The hard-hitting, forward-moving sluggers threw down for the better part of three rounds on Saturday night, rocking the crowd at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit.
And just when it appeared the bout was going to go the distance, Alvarez, the former UFC and Bellator lightweight champion, used a wicked knee to finish Gaethje, the former World Series of Fighting champ. The time was 3:59 of the final round as Alvarez won the TUF 26 coaches fight.
“All the fans want to see is who is the most violent guy is in there,” Alvarez said.
Gaethje got things rolling in the opening round by peppering Alvarez with wicked kicks to his lead leg. Just as it looked like the fight was going to go south for Alvarez fast, though, he started to respond with shots to the head and particularly the torso which landed.
In the second, Alvarez’s stuck and moved, while Gaethje remained stationary, and Alvarez started to pull ahead. But Gaethje still hit brutal kicks and landed to the head as well.
In the third, both fighters somehow pushed forward. Gaethje’s kicks were taking a clear toll. But then Alvarez landed the knee, handing Geathje his first career defeat.
“It was starting to bug me,” Alvarez said of the kicks. “I would have needed to finish it in the third, because four and five would have been tough.”
Alvarez improved to 29-5 (1 NC) with his 23rd stoppage. Gaethje dropped to 18-1.