Women's Bantamweight Championship Fight: Amanda Nunes vs Ronda Rousey
Ronda Rousey - after more than a year out - is back!
Perhaps slightly unusual to see Rousey come out first, but that hasn't robbed the audience of their welcoming gusto. She looks calm and focused, but one can't help but wonder if the year off would have affected her adversely.
Does she have ring rust? How is she faring, mentally, after that devastating knockout at the hands (feet) of Holly Holm?
We won't have to wait long to find out, as Amanda Nunes makes her entrance.
Bruce Buffer announces the two fighters. No prizes for guessing who the audience is firmly behind.
This is more like the Ronda Rousey that we know - amped up and ready to go. Much will be proven in the next 25 minutes. (if it even goes that long)
A chance for redemption for one, a chance for etching her name in the history books for another. Let's go!
They come out swinging! Amanda Nunes means business as she comes out throwing vicious jabs.
Ronda literally doesn't know what hit her, right from the first punch! Ronda is hurt by the very first punch, as she stumbles away.
Amanda Nunes comes after her, lighting her up "like a christmas tree", in Rogan's words.
Ronda Rousey doesn't have any answer to this onslaught! All it takes is 48 seconds of Round 1 for the referee to deem that Ronda Rousey just doesn't have the answer to Nunes.
Left hook, right hook, lead straight! Rousey has absolutely no clue what hit her. This is arguably the end of Rousey's career.
You could see it in her eyes. She was dejected when Herb Dean stopped the fight. Her eyes betrayed the fact that this was it.
Goodbye Ronda. It's been a pleasure.
Amanda Nunes, what a champion she is turning out to be!
Result: Amanda Nunes def. Ronda Rousey via TKO in 0:48 seconds in Round 1
Bantamweight Title Bout: Dominick Cruz vs. Cody Garbrandt
The Champion comes out as he usually does, fluid and switching stances, and is taunted by the challenger who feigns and switches his stances too, as if in reply. Garbrandt continues to taunt and gesture at Cruz everytime he is close to landing.
The Challenger keeps landing leg kicks to keep the Dominator at bay. Cruz lands a huge takedown but No Love immediately scrambles to his feet.
Cody takes Cruz down, which is a rarity and continues to stick his tongue out as the round comes to an end. The challenger finishes the round looking the better of the two men.
Garbrandt's movement seems fantastic and composed as Cruz chases him with a combination that lands partially. No Love catches Cruz but the Champion immediately replies with a hard right that could have wobbled the challenger.
Cruz continues to employ his false starts to close the distance while the challenger looks to catch him on the counter. No Love lands a huge left hook but Cruz seems to eat with no issues. Garbrandt continues to work the leg and the body with kicks but remains unsuccessful with lunging right hands that Cruz slips with characteristic ease.
Cruz lands a good counter right hand after Garbrandt attempts another leg kick. The round ends after a flurry from both fighters. The Champion looks like took this round as the two men return to their corners.
Both men come out swinging and No Love lands hard twice. A headbutt during the initial exchange cuts the champion above his left eye. Cruz is bleeding profusely and Garbrandt lands another. The challenger continues to taunt Cruz and maintains distance, while he continues to look for composed counter strikes.
Cruz attempts a wild right that the 25-year-old slips with ease. Garbrandt shows some excellent head movement and evades a four-punch combination and sticks his tongue out. Cruz continues to lunge in and finally connect with a right but doesn't seem to hurt Garbrandt.
No Love looks confident as he starts the round confidently and both men begin with another flurry of exchanges. Garbrandt lands a huge right hook that drops Cruz, who immediately gets back to his feet and looks largely untroubled. The Champion continues to switch stances and maintain his composure.
Garbrandt's head movement continues to be spectacular as Cruz just can't seem to land. Cruz attempts a lazy head kick that the challenger avoids with ease. Cruz continues to switch stances and feint to try and set up an attack but to no avail. Garbrandt lands a heavy right hook that drops Cruz again but not for long as the Champ get backs up. Cruz goes back to the corner looking like the worse of the two.
Cruz needs to finish this fight as the fifth round begins, and Garbradt lands a good kick to the face as Cruz leans to the side. Cruz attempts a flying knee that is quashed by the challenger with ease. Garbrandt continues to mock Cruz by dropping into a push-up position after the Champ lands a leg kick. Cruz attempts a takedown that is squished, followed by one from No Love which is also easily stopped.
Cruz continues to put pressure on the challenger looking for the finish but No Love forces him to the cage. Garbrandt lifts his hands in the air with five seconds remaining and the two men embrace as the fight comes to an end.
A surprisingly convincing and composed performance by the young Garbrandt, who seemed to out-Cruz Cruz through the fight.
Result: Cody Garbrandt def. Dominick Cruz via Unanimous Decision to win the Bantamweight Title. (48-46 48-47 48-47)
Dillashaw comes out, loose and fluid, giving Lineker different looks and snaps out a headkick that narrowly misses.
They scramble for a bit, up close with each other, before taking the fight back onto the feet where they continue measuring each other. TJ hits another headkick out of nowhere, which Lineker just eats like breakfast before catching the leg and taking TJ down.
It's TJ 's turn to scramble up, but no sooner do they get back up, TJ shoots for a takedown and maintains top position for a bit. Though he doesn't land big, it is still valuable control time here for the former Champion.
It's been all TJ this round, weaving in and out, and hitting Lineker from angles, though with nothing fight-changing. Lineker on the other hand, waits for TJ to get in range before wildly swinging in trademark fashion. Round 1 sounds to an end.
Round 2 and more of the same. TJ's movement allows him to pick off Lineker and get out before the Brazilian can return fire. He's also mixing in takedowns with impeccable timing, maintaining top control and landing a good number of shots from the top.
He's raining down with hammer fists and heavy elbows, but Lineker's hands aren't the only ones made out of stone, it would seem. He's taking punishment like it was Christmas came early, though it's apparent who is winning this fight.
TJ is bringing the whooping on Lineker here, but the Brazilian's chin is just holding out. Somehow. Those were around to 40 unanswered strikes to close out the round, leaving Lineker barely hanging on.
All TJ Dillashaw was Round 2.
TJ opens up with a front kick to the chest in Round 3, followed up with a beautifully set up body kick. He fakes another stance change and nails another takedown. The way Dillashaw has been mixing up his striking with his wrestling has been pretty masterful.
He maintains top position again, showering Lineker with the base of his fists before attempting an audacious calf crank. Lineker toughs it out, but only long enough to leave around a minute in the final round.
Lineker gets back up to his feet with a scramble, but he's not able to close the distance sufficiently on TJ to land any real power, leaving TJ to circle out and see out the clock.
Easy victory for TJ Dillashaw in a fight that he dominated.
Result: TJ Dillashaw def. John Lineker via UD (30-26,30-26,30-26)
Lineker lifts Dillashaw up sportingly as the victor is announced, and TJ makes the most of the moment to thank his coaches, before unleasing a verbal tirade on Dominick Cruz!
Welterweight Bout: Tarrec Saffedine vs Dong Hyun Kim
Dong Huyn Kim closes the distance right off the bat, with every intention to make this a grappling contest. Saffedine isn't backing away, as he floors Kim with a couple of exquisitely timed sweeps.
Kim is up in a jiffy, however, and almost like someone reminded them, they begin to stand and trade. Kim's hands-down, press-forward approach has Saffedine on the backfoot, but both fighters aren't making substantial inroads with their strikes.
They alternate between spates of wildish exchanges and clinch battles; a trend which is broken when Saffedine takes him down with another foot trip. The buzzer sounds for Round 1 - Saffedine should have edged that one by virtue of his takedowns.
Kim soldiers forward, hands down and head tucked in, and looks to initiate the clinch by tying Saffedine up against the cage to kick off Round 2. Saffedine is holding his own in these close-quarter exchanges.
Kim's pressure has been constant, but Saffedine has arguably had the more telling strikes and moments in the fight thus far. The crowd is getting a little restless here as the fight is increasingly becoming clinch-heavy.
They break briefly, and Saffedine manages to land a head kick that Kim eats. Kim is relentless in his smothering pressure, but it isn't yielding any substantial offense for the Korean.
They close out a largely uneventful round attempting to wing punches at each other, but like this fight, they have mostly been off the mark.
The buzzer signals Round 3. What.Is.Happening?
Both men are at each other's throats! Wildly throwing haymakers! Saffedine manages to glean some space and rattles Kim with another headkick! The crowd responds throatily to the action!
But hey, it proves to be no more than a short burst of energy as Kim goes back to his initial plan of pressuring Saffedine against the cage and holding him there.
"Over the years, Kim has the tendency to start fast and fade" - Mike Goldberg.
Never have truer words been spoken. Kim aimlessly plods forward at this point, neither effective in his offense nor securing a takedown. Saffedine, for his part, has been taken out of his element of comfort and made to brawl.
This has devolved into an ugly and edgy fight that is slightly boring to watch and certainly hard to score. The crowd boos to close out Round 3. Hmm.
Result: Dong Hyun Kim def.Tarrec Saffedine via SD (27-30, 29-28, 29-28)
What were the judges watching there? :O Then again, even I'm not sure!