We are now less than one week away from the title unification bout between interim champ Justin Gaethje and champ Khabib Nurmagomedov. But before this extraordinary event that has been built up for months, we still had one more fight night. This week’s main card unfortunately was not televised, airing exclusively on ESPN+. The event played second fiddle to Top Rank Boxing’s Lomachenko-Lopez event, but I don’t think there were any hard feelings about this, considering the magnitude of that unification fight.
On the main card, Jimmy Crute took on Modestas Bukauskas in a light heavyweight clash that promised to not go the distance. The fight got off to a slow start with Crute landing a low blow on Bukauskas. Bukauskas said he was ready to go while still grimacing, and action resumed. I don’t believe this affected the action, but a short minute later saw Bukauskas floored on the canvas, and Crute had earned his third first-round stoppage in four UFC wins.
In the co-main event, former strawweight champ Jessica Andrade made her flyweight debut against former title-challenger Katlyn Chookagian. Andrade is known for her bully-style offense, and she brought the fight to Chookagian from the opening bell. In the first round, Andrade did some outstanding work in the clinch and completed two takedowns. This game plan helped completely nullify the height and reach advantage of Chookagian. As the first round was coming to a close, Andrade rifled off a powerful body shot in the clinch, which sent Chookagian staggering backwards. Chookagian briefly cried out in pain, which could have been counted as a verbal submission, but when Andrade saw that the ref was not going to call off the action, she finished the job with another clean body shot at three seconds remaining in the round. With this win, Andrade became the first female fighter to earn victories in three different UFC weight classes.
In the main event, Brian Ortega returned after a two year layoff and faced “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung. This fight between two former title-challengers would determine the next featherweight title-challenger. Going into this fight, Ortega was best known for his ability to finish a fight when given the opportunity. Fans have joked for a long time that it’s possible that Ortega has never won a single round in the UFC except for the rounds where he earned the stoppage win. Across the cage, Zombie, who is known for his strong counter punching, was expected to have a significant advantage on the feet.
As it turns out, the majority of the fight took place standing, and it was Ortega who won every round in a unanimous decision. Not to take too much away from Ortega’s performance, but The Zombie did not look like himself throughout the fight, and he was constantly sniffling. Everyone who deals with bad allergies knows there are times that you would rather be in bed, and MMA isn’t exactly a sport that you want to be having a bad day. Ortega has completely rebuilt his offense and showed an impressive kickboxing display. After the fight Ortega said “ready or not” he is coming for champ Alexander Volkanovski.