Barboza is looking to continue his winning ways after dismantling Dan Hooker at UFC Milwaukee in December. Gaethje, a former WSOF champ, is also hoping to make it two straight wins inside the Octagon after starching James Vick early at UFC Lincoln in August.
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Gaethje opens up with a series leg kick early as the crowd begins chanting his name. Barboza responds with his own kicks as Gaethje ducks in and narrowly missed with an hook. Barboza looks for the high kick but Gaethje answers with a flurry, sending his opponent staggering back. Barboza is looking to survive as Gaethje turns on the pressure. Barboza clinches up but finds himself stuck against the fence. Gaethje connects with an uppercut and breaks free.
Barboza connects with a left hand. Gaethje bites down on his mouth piece and starts swinging violently. Barboza responds with his own flurry of violence before staggering Gaethje with a leg kick. Gaethje shows now signs of damage as he unloads with a murderous right hand hook to the jaw. With his opponents eyes rolling into the back of his head, Gaethje rushes forward but is shoved away by the referee, giving him the knockout victory.
Official result: Justin Gaethje def. Edson Barboza via KO (punches) at 2:30 of Round 1