Was Eddie Alvarez vs. Justin Gaethje the violent war we all hoped for? You’d better believe it!
Call it the All-Violence Classic. Eddie Alvarez and Justin Gaethje coached opposite one another on The Ultimate Fighter 26. With the TUF 26 Finale going down last night, the UFC saved one of the most promising coaches fights in years for UFC 218. Unfolding tonight in Detroit, fans were finally treated to a dream bout between ex-Bellator and UFC lightweight champion Alvarez, and ex-WSOF lightweight champ Gaethje.
Both men were decorated fighters, and Gaethje had yet to face defeat in his professional career. With no beef between the two on the show, and both capable of putting on exciting, violent fights, Alvarez vs. Gaethje was a strong contender for fight of the night heading into UFC 218.
In the first round, Justin Gaethje worked the legs of Eddie Alvarez, as expected. Alvarez, however, was showing solid head movement, and was getting the better of the action on the feet. Both men ate some heavy shots, but Gaethje almost certainly took more damage. Alvarez seemed to be enjoying himself, getting creative towards the end of the round with a rolling kick. The big story in round one, however, wasn’t the leg kick of Gaethje but the body shots of Alvarez, which were doing some serious harm.
Round two saw a bloody war continue, with Alvarez more often then not getting the better of the striking. Gaethje would cover up, and at times look stunned, but never really seemed in danger of being finished. Neither did Alvarez, who had his jab going at times. He continued to work the body; the pair would trade knees. As the round wore on, however, Gaethje’s leg kicks were becoming more of a factor, with Alvarez switching stances for the first time. At round’s end, a slip by Gaethje saw him flip over backwards and eat a kick on the way up.
Round three saw further damage to Alvarez’s leg; he switched stances again, and even pulled guard. Gaethje would work the leg, and Alvarez would try to take the back mid-round. The momentum seemed to shift, as Alvarez was having a hard time with his movement. Alvarez had his leg kicked out from under him, but came back with a number of uppercuts. Then, out of nowhere with ninety seconds to go, a huge knee from Alvarez connected to the head of Gaethje. The former WSOF champ dropped, and Alvarez added a shot or two before Herb Dean waved it off. After the bout, Alvarez was showing some serious swelling on the face — but he survived and walked away with the win!
Eddie Alvarez def. Justin Gaethje by TKO, Round 3, 3:59