjos.
UFC 286 Recap
The UFC 286 co-headliner kicked off with a touch of the gloves. Fiziev opens the striking with a body kick. Huge low kick from Gaethje gets his striking going. Both men just feeling things out in the opening minute. Body kick now from Gaethje.
Fiziev ups the pressure a bit and throws a body kick. Quick left hook for Gaethje just lands and Fiziev counters with a big combination. Low kick from Gaethje and Fiziev lands another combo. Big counter now from Gaethje. They clinch and Fiziev lands a beautiful knee.
Halfway through the round and Fiziev pushes forward. Big left hook now from Gaethje. Fiziev rips to the body and throws a body kick. The speed of Fiziev is a problem for Gaethje right now. Combination from Gaethje lands and Fiziev counters.
One minute left and a body kick lands from Fiziev. Takedown attempt from Gaethje and he chains it into a right hand. Low kick now from Gaethje. Lots of pressure from Fiziev and he lands a flying knee. Heavy hooks from Gaethje as the bell rings. Very close first round but likely a round for Fiziev.
Entering the second at UFC 286 and the first round was as advertised. They touch gloves and here we go. Fiziev holding the center and Gaethje looks for a leg kick. Lead left from Fiziev and a huge body kick lands. Another body kick from Fiziev. Blitz from Gaethje but nothing lands.
Another flying knee lands for Fiziev. They clinch and Fiziev lands a knee. Spinning backfist attempt from Fiziev. Accidental eye poke pauses the action briefly but we resume. Lead elbow now from Fiziev. Head kick from Gaethje lands. Low kick now from Fiziev.
Body kick now from Fiziev and Gaethje whiffs on a hook. Huge combination from Gaethje backs up Fiziev. Those shots landed clean. Gaethje lands a big right over the top. Knee from Fiziev and Gaethje lands a big counter combination. Body kick from Fiziev and another huge right from Gaethje.
Lead right from Gaethje and the pace slows. Counter left now from Gaethje as Fiziev moves forward. Fiziev lands a nice combination to the body. Low kick from Fiziev and a low kick from Gaethje. Fiziev’s leg might be hurt. The round ends and Gaethje likely took that one.
Here we go in the third final round and I think whoever wins this one, wins the fight. Huge combination from Fiziev might’ve rocked Gaethje. Gaethje rocked again by another big shot from Fiziev. Gaethje is hanging in there but man he ate those big shots.
Fiziev overextends and Gaethje lands a nice left counter. Body kick from Fiziev. They clinch and Fiziev goes to work with knees to the body. Lead uppercut now from Gaethje. Gaethje goes for a takedown and nearly gets it but Fiziev defends well.
Almost halfway through the final round and Fiziev is leading the dance but Gaethje is upping the pace. Three straight jabs now from Gaethje. Right hand now from Gaethje and Fiziev is slowing down a bit. Another big jab from Gaethje. Combination from Gaethje.
Big right over the top from Gaethje. Two minutes left in this one. Uppercut now from Gaethje. Stiff jab from Gaethje now. Combination from Fiziev now and they both exchange shots in the center. Huge uppercut in close from Gaethje. Now Gaethje lands another massive combination.
Fiziev lands and Gaethje lands two more jabs. Big combination from Gaethje and Fiziev counters. Huge uppercut from Gaethje hurts Fiziev. Thirty seconds left and Gaethje has taken over. Another big combination from Gaethje and he lands a takedown at the final bell. Should be Justin Gaethje’s fight at UFC 286.
Justin Gaethje def. Rafael Fiziev by Majority Decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-28)