It took a little time to get some kinks worked out, but I finally got this thing posted! Greetings fight fans both new and familiar! For those of you who don't know me, my name is sadowolf, the guy over at the Talking MMA community that was responsible for letting everyone know just what the hell happened at every UFC event. I'm excited and grateful to be able to do the same here at Fightful and continue my tradition of breaking down events postmortem as thoughtfully and with as little unstated bias as possible (I always try to state my many, many biases).
For the necessary disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are my own, and do not express the views or opinions of Fightful or any of its affiliates. So without further ado, lets unpack what the hell happened at the UFC's maiden voyage into the ESPN era!
THE MAIN CARD
Cejudo (presumably) saves the flyweights, quickly dispatches Dillashaw
Henry Cejudo (c) def. TJ Dillashaw by TKO via strikes (0:32, R1)
Well who expected that to happen? Coming into the fight Cejudo said he was going in there to finish Dillashaw, and that's precisely what he did. There isn't a ton to break down in a 32 second fight but let's get into it. Essentially, they traded low kicks, Cejudo landed a glancing head kick, shoved Dillashaw to the ground off a missed right hand, and then suddenly dropped him with a thunderous right. Dillashaw attempted to recover a few times with reactionary single legs but was rebuffed each time and met with a torrent of punches until the referee had seen enough, and Cejudo had successfully defended his flyweight title, and hell, all the flyweights.
What really stood out to me here was the speed of Cejudo, and I think it was a significant part of what threw Dillashaw off from the get-go. Cejudo's wide stance made him more susceptible to leg kicks, but enhanced his ability to close and create distance, further aiding the speed advantage he already had. There were two key techniques in the abbreviated contest that I think showed the importance of Cejudo's speed, and Dillashaw's lack of preparedness for just how fast these flyweights are. The first was the glancing head kick; Cejudo has never been known as a fast kicker, so it's clearly something he's been working on. Dillashaw is no defensive dynamo by any stretch, but his reflexes are generally quick enough to use some head movement to slip shots so he can come back with counters. When he saw the head kick coming he got his hand up to block, but was mainly intent on slipping the strike altogether. Against most bantamweights it would've been a clean slip, but here he wasn't able to get completely out of the way, and the kick slapped him across the face; not hard enough to hurt him, but definitely enough to get his attention.
The second, and by far the most important technique was the right hand that dropped Dillashaw. This was by no means a right hand that Dillashaw didn't see coming; it was a right hand he wasn't quick enough to avoid. In the moment immediately preceding the strike, Dillashaw was in a southpaw stance extending his lead hand grab hold of Cejudo's. While this opened TJ up more to the right hand, it also limited Cejudo to throwing it exclusively. Dillshaw knew the right hand was coming, and tried to duck under it while circling away from the power. Again, this would have worked against a slower opponent, but instead Cejudo he couldn't quite get out of the way and the punch grazed him behind the ear, and in that spot a graze from a hard shot is really all you need for some major balance disruption. As the adage goes, "speed kills." Much like the last champion vs champion fight with Amanda Nunes and Cris Cyborg, the short contest coupled with just how important speed was to the success of the winner makes me very interested in how the loser would adjust in a rematch.
Now let's talk about the stoppage:
This one, right here
I'd be remiss if I didn't invoke the combat sports fan's dilemma when regarding this stoppage. What is this dilemma? It's the tug-of-war that occurs internally in us between the desire for fighter safety and the want for a definitive and decisive end to a fight. Sometimes stoppages are just much too early or late and there's no dilemma present, but then there are fights like this one, where things get a bit more complicated. Part of me felt this stoppage was a bit early; Dillashaw never stopped moving and working to recover, seemed pretty together and lucid as soon as it was stopped, and much like the his first career loss to John Dodson, he was grabbing for a single leg when the referee stepped in. I would wager a Big John or a Marc Goddard, and definitely a Josh Rosenthal might have let it go a bit longer. However, Dillashaw had taken quite a few shots at that point, Cejudo thwarted every attempt he took to try and wrestle his way out of the situation immediately, and it was still very early in the fight so it's hard to imagine that situation changing and Dillashaw surviving the onslaught. And what of the weight cut for Dillashaw? I expected Cejudo to have some early success on the feet just because he's the quicker guy and it usually takes Dillashaw a little time to get warmed up, but maybe the cut actually did affect his durability and made him that much easier to hurt. He's always been a smaller bantamweight (Cejudo might have even weighed more by fight time), but he looked particularly drawn out at the weigh ins.
As conflicted as I am about the stoppage, ultimately I feel a Cejudo win was where things were headed regardless. On the other hand, it's one thing to feel and another thing to know. This is what the fighters themselves want: to know unequivocally that they could do nothing to turn the fight around. An understandable stance to have, and one that part of me as a fan shares with them; but also a stance that isn't the best for your health, which immediately makes me feel bad for the notion that I support them taking more damage. I don't blame Dillashaw at all for being angry or even feeling robbed, especially if he actually did feel more rocked in the first Cody Garbrandt fight, as he detailed in the post-fight presser. He did lose the fight though, and it's not a good look at all to take the route of sore loser and outright deny that you lost, because the fact is that you did exactly that. However, as even Cejudo pointed out, that behavior could be what makes him come back better every time. Every one of his losses has had a disputable element to them that gave him reason to push back against the notion that he truly lost, and after every loss he's managed to come back and win four straight (and then lose one). We'll see if the trend continues here. Either way, it'd be nice to see more class and humility out of him regarding this one, even as understandable as his misgivings are.
Another internal conflict I had was just who to root for. I've been a fan of Dillashaw for a while, so I did want him to win and become yet another champ-champ, but I also didn't want him to end up being that harbinger of doom for the flyweight division, which just might have happened had he won this fight. Additionally, although a fan of Dillashaw, he can make it a pretty damn difficult post to hold down with his attitude sometimes. In fact, I personally find that both fighters oscillate between being pretty likable and very unlikable. Dillashaw came into this fight looking overconfident; he seemed to look past Cejudo and considered the fight easy money, and we all saw how well he took the loss. Cejudo is fine in small chunks, but as soon as he has a platform to talk for a while he's so self-aggrandizing that he's a hair away from referring to himself in the third person. The kind of guy who says "You saw how ripped I was at the weigh ins" and refers to himself as iconic with an air of total seriousness. The kind of guy who will complement himself before you have the chance to. I sometimes get shades of more well-spoken Tito Ortiz when I hear him talk about himself. Hearing Dillashaw quiz the reporters after the fight about whether or not they'd be happy with that kind of win (of course they would! And if he's being honest, he probably would too), and then hearing Cejudo basically pull the "I know what I'm talking about, you've never fought bro" card with a reporter when he said that TJ looked to have tripped over his own feet when Cejudo pushed him rather than being rocked from a previous strike just dredged up all the reasons why I have to be prepared to cringe whenever they're interviewed. It all just served as post-fight reminders of why I probably would have been most satisfied with the depressingly rare double knockout.
So what's next for these guys? Cejudo immediately offered Dillshaw a rematch but for Dillashaw's bantamweight title, Dillashaw wants another crack at the flyweight title because he felt that opportunity was stolen from him with the stoppage, and as Sean Ross Sapp said in the Fightful post-fight podcast, I think we're all tired of the bantamweight carousel of rematches. Marlon Moraes deserved a title shot but now has a rematch with Raphael Assuncao, and if not a rematch with Dillashaw, yet another rematch with Joseph Benavidez, who picked up a win in another rematch earlier in the card, would make sense for Cejudo. The first Cejudo/Benavidez fight was a close and pretty controversial win for Benavidez, but it seems Cejudo has entered his prime since while Benavidez is exiting his, so I don't see it being so close the second time around. Which sucks because Benavidez is one of my favorite fighters, but what're ya gonna do? Joe wants it.
Love them or hate them, it's pretty amazing just how much both Cejudo and Dillashaw seem to improve following losses. They're two of the clearer examples of just how a setback can motivate you.
Hardy shows the world exactly why you don't put fighters like him in a prominent slot
Allen Crowder def. Greg Hardy by DQ via illegal knee strike (2:28, R2)
Without going into the particulars, I think it's safe to say we all wanted Hardy to lose despite the fact that most of us picked him to win. We didn't get the kind of loss we wanted, but we did get the kind of loss that perhaps even better illustrates why putting a 3-0 fighter with no martial arts background in the co-main event of a pretty significant card was a silly idea from a sporting perspective. I had to specify "sporting perspective" because the same likely isn't true if we look at this from a promotional perspective, where this gets the UFC even more eyeballs. The result wasn't expected, but it also wasn't too surprising. Hardy was either going to get a quick knockout or struggle after not being able to get a quick knockout, and the latter happened. To his credit he was able to get out of a bad spot on the ground, though Crowder isn't much of a wrestler or grappler. People just expected Hardy to get blown up once the fight hit the ground because he has no martial arts background and had basically only shown that he knew how to sling haymakers up to that point. Also to his credit, he didn't fall apart once he got tired. Crowder still isn't a great fighter by any means, but Hardy performed decently for someone so inexperienced at fighting. But enough giving Hardy props, it feels gross. His inexperience, lack of discipline and control, "bad guy" tendencies, whatever you want to call them came to a head when in the second round he launched a blatant illegal knee right to the temple a clearly grounded Crowder. You see the picture I have accompanying this segment? That's Crowder having no idea what's about to come slamming across his head illegally.
As soon as it happened it was easy to see that a DQ would follow because the knee was too blatant to be considered accidental, and even if Crowder was able to continue, it was doubtful he would. It reminds me of a time I was up to bat in little league baseball, some crazy pitcher with lice threw a fastball right at me for like the third-straight time, and it was so close it might have grazed my helmet. I don't think it did, but when the umpire asked me if it did I nodded and took my walk because fook letting that crazy ass lice-ridden maniac launch more baseballs at my adorable 9 year-old face! This was no grazing, but Crowder isn't adorable, so I think our experiences even out.
In the post-fight presser Hardy said that he really thought he won the fight and that Crowder's knee came up before the knee landed; he was simply trying to time the knee as his opponent got up like he'd seen other fighters do. He missed that read by a country mile. Crowder got one foot down, and hadn't even really started to rise before the knee was delivered. If Hardy's claim is true, this also means that it wasn't a case of not knowing or forgetting the rules; he just made a laughably bad rookie mistake (even by rookie mistake standards) that one might just expect from a 3-0 fighter with no martial arts background fighting in the co-main event of a significant card in the most prominent MMA promotion in the world.
Dana White practically gushed over Hardy, and remarked that he showed he can fight, he can take a punch, and that he's absolutely getting another fight. Okay fine, but one request: bury the guy on the prelims where he belongs.
Gillespie smothers and bludgeons Medeiros for fourth-straight UFC finish
Gregor Gillespie def. Yancy Medeiros by TKO via strikes (4:59, R2)
As expected, Gillespie continued to show why he's such a vaunted lightweight prospect with an absolute drubbing of a solid fighter in Medeiros. There were some worries that Gillespie's all-offense nature could run him into counters, but he simply never really gave Medeiros a chance to capitalize, as he was all over him from the opening horn. Medeiros did well in the first round initiating scrambles and not allowing Gillespie to settle into a position for too long, but he was only prolonging the inevitable; Gillespie has shown that he can wrestle at a relentless pace for 15 minutes, and he made Medeiros work hard in the round. It paid dividends in round two, where the takedowns came a little easier, and were met with less and less resistance on the ground. Before long Gillespie worked his way to mount, teased a couple chokes, and from back mount rained down hard shots on Medeiros until the referee had seen enough.
Initially I thought the fight could've gone into the third round, but upon seeing replays Medeiros looked like he'd had enough. He was only a second away from getting a respite to recover and appeared to briefly dispute the stoppage, but he looked pretty out of it and we saw nothing indicating round three would be any different. All told, Medeiros only managed to land a single strike in the fight. Not just one significant strike, but one strike total, to Gillespie's 51 significant strikes. It was a sensational performance from Gillespie, who at this point I think has earned himself a crack at the top 10. Or Francisco Trinaldo; either would make sense.
An improved Ortiz still not improved enough to beat Benavidez
Joseph Benavidez def. Dustin Ortiz by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
As previously mentioned, Benavidez is one of my favorite fighters and has been since his WEC days, so I was pretty happy with this result and his performance. The fight went off pretty much exactly as I expected: much more competitive than their first meeting, lots of fun fun scrambles, but Benavidez being just a bit too crafty for Ortiz. For my money it was one of the most fun fights on the card to watch because Benavidez is such a high level scrambler, and Ortiz has improved to the point where he can almost keep up with him. This made for some beautiful transitions and reversals that kept you guessing the entire time, with the added bonus of having Daniel Cormier's expert wrestling analysis to break it all down. I geek out about things like this.
Although a competitive bout, I felt it was a pretty clear-cut 29-28 Benavidez victory. Aside from mostly controlling where the fight went in the first, he landed a huge left that knocked Ortiz down near the end of the round to seal it in his favor. Round two was another competitive round that saw Ortiz shift the momentum in his favor a bit with him coming out on top in scrambles more often, while round three shifted back to Benavidez looking like the stronger man and the more savvy grappler down the stretch. It was just a great, highly technical fight, and Ortiz even in defeat showed that his having turned a major corner as a fighter is palpable. A lot was made on the broadcast of Ortiz out-landing Benavidez over the course of the fight, but the striking at distance and in dominant positions were a bit more even than the overall totals suggest. Ortiz is a much busier striker in all phases, whereas Benavidez tends to pick his shots at range and prioritize position before striking when in close. Ortiz's busy striking habits in transitions, in the clinch, and on the ground are arguably part of what gets him taken down, reversed, and his guard passed in fights like these. Striking without process in these moments are what provide a patient fighter who capitalizes on aggression their opportunities to reverse the roles, and that's exactly the kind of fighter Benavidez is. He will rarely attempt to strike in the clinch or on the ground unless he has some level of control over his opponent's positioning and/or he already has them hurt. Factors like that made all the difference in this fight.
As much as I'd hate to see Benavidez lose another title fight (and I'm somewhat confident he loses to the current version of Cejudo), I think he's a solid candidate for Cejudo's next title defense. He's 8-1 since his last failed title bid, and that loss is to someone who left the division. Plus he has a win over the champ. Benavidez is once again the clear #2 in my eyes.
VanZant overcomes some adversity and spoils Ostovich's comeback story
Paige VanZant def. Rachael Ostovich by submission via arm bar (1:50, R2)
It's official: VanZant is the toughest Instagrammaliciously photogenic fighter on the roster! In all seriousness, I liked this fight much more than I thought I would, particularly because of some of the strides Ostovich has made as a fighter. She's looked increasingly more comfortable on the feet, and even showed a better ability to transition between phases when she landed an overhand right and seamlessly changed levels to get a quick takedown. It was a big improvement over her usual performances where she's often awkward and gun shy on the feet and struggles to get her wrestling going because she doesn't set her takedowns up. I've even mentioned her lack of speed and athleticism in the past, and she looked much sprier this time around. It's a real shame some familiar mistakes are what cost her the fight.
After a pretty dominant first round that saw VanZant's only success come in the form of a couple heel hook attempts near the end of the round, Ostovich briefly looked to pick up where she left off in round two. Cardio has been a bit of a bane for Ostovich in her career, and she seemed to slow fairly quickly in the second stanza, which may have allowed VanZant to take her back pretty easily in a scramble. VanZant's positioning was too high and Ostovich attempted to shake her off, but left both of her arms exposed and VanZant took the opportunity to snag an armbar on her left arm. It looked as if she would successfully escape out the back, but VanZant's weight appeared to come down on her elbow joint and she tapped immediately. The referee was out of position and didn't see the tap, and I have to commend VanZant for letting go of the submission as soon as she felt it (somewhere Overeem was seething at that moment).
As nice of a win as it was for VanZant, she has really regressed as a fighter recently. It appears that since the loss to Rose Namajunas, she's lost confidence in her abilities as an aggressive, swarming wrestle-grappler, and instead decided she'd fall in love with striking at distance. Frankly, she's not very good at that, and despite being 2-2 since that Namajunas loss she arguably hasn't looked too good in any of those fights. Her previous version was far more enthusiastic than she was technically gifted, but her tireless gas tank and ability to wear on opponents netted her better performances. Granted her level of competition has also risen, but you figure her old fighting style might have had better minute-to-minute results against fighters like Ostovich, Jessica-Rose Clark, and Bec Rawlings. VanZant picked up a much needed victory, but I'm still not too optimistic about her future in the division.
And of course I have to feel for Ostovich here. Although I picked VanZant to win, it would have made for a great story to see her pick up a victory after overcoming her injuries suffered due to domestic assault. She returned from a broken orbital sooner than expected, put on a fine performance, but slipped in the end. I think Ostovich is turning into a pretty decent fighter despite her 4-5 record, and hopefully she gets the match ups needed to help her evolve further. On the plus side for both women, there wasn't a single ill-advised head-and-arm throw in this fight! I seriously would have bet money that we'd see at least one. That's progress!
Teixeira proves an old dog's tricks can still work
Glover Teixeira def. Karl Roberson by submission via arm triangle choke (3:21, R1)
This was a pretty wild fight for the short time it lasted. Teixeira, ever the veteran, knew exactly what he needed to do from the onset: get the fight to the ground. I feel he's become more cognizant of his limitations due to his age, and much more focused on taking the path of least resistance, which is great for him. He did meet some resistance here though, as an immediate takedown shot was met with a healthy dose of those nasty "Travis Browne elbows" from Roberson. A few of them landed to the back of the head, and I thought for sure Teixeira was done, but he actually managed to survive, even though he soon found himself mounted and taking more punishment. But hey, we know who the grappler is here. Teixeira managed to escape the predicament and completely turn the tables with a takedown. From there it was just a matter of time before Roberson met his end; Teixeira quickly passed to mount, softened Roberson up with some strikes, and locked in a tight arm-triangle choke for the tap.
I'm always happy to see Teixeira win; he's truly one of the good guys of the sport. Plus a loss to Roberson wouldn't even have been good for the division, as he came up from middleweight for the fight. By no means do I see Teixeira becoming a credible threat to the title at this point, but I think he's carved out a pretty nice spot for himself as a gatekeeper to the elite, an underappreciated but vital component to every division.
Donald Cerrone def. Alexander Hernandez by TKO via strikes (3:43, R2)
This was not only a highly entertaining fight on it's own merit, but it was also very satisfying to watch since Hernandez insists on being the disrespectful, cocky prospect with an invincibility complex. With this fight that complex has been at least momentarily broken, and Hernandez appeared to be humbled by it, stating that Cerrone taught him that he needed to "learn to fight." In a complete 180 from his disrespectful stance on Cerrone prior to the fight, he acknowledged that he needed to stop going into fights thinking he was untouchable and actually make adjustments to what's happening in the cage like Cerrone does. But of course he didn't go full-humble, as he had enough narcissism left to flash the ol' suit and sunglasses indoors with expanded phantom lats look made popular by try-hard tough guys the world over.
Congratulations @cowboycerrone. You taught me something invaluable in defeat. Perhaps the best/worst thing that ever happened to me was a 42 second knockout debut. I go into every fight feeling untouchable and expecting a repeat of the same occurrence. I prepare myself in the moments prior for an execution in the first round and not a fight. I need to learn to fight. I need to address my approach. I brought the fight to Cerrone and where he made adjustments, I did not. Experience is a costly bitch. Thank you @ufc @danawhite @seanshelby for an amazing opportunity and belief in me. I will not let this go in vain. The triumph of adversity is what makes a man and defines legends. I will be be back. And you will know I mean what I say next time you see me. This is good pain.
Come with me if you want to cringe...
Anyway, Cerrone as usual took a few shots before he got going, but once he found his range he repeatedly rocked Hernandez's head back with combinations and sent him retreating, which I'm sure was an unfamiliar feeling for Hernandez. By round two Cerrone was pretty much landing at will, and a big head kick sent Hernandez stumbling down to the canvas. Cerrone followed up with a torrent of elbows and punches from top position before the fight was stopped. Hernandez looked to be trying to make his way back to his feet when the fight was stopped, but this is one that I don't think was quick (and not just because I don't like the guy), because at the moment the fight was stopped he was pretty much supine getting his head bounced off the canvas. Regardless, it's always nice seeing a cocky young up-and-comer being taught a lesson in humility by a grizzled vet. One critique for Cerrone though: grow the beard back and get a haircut; this goatee and receding hairline dad-look ain't working.
He looks like Shane Carwin before he yells out "SHAZAM!"
Joanne Calderwood def, Ariane Lipski by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-27)
Of course I always like to see Calderwood pick up a win, but I'm bummed my lovely violence queen couldn't get it done. I'm not gonna lie; when I saw her start to lump on the side of her face I kinda felt some type of way...like how dare she damage my woman's face!
I meeeaan...do you blame me?
But I digress. When Lipski was originally penciled in to fight Maryna Moroz I was excited because that is a pretty perfect style match up for her; but when Moroz fell out and she was paired with Calderwood I got worried. Lipski has relatively quick, heavy hands and is relentless in the pocket (albeit not always the most technical) while Calderwood has historically displayed spotty boxing at best, but Calderwood's experience with higher level opponents was too hard to overlook. She really set the tone early by smartly and surprisingly taking the fight to the ground, where she would control the action for most of the round. Lipski is a decent grappler, but appeared out of her element since she's not used to fighting opponents who don't stand with her. By the second round she had clearly slowed down from all the grappling she'd done in the previous round, and Calderwood proceeded to outwork her with a varied arsenal of shots from the outside. In round three Lipski became a little more aggressive and started to have a bit more success, even landing a takedown of her own and spending a good amount of time on top. Calderwood threatened with an armbar, but Lipski defended and remained on top. After two clear rounds for Calderwood it was much more competitive, and it may even be arguable that Lipski edged it out, but either way it wasn't enough to get the nod.
This was one of Calderwood's best performances to date, and it seems the move to Syndicate MMA in Las Vegas has been great for her overall game, which isn't very surprising considering Syndicate has a much more notable crop of female fighters for her to train with than Tristar. It appears she's now in the mix of contenders at 125; Dana White confirmed that Jessica Eye is next in line for a title shot, so it'll be interesting to see how Calderwood is booked from here.
Alonzo Menifield def. Vinicius Moreira by TKO via strikes (3:56, R1)
A fight between two Dana White's Contender Series alums above 170 lbs usually means one thing: someone's getting finished within a round and a half. In this fight it was clear that either Menifield would get a relatively fast knockout over the slow-moving Moreira, or Moreira would weather the storm and lull an overly aggressive Menifield into a submission or mercy-tap him when he gassed. The smart money was on Meinfield, and that's how it played out. Menifield landed big shots on the feet while Moreira for some reason thought it was a good idea to throw spinning techniques when you're flat-footed and glacially slow. That ended up being is undoing, as he spun his way into a big right hand that put him down. A few follow up shots and it was all she wrote.
Cory Sandhagen def. Mario Bautista by submission via arm bar (3:31, R1)
I'm not sure how much upside Sandhagen has, and I'm pretty sure Lineker would've blasted him into next week had that match up stayed intact, but holy hell is he fun to watch. After dropping Bautista with a flying knee, he went a bit crazy trying to seal the deal and ended up getting taken down, only to end up catching Bautista in an awkward inverted triangle. Bautista managed to escape but left his arm behind, which Sandhagen gladly snatched for the armbar victory.
Dennis Bermudez def. Te Edwards by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-26)
I've been a fan of Bermudez since his time of TUF, so I was very happy to see him break his streak of bad luck and get himself a win here. It was extra special since he decided to hang up his gloves after this emotional hometown victory. It's always been a blast to watch him fight, and I wish him the best in anything he does from here on out. As for the fight, it was mostly a typical hard-fought Bermudez affair, though thankfully not close enough for him to lose a split decision this time. Bermudez came into this fight on a four-fight losing streak that was pretty irksome because he could have easily gotten the nod in his three most recent losses, which were all by split decision. Edwards proved to be a very palatable last fight for Bermudez; he was good enough to make the fight interesting (since Bermudez still has issues with defense when he pressures), but just flawed enough for Bermudez to really shine at the things he does best. It was intimated on the broadcast that Edwards might be the better wrestler of the two, but that showed to be far from the truth, as he spent much of the fight being unable to thwart Bermudez's wrestling. By the final round he practically laid down when Bermudez shot in on his legs, and seemed resigned to defeat.
Geoff Neal def. Belal Muhammad by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
I won't lie, I thought Muhammad would be a bit too well-rounded and crafty for Neal and end up walking away with a decision. However, Neal just proved to have an answer for him everywhere, and Muhammad couldn't deal with his speed, distance management, and timing. He was consistently beaten to the punch in exchanges, and picked off before he got in range to get his offense going. By the end of the fight Muhammad was a bloody, battered mess. Credit to Muhammad in that he never gave up trying to win the fight, but he was simply outgunned for the entire 15 minutes. Neal is now 3-0 in the UFC and looks more impressive with each win; it remains to be seen how he deals with better wrestlers, but with his slick striking he might just be someone to look out for at 170 lbs.
Chance Rencountre def. Kyle Stewart by submission via rear naked choke (2:25, R1)
The event began with an abbreviated affair that pretty much consisted of Stewart landing groin shot, getting taken down on the restart, getting his back taken, and choked out. It was a nice way for Rencountre to erase his forgettable debut against the aforementioned Muhammad, and a slick submission to boot.
And that about does it for the UFC's first foray into its partnership with ESPN! Other than some reported stream blackouts and some cringe-worthy segments with Steven Screamin' A. Smith, I think it went rather smoothy; though I would argue not as smoothly as Talking MMA's transition to Fighful! The fight discussion section lively and spirited, and I hope it's the first of many to come! I appreciate you all continuing to find entertainment and insight in my post-fight ramblings, and again, hopefully there's much more of that to come! Sado, out!