Amanda Nunes, the first woman to be awarded two titles in UFC history.What was billed as arguably the biggest fight in women’s mixed martial arts history quickly became arguably the biggest upset in women’s mixed martial arts history on Saturday night. Amanda Nunes needed under a minute to brutally batter and knock out the long-reigning Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino Venâncio and hand the dominant featherweight her first MMA loss since 2005 in their championship bout.
In doing so, Nunes also became the first woman to hold two UFC belts (Bantamweight and Featherweight) at the same time and cemented herself firmly atop the list of greatest female fighters of all time. A stunned arena roared with applause as the bawling Nunes held her head in disbelief and screamed “I fucking did it!” to anyone within earshot, and even the diehard fans of the Huntington Beach-based Cyborg had to admit that Nunes’ performance was worthy of the moment.
And that wasn’t even the biggest fight of the night.
In the main event, self-sabotaging UFC light heavyweight legend Jon Jones proved that regardless of the controversy that seems to follow him outside of the cage, he’s unquestionably the best MMA fighter in history. Coming off of a 17-month layoff (since defeating Daniel Cormier in Anaheim last July), Jones was expected to be tested and pushed to the limit once again by Alexander Gustafsson— the Swedish striker who gave Jones the toughest fight of his career back in 2013.
What played out instead was just over 10 minutes of absolute control and domination by Jones, After using excellent tactical striking and footwork to conservatively limit Gustafsson’s offense and movement through the first two rounds, the light heavyweight champion secured the takedown and finished with a ground and pound TKO in the third.
Not only was it an impressive performance by the 31-year-old fighter, but it also added to his stacked legacy by capturing the 205 lb. title for the fourth time (after having it stripped for failed drug tests and/or personal issues the last three times). Even with 2017’s knockout of Cormier now considered a “No Contest” due to Jones failing a drug test, Southern California’s MMA fans couldn’t ask for much more than seeing back-to-back career-defining moments from an athlete who’s essentially one giant highlight reel.
Outside of the two championship fights, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialist Ryan Hall became the first man to ever submit former lightweight and welterweight champion (and UFC Hall of Famer) B.J. Penn — reigniting calls for Penn to retire after his 6th loss in a row and 8th in his last 10 fights. The slick roll into a heel hook would easily be a top contender for Submission of the Year had most publications not already released their annual winners.
Knockout artist Uriah Hall had one of the most emotional moments of the night, as he tearfully dedicated his devastating comeback victory over Bevon Lewis to his sister before thanking Master Rafael Cordeiro of Huntington Beach’s Kings MMA for working with him in preparation for this fight.
The now-welterweight Michael Chiesa topped one of his MMA heroes when he submitted Carlos Condit with a beautiful one-handed shoulder lock, and torches continued to be passed when the young Alexander Volkanovski knocked out his established doppelganger, Chad Mendes, who then surprisingly announced his retirement after the bout.
Although there weren’t many truly local fighters on the card (since it was supposed to be in Vegas less than a week before it occurred), Riverside’s Andre Ewell also took his first UFC loss when he was choked out by England’s Nathaniel Wood.
Josh Chesler used to play baseball for some pretty cool teams, but now he just writes about awesome stuff like tattoos, music, MMA and sneakers. He enjoys injuring himself by skateboarding, training for fights, and playing musical instruments in his off time.