Saturday afternoon, Justin Gaethje retained his World Series of Fighting Lightweight Championship with a second-round TKO of one-armed phenom Nick Newell. It was a performance that continued to boost the stock of the WSOF star.
Gaethje pushed his record to 12-0 with 10 knockouts. He is 5-0 with five knockouts in WSOF, including finishes of Newell, UFC vet Dan Lauzon and Strikeforce vet JZ Cavalcante. That is the type of resume that makes Gaethje elite at lightweight.
He has shown to be an excellent striker, using vicious kicks and meat-hook punches that aim for one thing: damage. Most fans don't know this, but this striker also has a wrestling background that we rarely see, making him well-rounded.
He doesn't like fighting the whole 15 minutes as well. He has only gone to a decision once in his career, against the ultra-tough Marcus Edwards. He has ended almost half of his fights in the first round, showing he gets to work quickly.
It's not like he's been fighting chumps either. From the get-go of his pro career, he has been facing tough competition. In fact, he beat Maximum and Titan Fighting Championship vet Kevin Croom in his pro debut. Impressive, to say the least.
Outside of Eddie Alvarez, Gaethje is the best lightweight not currently on the UFC roster. And, as more and more of his contracted fights pass, the closer he is to possibly getting inked by the world's largest promotion.
With Alvarez tied up in Bellator, Gaethje is now the most attractive fighter on the market, assuming he's not completely tied up in WSOF. If he's eligible to be signed, he's the best available fighter for the UFC to pick up.
His strength of schedule and impressive finishing rate make him arguably the most sought-after man in MMA. He's the type of guy who would be a star in the UFC based on his fighting style and no-nonsense way in the cage.
He's young too. That makes him the star of the future in the lightweight division. He's only 25 years old and has improved in every fight he's been in.
Where Gaethje goes next in WSOF, I don't know. There aren't a huge number of contenders lining up outside of maybe Melvin Guillard, who also won Saturday against Cavalcante. That would be the best litmus test for Gaethje as he continues his ascent up the lightweight world rankings.
World Series of Fighting is sitting on a star. He has the potential for great things in the future.
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