The duo delivered on weeks of hype surrounding the fight with Alvarez clawing his way back from an early good start by undefeated Gaethje. With a second-round edge and Alvarez looking jaded, Gaethje was the firm favorite in the early rounds but like a recoiled cobra Alvarez struck back in the third round with a vicious right knee to the face of the opponent.
Referee Herb Dean stopped the fight at 3:59 third round to give the TKO decision to Alvarez who improved to 29-5 whereas Gaethje suffered his first professional career loss (18-1).
Former World Series of Fighting champion Gaethje didn’t go down easily, the power of his strikes left Alvarez in physical discomfort from badly swollen right cheek and sore left leg forcing him to change his stance.
They promised us a war.
— UFC (@ufc) December 3, 2017
Round one saw both fighters trading blows with constant momentum change, with Alzarez just tipping the first round. However, Alvarez fought off heavy leg strikes early on in second round and later countered with body shots, right hands, and a left hook to stop his opponent's advancements.
Despite the odds stacked up against him, Alvarez pulled off an impressive victory showing great fortitude, Alvarez celebrated raising his hands and climbed on top of the ring wall.
He said: "That's the only one I care about right now. There are many different titles and there are titles that aren't being defended. All the fans want to see who was the most violent guy in here. That's all they wanted to see."
On further elaborating about his chances if the fight had gone the distance Alvarez confessed: "It starting to bug me and if this was a five-rounder, I was going to need to finish that in the third because four and five would have been tough for me. I trained with a lot of my training partners going southpaw so I was able to resort to that."
Despite his victory, Alvarez paid his respects to his opponent by bowing down at his feet; the difference maker turned out to be the execution of careful game plane on part of Alvarez to counter aggression of Gaethje.
Moment Alvarez TKO's Gaethje with the right knee, source: Bloody Elbow
Shedding some light on how he trained and prepared for the aggression of Gaethje, Alvarez said: "It's tough to spar and get ready for Justin Gaethje because he puts you in a fight every time so I needed my training partners to come after me. That's what they did and I realized the body was the best way to take care of that.”