UFC 286: Justin Gaethje defeats Rafael Fiziev in difficult fight.

Justin Gaethje pursues a UFC lightweight title before retiring. In a three-round bout with Rafael Fiziev at UFC 286, Gaethje showed he can still compete at the top level.

Drumlines clashed between the fighters. Each bludgeoning strike sounded. That showed their power and endurance. Gaethje's first kick nearly knocked Fiziev over.

Fiziev made lightning-fast combos. During 15 minutes, both men remained unmoved despite being hit everywhere.

Gaethje and Fiziev competed. Despite the tempo, Gaethje kept a sense of humour while Fiziev trash-talked between blitzes.

Round 3 seemed like it was ending early. Fiziev repeatedly froze Gaethje with punches that would have eliminated most welterweights and lightweights.

As usual, Gaethje persisted and increased the pressure. The fight left Fiziev's face with cuts and welts. Gaethje's final 30-second uppercut was his most significant.

Despite the early scare, Gaethje won Round 3 after Fiziev won Round 1. Gaethje won with 29-28 cards from two judges and a draw from a third.

"I'm taking one more shot at the belt, but I won't be around for much longer," Gaethje told UFC commentator Daniel Cormier after the fight at London's O2 Arena.

"I'm pleased you're here to appreciate this with me. Thanks." Gaethje's last-second takedown was the biggest surprise. Gaethje's first UFC takedown came against Fiziev.

Gaethje improved to 24-4 with his two losses in the last five years coming against Khabib Nurmagomedov and Charles Oliveira in world title fights. Fiziev's six-fight win streak ended at 12-2.

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