The first main event of the UFC on ESPN era ended in a manner reminiscent of the first UFC on FOX event.
Henry Cejudo vs T.J. Dillashaw
That night in Anaheim seven years ago ended with Junior Dos Santos knocking out Cain Velasquez in 64 seconds. On Saturday night in Brooklyn Henry Cejudo defended his flyweight title. Finishing off bantamweight champ T.J. Dillashaw in exactly half that time.
This was a bout, which in the lead-up had been billed as a fight for the future of the flyweight division. A future that has often been in doubt. It seemed all but non-existent when long-time former champ Demetrious Johnson departed the UFC for One Championship.
Dillashaw, aiming to become the fourth ‘Champ Champ’ in UFC history, claimed the UFC was sending him to kill the flyweight division. While Cejudo had positioned himself as the saviour of the flyweights. Based on his performance he may just have accomplished his goal to save the division.
Cejudo came out strong backing Dillashaw up with kicks to the body and head and then dropped the bantamweight king with a right hand to the temple. He unleashed a barrage of ground and pound as Dillashaw tried to scramble to his feet.
Amid a flurry of punches, T.J. was able to get to his knees only for Cejudo to drop him again with a short left hand. This Prompted referee Kevin McDonald to jump in and stop the action at 32 seconds of the very first round. Dillashaw immediately protested the stoppage; passing what Ben Fowlkes and Chad Dundas would call ‘The WTF? Test’.
There is a case to be made that the referee intervened a touch prematurely. However, this one seemed to be only going in one direction.
With the victory Cejudo, a 2008 Olympic gold medallist, successfully makes the first defence of his title and improves to 14-2. Dillashaw falls to 16-4 and will return to bantamweight to continue defending his title. Potentially in a rematch against Cejudo who called for a shot at the 135 lb strap.
Allen Crowder vs Greg Hardy.
In the co-main event, controversial ex-NFL star Greg Hardy’s UFC debut ended in a disqualification due to an illegal knee.
A polarising figure in the MMA world, Hardy’s NFL career ended after a series of domestic violence incidents. His place in this event was all the more questionable, as he shared the card with Rachael Ostovich, a recent survivor of domestic abuse.
Hardy entered the cage to boos raining down from the crowd at the Barclays Centre. He seemed unfazed starting out strong and throwing heavy punches at his opponent Allen Crowder. Crowder managed to weather the early storm and took Hardy down midway through the round. Immediately Hardy, in only his fourth professional fight looked like a fish out of water, and Crowder was able to neutralise the former Pro Bowler for much of the rest of the round.
Hardy seemed visibly fatigued as the fight went on, but was able to stuff a takedown attempt from Crowder. However, he then made a critical error, blasting his opponent with a knee while he was still grounded. Crowder slumped to the canvas and referee Dan Miragliotta stepped in immediately to pause the action. With Crowder unable to continue, the fight was waved off and the New York crowd showed their displeasure with chants of ‘asshole, asshole’.
Some will determine the illegal strike to be another indication of Hardy’s character. While that might be true, it could also be the inexperience of a man with just over two minutes total cage time as a professional prior to this fight.
Paige VanZant vs Rachael Ostovich
The second fight on the main card was an emotionally charged flyweight affair between Paige VanZant and Rachael Ostovich. Paige returning after a year-long layoff following a broken arm suffered in her last fight, and Ostovich had originally withdrawn from the event following the afore-mentioned domestic violence incident.
Rachael used her grappling skills to dominate early with four takedowns in the first round and the second round started in similar fashion. Ostovich landed an outside trip from a body lock, but VanZant was able to get back to her feet. In the ensuing scramble, she landed a beautiful rolling back take and worked away with ground strikes alternating between the mount and back control.
With VanZant on her back, Ostovich tried to escape out of the back door but ’12 Gauge’ latched on to an armbar and finished belly down, forcing the tap at 1:50 of the round.
- Henry Cejudo def. T.J. Dillashaw, TKO (punches) R1 0:32 to retain UFC Flyweight Championship
- Allen Crowder def. Greg Hardy, DQ (illegal knee) R2 2:28
- Gregor Gillespie def. Yancy Medeiros, TKO (punches) R2 4:59
- Joseph Benavidez def. Dustin Ortiz, Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Paige VanZant def. Rachael Ostovich, Submission (armbar) R2 1:50
- Glover Teixeira def. Karl Roberson, Submission (arm triangle choke) R1 3:21
- Donald Cerrone def. Alexander Hernandez, TKO (head kick and punches) R2 3:43
- Joanne Calderwood def. Ariane Lipski, Unanimous Decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-27)
- Alonzo Menifield def. Vinicius Moreira, TKO (punches) R1 3:56
- Cory Sandhagen def. Mario Bautista, Submission (armbar) R1 3:31
- Dennis Bermudez def. Te Edwards, Unanimous Decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-26)
- Geoff Neal def. Belal Muhammad, Unanimous Decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
- Chance Rencountre def. Kyle Stewart, Submission (rear-naked choke) R1 2:25