Saturday night did not disappoint, and 10 of the event’s 14 fights did not go the distance. To kick off the main card, Kevin Holland and Darren Stewart delivered the action with a fast-paced contest. Holland was the better of the two when the fight was standing, and he outstruck his opponent in each round. Toward the middle of the final round, Holland began to tire and Stewart was able to take control. The fight ended in somewhat comic fashion with Stewart taunting his opponent by repeatedly cheering, “C’mon Kevin” in between punching his grounded opponent. When the judges scorecards were read and Holland was declared the winner, Stewart looked horrified. Had Stewart skipped the taunting and slightly increased his output during the waning seconds, he might have been awarded a stoppage win.
At the beginning of her fight, Mackenzie Dern threw a high-kick, which hit nothing but air, and fell to the canvas. Randa Markos tried to capitalize on her opponent’s slip and jumped on top of Dern. Unfortunately for Markos, Dern reversed the position and put her jiu jitsu on display. Dern secured an armbar and Markos was forced to tap. After back-to-back first round finishes, the young Dern has shown she has great potential, and her fan base continues to grow.
Johnny Walker and Ryan Spann produced a chaotic three-minute bout. Spann landed a clean left which floored Walker. Spann mounted his opponent and landed half a dozen more hard blows. Walker somehow escaped this position and managed to get back to his feet. Seconds later, a punch from Spann floored Walker again; however, in the ensuing moments, Walker got back to his feet, Spann crashed to the feet of Walker and Walker landed heavy elbows on Spann until the referee called off the fight. The replay showed that Spann and Walker had simultaneously landed to each other’s chins but it took a few seconds before Spann lost his balance. Spann put Walker in a lot of trouble, but Walker is now back in the win column.
In the next fight of the night, Khamzat Chimaev picked up his third win in as many months. The 26-year-old added to his highlight reel with a 17 second one-punch knockout. I would say he put the whole division on notice, but we still do not know which division the young phenom will call home. In his first three UFC appearances Chimaev has alternated between fighting in both the middleweight and welterweight divisions. This most recent win comes in the middleweight division, but next month he will fight Demian Maia, the No. 7 ranked welterweight. Chimaev’s hype train is now moving at rocket speed, and fight fans are completely in awe.
In the co-main event, Niko Price and Donald Cerrone slugged it out for the full 15 minutes. The fight was unfortunately marred by repeated eye poke stoppages. The action had to be stopped four times for eye poke fouls by Price. Price was penalized one point in the first round for eye pokes, and there is a strong argument to be made that the referee should have deducted a second point in the third. Eye pokes have been a frequent problem in the UFC, and so far there are no official talks of a solution. There was also a brief stoppage during the main event for an inadvertent eye poke. The co-main event went to the judges’ scorecards, and was declared a draw.
In the main event, Colby Covington showed how extremely talented he is in the Octagon. He was cruising to a lopsided decision against former champ Tyron Woodley, until Woodley yelled out in pain and clutched his ribs. The yell counts as a verbal tap and the fight was waved off. Woodley’s performance was abysmal, and he would have lost every round on the judges’ scorecards. After the fight, UFC President Dana White made it clear that he believes Woodley should retire. Covington had an incredible performance in which he landed around 75% of his strikes as well as three takedowns. This win puts Covington immediately back in title contention after losing to welterweight champion Kamaru Usman at the end of last year. During the post fight press conference, Covington received a call from President Donald Trump, who shared his congratulations on the win.