Main Card ESPN
- Cain Velasquez vs. Francis Ngannou
Francis Ngannou defeated Cain Velasquez via knockout at 0:26 of round 1
First, I want to say thank you to the, fans, the event and ESPN. I want to dedicate this win to my aunt who passed away earlier. I promise you guys, I’m back, as I said before, I’m back. You will see me a lot, I hope you enjoyed it.
It was very fast, so I didn’t really realize what happened, it was very fast. I feel good, as I said I’m just here now to have fun, relax and enjoy my fights.
I’ve been waiting for this fight for three years. I wanted to prove myself against someone like Cain and I’m glad I had the opportunity.
- James Vick vs. Paul Felder
Paul Felder defeated James Vick via unanimous decision
The game plan was to not eat so many leg kicks, but actually use my kicks against him. I wanted to use my boxing and answer his kicks more, he seemed slow in there, so I felt good, but I did let him get away with too much. I felt good, it’s been a while since I’ve been able to pull off a decision. He seemed to think he could out point me so I’m glad I proved him wrong.
I think I’m a sick individual, just got done getting the crap beat out of me and going back and forth with one of the bigger guys in the division and now I want one of the toughest guys in the division. I understand I might not get that fight if Gaethje wants to go on and pursue the title if he beats a guy like Barboza. I’ve learned from broadcasting that you’ve got to go in there with some names and go in there with a motive so as soon as they gave me the mic I knew there was a big lightweight fight coming up so I went for it. I’m only in this to work my way towards the title, this was that step for 2019, I’m already off to a better start than 2018.
- Cortney Casey vs. Cynthia Calvillo
Cynthia Calvillo defeated Cortney Casey via unanimous decision
The game plan for this fight was just have good offensive defense, be open and take advantage of anything she gives me. She could have surprised me with takedown, but she said she wanted to keep it standing and knock me out, so we wanted to test that and just make sure I had solid defense.
I love fighting and I want to fight the toughest person in the division and right now I think that’s Tatiana, she’s undefeated, nobody can figure it out and I love that. No one else wants to call her out or fight her but I want to be the best in the world and fight everyone, I’m not going to pick easy fights. I’m going to go for it right from the get-go and I want that challenge. I think that’s the fight to make, especially if it’s a title eliminator.
- Alex Caceres vs. Kron Gracie
Kron Gracie defeated Alex Caceres via choke at 2:06 of round 1
My jiu jitsu is unique, it comes from my dad. I’ve been training jiu jitsu for a lifetime but always with the intention for MMA, it doesn’t give a break for anyone. It’s different than sport jiu jitsu which is more based on points, I always go for the submission.
It’s about me training and doing what I love, I love to train, so might as well be competing because why waste that talent and hard work. I’ve been representing my family since I was a little kid, that was always my motivation. The older you get, you don’t need that as motivation anymore, it just becomes part of who you are. It was interesting, everyone reminded me that a Gracie hasn’t won since Royce and I felt more pressure from that, but I guess it’s time to live up to my name and stay cool under pressure. We got one back for the family, one back for my team, one back for the Diaz team and that’s it.
- Vicente Luque vs. Bryan Barberena
I felt the fight was very close, I wasn’t sure I was taking it in the third round, I didn’t want to leave it to the judges. He was a tough guy, I tried the rear naked choke and darce and he got out of them both so I knew I had to knock him out, so I got those knees in and got it done.
I have my eyes on Neil Magny right now, he’s a tough guy and a ranked guy, so I would love to fight him. I have no doubt I deserve a ranked guy, I have eight wins now in the UFC, all by knock out or submission. Usually I win at the beginning of the fight but now I showed I can go three rounds so I’m ready for anyone.
- Andre Fili vs. Myles Jury
Andre Fili defeated Myles Jury via unanimous decision
I’ve been doing this since I’ve been 14, I’m 28 now so I’ve basically been doing this longer than I haven’t been doing it, almost my whole life. The passion is just not always going to be there for something, whether it’s a person or a career or whatever. What keeps you in the gym is the discipline when the passion is gone, there was a time that I was just treating it like a job, so I just feel so much better now that I remember it’s not just a job, this is all I wanted to when I was a kid.
I figured it would be 1-to-1 going into the third because of the spinning back fist. I was completely fine, but the judges can’t know that obviously. I knew that third round would be crucial because judging can be weird even though I felt like I won 90 percent of the fight. I just had to get back to what I was doing in that first round. The second was fun with us talking trash and spitting blood, but you don’t win fights like that, so I had to get it together and go back to what I do best.
Preliminary Card ESPN
- Aljamain Sterling vs. Jimmie Rivera
Aljamain Sterling defeated Jimmie Rivera via unanimous decision
The thing about grappling is that most people can’t keep up that pace, it’s tough to handle high level grappling and striking coming at you and transitioning between them like I do. I knew I’d be able to slow him down by pushing the grappling at first and get him tired and from there I felt like I could be a sniper and pick my shots more accurately. In the beginning everyone is dangerous, everyone has that knockout power so you have to take that away from them with a little grappling love and good things will happen.
The one guy I really wanted to fight is on the sidelines right now, he’s a legend of the sport, it would have been an honor to fight him. I’ve been calling him out for two fights now, but he’s hurt so I don’t want to do it now. I’m here to fight the guys who people say are the best in the division. I’m here to make money, I’m here to change my life, that’s why I got into the sport. I’m here to be a world champion.
- Benito Lopez vs. Manny Bermudez
Manny Bermudez defeated Benito Lopiz via darce choke at 3:09 of round 1
My grappling works the same way as a knockout punch or devasting kick, you have the right timing, placement and adjustments to make it work every time. Guys underestimate me, they go to jiu jitsu and think that’s enough to deal with me, but it’s not.
I would love to fight Sean O’Malley next. He’s a big name, up-and-coming kid just like me. He’s super popular but I think our styles match up in a way where I’d be able to take him out. Two undefeated kids fighting each other makes for the best fights, I don’t see why not. Two kids who are hungry and want it, dog eat dog and working super hard to show their skills, it’s better than a veteran just stomping people. O’Malley next and then we’ll see.
- Andrea Lee vs. Ashlee Evans-Smith
Andrea Lee defeated Ashlee Evans-Smith via unanimous decision
I’m very happy with this performance. In every performance I always see things that I do wrong and that I know I can always do better. As far as this performance, I feel happy and I’m very excited, I stuck to the game plan, I kept it standing and I kept it off the cage for the most part, I felt I did amazing.
My eye is on every single body in the top 10. I’m happy to be here and ready for another fight.
- Scott Holtzman vs. Nik Lentz
Nik Lentz defeated Scott Holtzman via unanimous decision
Nik Lentz transported to hospital for precautionary reasons
Early Prelims ESPN+
- Renan Barao vs. Luke Sanders
Luke Sanders defeated Renan Barao via TKO at 1:01 of round 2
This was an opportunity that only comes around once in a while, he’s a legend. To be able to fight a legend and, at one time, a pound-for-pound king, it’s a once in a lifetime thing. I came fully prepared and that’s exactly the outcome I was looking to have. I’m really grateful and glad that I pushed through the long road to get here. This camp was very hard and there were a couple of times that I didn’t think I would make it here.
The first round I was supposed to pressure a little more but he was still fresh and he’s a heavy dude with heavy kicks, so it was hard. I got my hands on him a little bit and wear on him, but it took a little while to adjust. Once we figured out where we were winning, I went out and implemented the game plan we had planned. I was able to turn the tables and do my thing and put him away and get that bonus I hope.
- Aleksandra Albu vs. Emily Whitmire
Emily Whitmire defeated Alexandra Albu via rear naked choke at 1:01 of round 1
“I feel amazing, I want to keep the ball rolling as quickly as possible. I had a lot of nerves going into this, I hurt my leg during my last sparing session so just the fact that I kept my mind together and still came out here and preformed was huge. I trained so hard for 10 weeks leading up to it, I wasn’t going to let anything stop me. “
“I definitely thought the wrestling and grappling was something I would be able to capitalize on. I’ve lost fights on the ground, but I don’t think people realize how good on my ground game really is. I knew that she had those holes and I knew I could exploit them. I saw a lot of flaws in her last fight and I thought she even lost that fight so I knew I could come in here and put her away. “
Fight of the Night: Luque vs. Barberena
Performances of the Night: Sanders, Gracie