No need for Justin Gaethje to go to war tonight. "The Highlight" (19-2) delivers early brutality, collapsing James Vick in less than 90 seconds! Snapping a two-fight skid, Gaethje has finished 17 of 19 victories, 16 by knockout. #UFCLincoln pic.twitter.com/5HXkLLEdYc— Tanuki Usman (@Hamderlei) August 26, 2018
After storming onto the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s roster and creating a fervor, Justin Gaethje had suffered back-to-back losses and found himself under intense scrutiny. All of that -- and James Vick’s consciousness -- went out the window in the main event of UFC Fight Night 135 Saturday night as “The Highlight” lived up to his nickname in spectacular fashion.
Referee Kevin MacDonald immediately rushed in to halt the massacre, officially ending the duel in just 87 seconds, electrifying the crowd inside PinnacleBank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska.
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Johnson Takes Split Decision Over Fili
Michael Johnson and Andre Fili aren’t the best of friends and it showed when they clashed in Saturday’s co-main event.
The two featherweights fought tooth and nail in a hotly-contested battle, but it was “The Menace” who had his hand raised. Fili (18-6) landed the flashier strikes in the fight and nearly put Johnson away in the second via rear-naked choke. However, Johnson survived the scare and was awarded a split decision win based on slightly more effective striking.
Though one judge favored “Touchy” 30-27, that card was offset by the two others who saw it 29-28 for Johnson, who improved to 18-13.
Casey-Sanchez Edges Hill
After being on the receiving end of a few disputed split decision losses recently, Cortney Casey-Sanchez (8-6) finally had a bit of good fortune when she ousted Angela Hill over three rounds.
The strawweights landed plenty of punches upstairs, but it seemed like “Overkill” connected with the harder, cleaner strikes. Hill (8-5) also fattened Casey’s thighs with a myriad of low kicks, but “Cast Iron” never stopped coming forward whilst letting her hands go. In the end, Casey won the contest via split decision as two judges favored her 30-27 and 29-28, while the third had it for Hill 29-28.
Barberena Finishes Ellenberger
Welterweight contender Bryan Barberena rained on the local fans’ parade by throttling Omaha hero Jake Ellenberger in the opening round.
A pair of right hands to the head buckled Ellenberger’s knees and when “Bam Bam” chased after him, “The Juggernaut” fell against the cage. Barberena was like a shark in a frenzy and swarmed the veteran, clubbing him with an endless tempest of punches until referee Bryan Miner had no choice but to yank him away from Ellenberger (31-15).
The end came officially at 2:26 of the round, allowing Barberena, from Minnesota, to rise to 14-5.
Figueiredo Tees Off on Moraga
Flyweight contender Deiveson Figueiredo continued to impress on Saturday night by mauling John Moraga on the ground before finishing him on the feet.
“Daico” scored a powerful takedown early in the second and once he was on top, he pounded away at the Phoenix-based fighter with punches and elbows. Moraga was rocked by an elbow to the head but was able to scramble up to his feet, but his safety was never ensured.
Once up, Figueiredo landed another elbow to the head and then slammed a crushing left uppercut to the solar plexus, causing Moraga (19-7) to crumble in a heap. Referee Dave Jobeun immediately waived it off, saving a bloodied Moraga from further punishment. The end officially came at 3:08 of the second, allowing Figueiredo to ascend to 15-0.
Anders Puts Williams Away Late
Former Alabama Crimson Tide football standout Eryk Anders (11-1) struggled mightily to get into a rhythm against massive underdog Tim Williams, but all he needed was one strike.
Late in the third of what was a largely lethargic performance, “Ya Boy” clobbered Williams (15-5) with a perfectly-timed kick to the face as Williams was trying to stand up. The kick was legal and it flattened “The South Jersey Strangler,” officially ending the middleweight contest at 4:42 of the third.
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