It took just 69 seconds for Justin Gaethje to establish himself as World Series of Fighting's marquee lightweight. The still-undefeated Gaethje (11-0) highlighted a night of early finishes by brutally stopping Rich Patishnock via TKO to claim the inaugural 155-pound WSOF title in the main event of WSOF 8, which took place Saturday night at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, FL.
Both Gaethje and heavy underdog Patishnock (6-2) stormed out like men on fire, engaging in a wild brawl from the opening bell. Patishnock caught Gaethje early with a salvo, but Gaethje turned the tide by blasting Patishnock with a huge knee to the head followed by a right hook that appeared to briefly turn his foe's lights out.
Amazingly Patishnock survived, but Gaethje continued to dial up his pressure, unloading volley after volley of unanswered uppercuts and elbows to an eventually out-on-his-feet Patishnock along the fence, forcing referee Troy Waugh to intervene 1:09 into the first round.
"All the years are paying off right now," an overjoyed Gaethje said afterward.
"We haven't worked one elbow all camp, man. I don't know, to tell you the truth. Coach is just always me to have fun out there, stay creative. And that's what I'm doing."
In the night's co-main event, former UFC welterweight Anthony Johnson (16-4) entered his impending free agency on a ridiculous high note, scoring a highlight reel knockout of Mike Kyle (20-11-1, 2 NC) midway through bout's opening frame.
Fighting on the final fight of his WSOF contract, the now-light heavyweight Johnson caught Kyle rushing inside with a devastating overhand right hook, which sent the veteran tumbling unconscious to the canvas. "Rumble" followed up with one more diving right hand before referee Troy Waugh managed to jump in and save Kyle.
The official time of the finish came at 2:03 of the first round, marking Johnson's sixth consecutive win since being cut from the UFC.
Jessica Aguilar (17-4) reinforced her status as the world's No. 1 female strawweight fighter in the night's other championship bout, seizing the inaugural WSOF women's strawweight title with a quick first-round submission victory over the previously undefeated Alida Gray (4-1).
Aguilar tripped Gray along the fence early, then softened her up with punches from half guard before sinking in an arm-triangle choke and jumping into side control, coaxing a tapout just 2:45 into the opening frame.
"It's been eight years coming," said an ecstatic Aguilar, whose her winning streak now extends to eight straight. "It's a lot of hard work that I've done, and it all paid off right here."
Although Bollinger tried a few flashy strikes, for the most part both fighters played it conservatively throughout the 15-minute bout, which was contested primarily on the feet. Bollinger, who was thrown off TUF 18 for failing to make weight, appeared surprised when the official decision was read. All three judges scored the fight 29-28 in his favor.
"I fought with a broken rib and blown out shoulder. I did the best I could with the injuries I had. God bless and thanks for the support!" Bollinger tweeted afterward.
On the night's televised opener, Luis Palomino (22-9) smashed the lights out of Jorge Patino (35-14-2, 1 NC) with a ferocious second-round sequence to earn a TKO victory in his WSOF debut. The 33-year-old lightweight dropped Patino with a crushing straight right, knee to the body combination, then put Patino to sleep with a flurry of punches at 4:20 of the second frame.
For complete WSOF 8 results, click here.