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Rough night for ex-wrestlers Gaethje, Williams at UFC on FOX 29

Two former college wrestlers with Arizona roots opened and closed UFC on FOX 29 Saturday ... and both came out on the losing end of their fights.

In the main event to conclude the UFC on FOX 29 broadcast live from the Gila River Arena in Glendale, Ariz. Saturday night, Justin Gaethje, 2010 NCAA All-American for the University of Northern Colorado, was the victim of a fourth-round TKO at the hands of Dustin Poirier in a five-round, top-of-the-card 155-pound lightweight bout ... while, in the very first fight of the event, former Arizona State wrestler Patrick Williams lost a unanimous decision to Luke Sanders.

Justin Gaethje

Gaethje falls in "Fight of the Year" contender

In terms of action, the UFC on FOX 29 main event did not disappoint -- unless you are a fan of Justin Gaethje, who grew up not far from the fight site (and in fact was a two-time Arizona state champ for nearby Safford High) -- as more than one account of the bout described it as being worthy of "fight of the year" honors.

"The UFC on FOX 29 main event between Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje was everything we thought it would be," according to MMAFighting.com.

"For three rounds on Saturday night, the lightweights threw down with ferocity and reckless abandon, thrilling the crowd at Gila River Arena in Gaethje's backyard of Glendale, Ariz."

"But in the fourth, Poirier, his legs chopped up by leg kicks and the victim of two eye pokes, came out and finished the job. Poirier earned the TKO victory in the early clubhouse leader for Fight of the Year at the 33-second mark of the fourth round."

"Justin is a warrior," Poirier said afterwards. "This guy would have died in there if Herb Dean didn't stop the fight."

Here's how ESPN described the action in the 155-pound main event.
"Down to just one leg (and one eye), UFC lightweight Dustin Poirier knocked out Justin Gaethje in the fourth round of a back-and-forth fight on Saturday."

"Poirier rocked Gaethje with a left hand, then followed with punches until referee Herb Dean called it off at the 33-second mark of the round."

"It was an impressive finish, especially considering Poirier's lead right leg was chewed up by leg kicks. His right eye was also swollen shut, from a combination of punches and inadvertent eye-pokes by Gaethje."

With the UFC at FOX 29 loss, Gaethje is now 18-2 in his pro mixed martial arts career. The former Northern Colorado mat star had been on an 18-match win streak -- with 15 of those wins by knockout -- until being knocked out himself in his last two bouts. With the win, Poirier improves to 23-5 overall.

Williams loses on unanimous decision

In the first fight of the night, former Sun Devil matman Patrick Williams came out on the losing end of a unanimous decision in a three-round bantamweight (135-pound) bout to Luke Sanders, 30-27, 30-27, and 29-28.

"The two men were cautious to start, feeling each other out from range but hesitating to truly commit ..." MMAJunkie.com reported. "With Williams visibly tiring, Sanders tagged him with a high kick and another big left in the closing seconds of the opening frame."

"The two men traded low kicks to open the second, and each landed clean when they went high, as well. However, Williams quick start faded as the round wore on, and Sanders kept the pressure high."

That pattern continued into the third and final period, with the judges agreeing that Sanders had won the bout.

With the loss, Williams is now 8-6 overall in his pro MMA career he launched in August 2010 (1-3 in UFC competition), and has dropped back-to-back fights for the first time in his professional career. Sanders picks up his first UFC win since January 2016, improving his overall record to 12-2, and 2-2 in UFC.

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