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WSOF 29 results: Justin Gaethje finishes Brian Foster in the first with crushing leg kicks

Chuck Mindenhall

Justin Gaethje flashed his trademarked reckless if ferocious style on Saturday night as the WSOF lightweight champion retained his title after stopping Brian Foster with leg kicks in the first round.

Foster got right to work after the opening bell with jabs to the body and attempted forward pressure. within 30 seconds, the two exchanged heavily with an assortment of reactionary punches. Foster was able to tag him, but was dropped by Gaethje.. The challenger, however, was able to get to his feet without taking additional damage.

Foster appeared to have recovered and was trying to score every way he could on the outside and in the clinch. After the first minute, Gaethje began to land an outside leg kick and within a few scoring, Foster was clearly hobbled and in tremendous discomfort. Smelling blood, Gaethje poured on the same kick to a progressively deteriorating Foster before the challenger ultimately collapsed to the mat, clutching his leg in agony and prompting the referee to call the main event off.

The conclusion came officially via TKO at 1:43 of the very first round. The win brings Gaethje's record to 15-0 with his fourth successful title defense.

"I have no idea," Gaethje told color commentator Chael Sonnen when asked where he gets power in his leg kicks. "I don't specifically work on kicks. My coaches don't work on my kicks because it comes natural. I don't want to change anything.

"All I want to know is, 'Who's next?'," Gaethje asked. "That's all I want to know right now."

According to the champion, Foster did sneak through a few shots and bloodied him, but the plan of the challenger to be offensively proactive and press Gaethje backwards backfired.

"He hit me in the lip. I've got a busted lip," Gaethje noted. "That's how I fight. It's not going to change. The worst thing you can do is come out here and try to push me backwards because I will not go backwards. So, you're going to meet me in the center and I'll beat you."

As for who will be next for the undefeated WSOF king, it appears UFC and Strikeforce veteran Jason High is next in line.

"I want Jason High next," Gaethje said. "He's a little smart ass, so that's what I want right now. He's next. He better be ready."

In the co-main event, heavyweight veterans Josh Copeland and Mike Hayes squared off. Copeland would score first with a series of blitzing punches that snapped Hayes' head back. That'd be true for a counter left hand  that connected as Hayes attempted an outside leg kick.

Copeland would eventually press Hayes into the fence and worked from the 50/50 clinch as he intermittently scored knees, elbows and more. With less than two minutes left in the first, Hayes was able to score separation and exchange some in the middle. Copeland would take the center and push Hayes back with proactive striking. Copeland would close the frame with a digging hook to the body.

The two would pick up where they left off in the first half of the round. The two traded jabs as Copeland largely took the center while Copeland slightly added a few more shots. Copeland was able to double up on the jab and have more success finding a home for his big right, drawing blood from the nose of Hayes.

Hayes was able to put more pressure in the last minute with Copeland circling on the outside of a more active Hayes. In fact, Hayes was able to land a stiff combination on an unguarded Copeland leaning against the fence just seconds before the bell sounded.

Copeland kicked off the third round clinching with Hayes and backing him into the fence, although Hayes was able to create separation. Copeland would have more success with a steady diet of left check hooks and home run rights after their separation, but not without Hayes clearly landing his own bevy of jabs and outside leg kicks.

The best punch of the round came when Copeland tagged Hayes with a check hook inside the two-minute window. This worsened Hayes' flow of blood and had the taller fighter struggling to land effectively. The two went crazy as the round ended, trading flailing bombs through the sound of the final bell.

Ultimately, the judges scored the bout in favor of the busier and more offensively effective Copeland with a unanimous decision. Their scores were 30-27, 30-27 and 30-27.

Strikeforce veteran Cory Devela got into trouble on the main card in a middleweight bout opposite Louis Taylor. Devela shot in on Taylor, but as he tried to finish a single leg takedown was placed in a standing guillotine by Taylor. Ultimately, Devala would go limp as Taylor walked him into the cage and finished the submission attempt at just :29 of the first round.

The NBC Sports broadcast opened with a welterweight between the hometown Josh Cavan and fellow Colorado native Kris Hocum. Cavan was the first to attempt real offense first in the fight, faking a punch into a level change, but was still unable to do much with it. He would attempt it again, but Cavan still came up short. Hocum would score intermittently throughout the middle of the first round, but Cavan gets the takedown pressure on. The takedown never came for Cavan, but it was clear where each competitors wanted to place the fight.

In the second round, Cavan tried to up the intensity, but was met by the more accurate striker in Hocum. In fact, in the first minute, Hocum's punches and knees forced a takedown attempt from the wobbly Cavan. Cavan would keep the pressure on, but halfway through the frame would begin to show the scars of battle as Hocum opened up his opponent with jabs and elbows. Cavan was able to mostly get Hocum to the ground as he took a knee for approximately a minute as he tried to fight off the takedown, which he did. Even in the last 30 seconds, Cavan shot in on Hocum, pressed him to the fence, but wasn't able to wrestle Hocum to the mat.

Hocum started round three with his own double that scores after he changes directions on it to plant Cavan down. Still, Cavan was able to stand, but early was on the defensive against Hocum's wrestling pressure. Just as that takes place, Cavan goes back to pressing Hocum into the fence as Hocum tries to stand from turtle. With two minutes left, Hocum stands, but only long enough for Cavan to back him into the fence again. Hocum attempts a wrist control-switch, but ends up letting Cavan get back on top as Hocum works from turtle. The round ends with Cavan on Hocum's back trying to sink the choke and land strikes.

Ultimately, the judges awarded Hocum the split decision 29-28, 28-29 and 29-28.

WSOF 29 took place at the Bank of Colorado Arena in Greeley, Colorado. The main card aired live on NBC Sports.

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