Justin Gaethje knew his back was against the wall heading into his UFC Lincoln headliner with James Vick. He’d suffered back-to-back losses to Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier, respectively. Gaethje needed a victory in the worst way to prove his dominant run as World Series of Fighting lightweight champion wasn’t a fluke.
The 29-year-old delivered just that with a devastating knockout of Vick at 1:27 of the first round.
“This game is unforgiving,” Gaethje said in his postfight interview. “That could easily have been me right now and it’s what we do. I am the least fake person in this sport, I take everything personal, I take everything he said personal and I’m glad I put him to sleep.”
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Vick came out looking to establish distance by continuously throwing front kicks. That didn’t concern Gaethje in the slightest bit as he tapped Vick with a left hook and connected on a massive right hand to send Vick crumbling to the canvas.
HE SLEPT HIM!!!@Justin_Gaethje STARCHES Vick in round 1!! Wow!! #UFCLincoln pic.twitter.com/FudYRfOKZM
— UFC (@ufc) August 26, 2018
Gaethje followed up with one left hand and the referee jumped right in and put a stop to the action. “The Highlight” immediately went to the top of the Octagon and did his customary backflip. When Gaethje went to check on his fallen foe, Vick tried to take Gaethje down.
The rest of the main card featured Eryk Anders defeating Tim Williams via third-round knockout; Deiveson Figueiredo defeating John Moraga by first-round KO; Bryan Barberena sending Jake Ellenberger into retirement by first-round knockout; Courtney Casey beating Angela Hill by split decision; and Michael Johnson defeating Andre Fili via split decision.
Gaethje (19-2) is now 2-2 in the UFC and right back into title contention. With the loss, Vick (13-2) had his four-fight winning streak snapped.