Both the co-main and main events tonight showcase No. 3 & No. 4 contenders, with a former champion in each bout.
Headlining the event is an incredible bantamweight clash between top contenders Rob Font (No. 3) and former champion Cody Garbrandt (No. 4). We’ve all been anticipating this fight since it was booked.
Garbrandt defeated the greatest bantamweight to ever do it, Dominick Cruz, back at UFC 207 to claim the UFC bantamweight championship. This improved his record to just 11-0. However, he’d lose the title to TJ Dillashaw in his very next bout, before losing to him again in a rematch. He then lost to Pedro Munhoz, falling from 11-0 to 11-3.
All three of those defeats came via knockout, making him winless for nearly four years, up until he fought Raphael Assuncao in June of last year, securing a Knockout of the Year candidate at the end of round two.
Font, like Garbrandt, is a great striker, primarily with his punches. They both have good kicks to go along with it, but both of them have incredibly dangerous hands. The Massachusetts native has won his last three-straight over the likes of Sergio Pettis (UD), Ricky Simon (UD), and Marlon Moraes (KO).
Font also has some other great wins, but those are of course his most recent. Not too bad aye? A Bellator world champion, a former two-time LFA champion, and a former six-time WSOF champion.
Co-headlining the event is a bout coming in the women’s strawweight division, as No. 3 ranked Yan Xiaonan takes on former champion, No. 4 ranked Carla Esparza. If Xiaonan wins this fight, she’ll climb to 7-0 inside the octagon, and it’ll be her fourth victory over a top ten opponent.
If Esparza wins, it’ll be her fifth-straight, extending her longest win streak inside the octagon by three.
Official Result: Carla Esparza def. Yan Xiaonan via TKO (elbows & punches) at 2:58 of round two
Xiaonan comes out aggressive throwing heavy punches and gets double legged ten seconds into the fight.
She gets back up for a split second, before she’s tossed back to the mat. Xiaonan is expending a lot of energy trying to get up, but is unable to and allows Esparza into her side control.
Xiaonan doesn’t seem to have any answer from the bottom. Esparza isn’t doing much from the top aside from landing some rabbit punches, but it’s enough to keep the referee from standing it up. She did however start reigning down some heavier ground-and-pound as the round came to a halt.
This was an incredibly dominant round one for the former champion, who had over four minutes of top control and landed 101 total strikes over the first five minutes.
Xiaonan came out more cautious to start the second, but Esparza still dropped for a single leg 30 seconds in and secured it. Her wrestling is just too strong for the Chinese No. 3 contender.
Esparza secures a mounted crucifix two minutes into round two and gets the stoppage via elbows not long after.
This was as dominant of a victory as the former champion could’ve had. She opened Xiaonan up with an elbow from top position in round one, and re-opened it in round two once she secured the finishing position.
Esparza has now won her last five-straight, and she just secured the first finish of her UFC career since her promotional debut, where she submitted Rose Namajunas to capture the inaugural UFC women’s strawweight championship.
That was in 2014, it’s been a while since she’d finished an opponent. To say the least, things are looking pretty good for her. We might end up seeing Rose Namajunas versus Carla Esparza II soon.
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I became a fan of combat sports when I was 12 years old. I was scrolling through the channels and landed upon versus, where WEC was televised. Urijah Faber fought Jens Pulver for the second time that night. That’s the first fight I saw, and the fight that got me hooked on the sport. Since then, the sport has grown so rapidly, and my goal is to enlighten everyone on what’s going on in the sport today.