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WSOF lightweight champ Justin Gaethje plans to test free agency

With just two fights left on his current contract, WSOF lightweight champion Justin Gaethje intends to enter the free-agent market.


World Series of Fighting will end 2016 with a New Year’s Eve show in New York City, headlined by lightweight champion Justin Gaethje, but we may not be seeing Gaethje in WSOF much longer.

According to MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani, Gaethje (16-0) is expected to enter free agency after his main event showdown vs. Joao Zeferino. The 28-year-old has spent more than half of his professional career under the WSOF banner, and the exciting knockout artist is one of the premier fighters in the promotion. While Gaethje has two fights left on his contract, Helwani notes that “there is also a term limit on the deal and it will be very hard for WSOF to book him in another fight before it expires.”

Gaethje has successfully defended his World Series of Fighting belt four times. The only time he’s gone the distance in WSOF is a split decision victory over an overweight Melvin Guillard back in November 2014. His last reported salary was $100,000 ($50,000 show/$50,000 win) for his September 2015 stoppage of Luis Palomino. In an interview with Bloody Elbow’s Eddie Mercado, Gaethje said he was going to receive $60,000/$60,000 for his fight vs. Brian Foster, which stands as his most recent outing to date. He also added that he “will be at 80/80 by then end of my contract,” and that “I owe it to myself to not sell myself short by taking a pay cut just to go to another organization.”

WSOF 34: Gaethje vs. Palomino airs live on NBC, with prelims shared between NBC Sports Network and There are a whopping four title fights scheduled for the promotion’s debut show at the Madison Square Garden Theater. The co-main event will see welterweight champ Jon Fitch take on Jake Shields, while bantamweight champion Marlon Moraes — he opted to stay with WSOF after he tested free agency — opens up the NBC broadcast with a title defense vs. Josenaldo Silva. Middleweight and light heavyweight champion Dave Branch will defend his 185 belt on the NBCSN prelims vs. Louis Taylor.

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