It was more than five years ago that Jon Jones and Alexander Gastafsson first met in what many consider to be one of the greatest fights in UFC history. There were enough people watching that thought Gus won to leave a bad taste in both men’s mouths, and the contentious rematch was designed to settle the score once and for all.
There was hesitancy in the first round by both men, almost as if they were reintroducing themselves from 2013, and while both fighters, particularly Jones, landed some shots, not much damage was done. Gustafsson marched down Jones from the center, while Bones appeared content to counter from the perimeter for much of the fight, and in the more up-tempo round two, they began to find their shots. In particular, some leg kicks from Jones routinely knocked Gus off balance.
Bones took the Mauler to the mat early in the third round and tried to unleash some elbows from the top, and while Gus was able to evade them, Jones exerted control from the top, smothering Gus and leaving him vulnerable to some nasty ground and pound. Unable to defend, the ref stopped the fight, and Jones reclaimed his hardware as light heavyweight champion.
There can only be one, to use Dana White’s phrase “baddest woman on the planet,” and whatever the outcome, UFC 232’s co-main would deliver exactly that.
At the opening bell, both women came out swinging, but it was Amanda Nunes who found her mark, dropping Cris Cyborg several times before finishing her with a devastating overhand right.
Nunes needed less than a minute to find herself in the record books as the first-ever two-division champ, holding both the women’s bantamweight and women’s featherweight belt. She also became the first fighter to finish Cyborg, and handed Cyborg her first loss since 2005.
With her defeat first of Ronda Rousey, her undefeated reign as bantamweight champ, and now her dispatching of the dominant force known as Cris Cyborg, Amanda Nunes can go to sleep tonight content in the knowledge she’s the greatest women’s fighter of all time.
Michael Chiesa looked visibly happier and more energetic over the course of the last fight week; clearly the move from 155 to 170 has made a huge difference for the former Ultimate Fighter winner, and it would show in this fight. His first contest at welterweight would be former WEC champ Carlos Condit, a man he once idolized enough to wear his t-shirts. Condit was hungry for a win, coming off an uncharacteristic tough skid. In a wild first round spent largely on the mats or in the clinch, the fighters gamely took turns reversing positions and slipping one another’s clever submission attempts. In the second round, however, Chiesa needed only moments after dropping Condit to the mat to grind him into a one-handed Kimura submission. The student became the teacher, and the welterweight division just got a little more crowded.
Two fighters very interested in the outcome of the evening’s main event, Ilir Latifi and Corey Anderson came into the fight knocking loudly on the door of a light heavyweight title shot. The entire contest was an exercise in their determination to take the next step in their careers; both men energetically throwing haymakers of every stripe. Latifi looked to lean into the pocket, while Anderson did his level best to keep distance, and while the exchanges felt even, Latifi seemed to wear more damage than his opponent heading into the third round. Damage or no, both men continued taking turns moving forward and pounding one another, and it almost defies imagination that neither went down. A scrap that didn’t feel like it would reach the final bell somehow managed to, and Anderson’s continuous pressure and endurance was enough to give him the nod.
Two men gunning for the belt held by Max Holloway, Chad Mendes and Alexander Volkanovski kicked off the Pay-Per-View portion of the evening with a display of why they are among the division’s elite. Volkanovski pressed forward in the first round, looking for ranging for his combinations, while Mendes relied on some solid countering from the perimeter. This pattern continued into the second until Mendes rocked the Aussie with a pair of right hands that had the potential to end the fight, but instead seemed to give Volkanovski a second wind, opening up cuts on Mendes’ face with some powerful combos. When the fight moved to the mat, it looked for a moment that Mendes’ signature wrestling could end the fight when Volkanovski gave up his back, but fighting back to his feet, Alexander unleashed another torrent of blows on Mendes that dropped Mendes and forced the ref to step in. With the win, Volkanovski continues an unbroken win streak that began in 2013.
On paper, it was a contest to determine whether Andrei Arlovski was still the world-beater of yore or that Walt Harris was ready to move from prospect to contender in the heavyweight division. The split decision and the iron will of both men suggested more research would be needed to make either conclusion.
In the early going, it was Arlovksi who looked lighter and spry, getting the best of their stand-and-bang exchanges. Harris immediately showed signs of fatigue, but was still able to unload on the legend, seeking his hole for his dreaded power-shot and inflicting damage while the sought it.
By the third round, it was Arlovski looking tired and Harris looking rejuvenated, but moth men continued to swing and pound, landing shots that would floor lesser opponents. At the final bell, two judges saw Harris’ late surge as the difference maker, and he leaves The Forum with the win.
In a battle of two fighters seeking their first win at UFC women’s featherweight Megan Anderson and Cat Zingano sought to make a case to be the next opponent of the evening’s co-main winner.
With so much anticipation for two dominant female martial artists, the conclusion was a quick and curious one. A glancing high-kick from Anderson seemed to catch Zingano squarely in the right eye, immobilizing her against the fence. Despite an order from the referee to continue fighting, Zingano didn’t re-engage and the fight was called as Anderson swarmed in. In sportsmanlike fashion, Anderson offered a Zingano a rematch during her Octagon interview.
Two bantamweight contenders with a penchant for putting on a show did exactly that in the second fight of the FS1 prelims. While both got their licks in early, it was Petr Yan unloading heavier shots in the first round, stinging Douglas Silva De Andrade with overhand combinations and concise body kicks. Yan carried his momentum into the second, touching up De Andrade with more combinations and then controlling him on the ground, ending the round with a steady barrage of elbows. So heavy was the damage inflicted by the Russian that De Andrade’s corner called the fight before the third round began. Another impressive performance for Yan who remains undefeated in the UFC.
Living MMA legend and fan-favorite BJ Penn made his return to the Octagon against Ryan Hall in a matchup of lightweight grappling prowess. Hall attempted to lure the fight to the mat early on, and while Penn initially resisted, Hall saw an opening and engaged, moving with snake-like speed into a heel hook and tapping the former champion immediately, and becoming the first fighter to ever submit Penn.
In a highly anticipated contest between two of the bantamweight division’s hottest prospects, Nathaniel Wood and Andre Ewell closed out the early FIGHT PASS prelims with a high-energy skirmish. Wood’s punches got more value in the first round, notably rocking and dropping Ewell on several occasions. Ewell started off the second in a flurry, nailing Wood before succumbing to a takedown where Wood was able to work head and body shots from the top position for most of the round. Needing a finish going into the third, Ewell was too fatigued as Wood kept the pressure on, going back to work on the ground and griding “Mr. Highlight” into position to execute the rear naked choke. Another strong performance from the Brit, who goes 2-0 in the UFC.
Straight out of his appearance on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, Jon Jones teammate Bevon Lewis looked strong in his UFC debut against veteran Uriah Hall, routinely lighting him up with well-timed front kicks and overhand jabs. In the second round, Lewis displayed some strong clinch control as he worked from the back. There is a reason, however, that Hall has been in the game as long as he has. Patiently hanging with Lewis’ flurry, Hall found a home for vicious counter right hand to the head that sent the newcomer to the mat for a stunning KO. An emotional Hall dedicated the win to his sister from the Octagon, saying "I wasn't fighting for me tonight, I was fighting for my sister. It's been a rough time for her. She's battling depression. She's such an incredible human being."
Siyar Bahadurzada may be one of the most feared and lethal strikers in his division, but Curts Millender’s speed and escapability, not to mention size advantage, were the story of the first half of this fight. We’ll timed head kicks and counterstriking rocked Bahadurzada until he was able to score a second round takedown and take control of the fight. With the scorecards potentially tied, both men came out swinging for the fences in the third, with Millender getting the better of the exchanges, landing his right jab again and again. An exhausted Bahadurzada moved the fight briefly back to the canvas, but by then the damage had been done. Millender stays undefeated in the UFC, and extends his professional win streak to nine.
It was a fight that wasn’t likely to see the third round, and in fact, it never saw the second. Both keen strikers came forward methodically, but it was Jackson that got hot first, closing distance and grounding Kelleher with a strong elbow against the fence. Unleashing some ground and pound that had Kelleher covering up, Jackson quickly executed a Darce choke for the first submission win of his career.