The two veteran fighters met in the center of the octagon and Gaethje delivered leg kicks. Cerrone tried to land counter punches off the leg kicks with limited success. In each exchange, Gaethje appeared to be the faster fighter. He beat Cerrone to the punch and when Cerrone engaged, Gaethje answered with counter strikes. Cerrone pressed forward with a combination and Gaethje landed a right hand that dropped "Cowboy" to his knees. Cerrone stood only to be met with uppercuts. Another right hand by Gaethje knocked Cerrone down. Gaethje thought the fight was over but the referee didn't step in. Gaethje landed a two more punches before the fight was stopped.
After the fight, Gaethje thought the referee should have intervened earlier and criticized the late stoppage.
"The ref, in the back he said if you fall to your face it's over. I thought he fell like that two times and I had to continue to hit him," said Gaethje. "That was my friend. I didn't want to keep punching him. I'll be honest with you."
With the win, Gaethje is now riding a three-fight winning streak and will likely be ranked third in the 155-pound division. Asked if he wanted to fight Conor McGregor or champion Khabib Nurmagomedov next, Gaethje made it clear that he wants a title shot.
"The Irishman is retired. I want a real fighter. I want the winner of Tony (Ferguson) and Khabib," he said.
Krylov came out utilizing kicks to keep Teixeira on the outside. Teixeira caught a kick in the early going and secured a takedown. He quickly mounted Krylov and flattened him out. Krylov escaped the position by shaking Teixeira off his back. He turned the tables and mounted Teixeira. Teixeira gave up his back and defended a rear-naked choke attempt before regaining top position. Krylov worked his way back to his feet and landed a combination as the round ended.
In the second frame, Krylov continued to employ kicks as Teixeira pressed forward. Teixeira's right hand began to find a home. Both fighters put together combinations but Teixeira connected with the more significant strikes. In the closing moments of the round, Krylov secured a takedown but was unable to inflict damage.
While the second frame was mostly a striking affair, the third round was grappling heavy. Krylov looked to get the fight to the ground and Teixeira applied a guillotine choke and pulled guard. Krylov defended the submission attempt and gained top position. Teixeira escaped and regained top control. He mounted Krylov and worked to secure an armbar. Teixeira against looked to lock on a guillotine choke but Krylov popped his head free. In the closing seconds of the round, Teixeira swept Krylov and ended the fight in top position. The judges scored the fight for Teixeira by split decision. It was the first time in Krylov's career that he went the distance.
"I was really looking for the submission because I want to break that light heavyweight record, but he was a tough son of a gun," said Teixeira after the win. "Focus and discipline and believing in yourself. Fighting young guys like this is not easy," he said.
UFC Fight Night: Cowboy vs. Gaethje Results
- Justin Gaethje def. Donald Cerrone by TKO (punches) at 4:18, R1
- Glover Teixeira def. Nikita Krylov by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
- Todd Duffee vs. Jeff Hughes ruled No Contest (accidental eye poke) at 4:03, R1
- Tristan Connelly def. Michel Pereira by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 29-27)
- Uriah Hall def. Antônio Carlos Júnior by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
- Misha Cirkunov def. Jimmy Crute by submission (Peruvian necktie) at 3:38, R1
Preliminary Card Results
- Augusto Sakai def. Marcin Tybura by KO (Punches) at 0:59, R1
- Miles Johns def. Cole Smith by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
- Hunter Azure def. Brad Katona by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 39-28)
- Chas Skelly def. Jordan Griffin by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Louis Smolka def. Ryan MacDonald by TKO (punches) at 4:43, R1
- Austin Hubbard def. Kyle Prepolec by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)