Gaethje scores third straight first-round knockout

Justin “The Highlight” Gaethje knocks out Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in the first round.

Systematically chops down Cerrone and finishes with a big right

By Jon Johnson

VANCOUVER, CANADA – In front of a hostile crowd chanting his opponent’s name, Safford’s pride and joy, Justin “The Highlight” Gaethje (21-2,18 by KO, ranked No.5) scored a TKO against Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone (36-13, ranked No. 4) at 4:18 of the first round at UFC Fight Night 158. The fight took place at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. 

Gaethje came out with his signature right leg kicks and appeared to wobble Cerrone, who didn’t have an answer for the kicks or the barrage of strikes from Gaethje, who scored overhand rights, left hooks, and a variety of combinations. 

Toward the end of the first round, Gaethje caught Cerrone with a right square on the jaw that dropped the cowboy to the mat. Cerrone attempted to recover, but when he got to his feet Gaethje landed a right uppercut to Cerrone’s chin that felled him back down to his knees with his head down low and his arms on the canvass. Gaethje struck Cerrone a couple of more times with Cerrone not attempting to defend himself and then looked at the referee, wondering why he hadn’t stopped the fight. Gaethje then stuck Cerrone a couple of more times before the fight was finally called. Gaethje immediately chastised the referee for his slow stoppage.   

“The ref, in the back, he said if you fall to your face it’s over you know and I felt like he fell like that two times and then I had to continue to hit him,” Gaethje said. “You know, it’s not his fault. He’s here to do his job. But that was my friend and I didn’t want to keep punching him to be honest with you.” 

Justin Gaethje looks to the referee to stop the fight before pummeling Donald Cerrone with more shots to the head and face.

Afterward, Cerrone was magnanimous in defeat.

“It sucks to get your (expletive deleted) whipped that fast,” Cerrone said.

“Hey man, what a stud.  What a young, cool kid. My hat’s off to you Gaethje. He did everything right.”

Justin Gaethje greets his family after his first-round knockout.

Gaethje earned a performance bonus for the fight, his seventh such bonus in six fights.

In the post-fight interview, Daniel Cormier asked Gaethje if he was looking to fighting an Irishman (Connor McGregor) next or a Russian (current Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov). 

“The Irishman’s retired,” Gaethje said. “I want a real fighter. I want the winner of Tony (Ferguson, ranked No. 1) and Khabib. I want to fight Khabib before he’s gone. And if Tony wins, nobody is going to miss that fight.”

Donald Cerrone looks bewildered as he attempts to defend himself after getting knocked to his knees.

While Gaethje may not want to fight McGregor, it could be a huge payday for him and McGregor has taken to Twitter to bait him. Afterward, Gaethje said he would gladly fight McGregor if he wanted to and that he looked forward to beating him badly. Either way, a title fight could certainly be in the cards very soon for the Highlight.