UFC Fight Night results: Anderson, Spencer deliver; Nunes is ready


The largely dormant UFC women’s featherweight division got a shot in the arm Saturday night. Two of them, in fact.

Felicia Spencer put on a dominant performance in defeating Zarah Fairn by first-round ground-and-pound TKO in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night: Benavidez vs. Figueiredo in Norfolk, Virgina. And earlier in the evening at Chartway Arena, Megan Anderson knocked out previously unbeaten Norma Dumont with one punch in the first round.

The featherweight championship has not been defended since Amanda Nunes took it from Cris Cyborg in December 2018. Saturday set up an opportunity for either Spencer or Anderson to produce a victory impressive enough to earn a title shot. Both women put on strong performances, but Spencer has one edge: She owns a 2019 victory over Anderson.

After her fight, Spencer was asked how Saturday’s win might help her get a shot at Nunes. “I think it puts me in a perfect spot,” she said.

Nunes tweeted that she likes both contenders and it’s up to UFC president Dana White to choose.

Spencer (8-1), a former featherweight champion in the all-women Invicta FC promotion, bounced back from her first career defeat, a loss to Cyborg last July.

Fairn (6-4) was the oldest fighter on the card, at age 36, and also the biggest underdog. She held her own in the opening minutes, though, before Spencer took her to the canvas. From there it was nothing but vicious punches and elbows before the referee jumped in at 3:37.

Earlier, Anderson (11-4) crushed Dumont with a right hand to win via knockout at 3:31 of the first round.

Afterward, Anderson, who earned a performance-of-the-night bonus, made it clear she’d like a fight with Nunes.

“I’m the only featherweight that is on a win streak,” Anderson told interviewer Michael Bisping. “So let’s f—ing go!”

Dumont attempted to keep the powerful 6-foot Anderson contained by pushing her against the cage and going for takedowns. It worked early, but Anderson was able to get separation and land that dynamite right hand.

“It was a perfect right hand,” Anderson said. “I have a lot of power, and people know that. I’m finally glad I’m able to showcase that.”

Anderson, a 30-year-old Aussie, has won two straight and three of her past four fights.

Dumont, a 29-year-old Brazilian, made her UFC debut.

— Wagenheim and Raimondi

Watch Spencer’s win on ESPN+.

Watch Anderson’s win on ESPN+.

Flyweight: Deiveson Figueiredo (18-1) defeats Joseph Benavidez (28-6) by second-round KO

Deiveson Figueiredo added to the turbulent history of the UFC men’s flyweight division Saturday by winning a title fight in which he was not eligible to capture the belt.

Figueiredo opened up a cut on Joseph Benavidez’s forehead, possibly on a clash of heads, and knocked him out with a straight right hand at 1 minute, 54 seconds of Round 2 at Chartway Arena in Norfolk, Virginia.

Read the entire story.

Light heavyweight: Magomed Ankalaev (13-1) defeats Ion Cutelaba (15-5) by first-round TKO

This one could have ended before it started. Then it did end almost as soon as it started.

Cutelaba walked across the Octagon during introductions and got in Ankalaev’s face before security personnel could intervene. The fighters were separated, and the fight started.

Then it was Ankalaev’s time to go to work. He went right after Cutelaba and wobbled him with a left head kick. He landed another, and Cutelaba wobbled again. Ankalaev kept launching kicks and Cutelaba kept wobbling while trying to return fire with wild overhand rights, all missing.

Then, when Ankalaev threw another head kick and Cutelaba wobbled once more, referee Kevin MacDonald jumped in and ended it by KO at just 38 seconds.

Cutelaba immediately protested, and the fans booed.

Replays showed that some of Ankalaev’s head kicks had missed. But Cutelaba was unsteady on his feet from the moment he absorbed the first kick to the head.

MacDonald could very well have ended the fight even sooner — by DQ, after Cutelaba went at his opponent before the fight had started. But the fight went on … for about half a minute.

“All I can say is that I hurt him,” Ankalaev said. “I connected the high kick and he was wobbling and the referee stepped in to stop the fight, that’s all I have.

“I talked to Ion and he was complaining about the decision, but I just said the ref was doing his job. Ion said it was all going to plan, I don’t know what he meant. I don’t need the rematch, but if the UFC makes it, then I will accept. I don’t turn down fights.”

— Wagenheim

Men’s featherweight: Grant Dawson (15-1) defeats Darrick Minner (24-11) by first-round rear-naked choke

Minner, an expert in the guillotine, worked for choke after choke after choke. None of them worked out. In the end, it was actually Dawson who cinched in the decisive squeeze.

Dawson got Minner’s back and locked in a rear-naked choke at 1:38 of the second round for the submission win.

Minner was clearly exhausted after expending so much energy going for guillotines in the first and early in the second. The first round belonged to Minner and his aggressive style of looking for submissions. Minner tried to snatch Dawson in a guillotine four separate times and also had two armbar attempts. Dawson said after the bout that he didn’t have any fear of Minner’s squeeze, because his coach James Krause has one of the best guillotines and he’d “been there a thousand times.”

“The thing that went through my head was I’m about to take a nap,” Dawson said. “I’m not tapping in here if it’s a choke.”

Dawson was able to mount Minner at the end of the first, take his back and lock in a choke right at the bell. That was foreshadowing for the second round when a tired Minner jumped for a guillotine, Dawson escaped and found his way to Minner’s back again. This time, the bell didn’t save Minner.

“He grabbed my neck and scared me a couple of times, but I’m good,” Dawson said.

Dawson came in 3-1/2 pounds overweight Friday for the featherweight contest. Less than two weeks ago, Dawson was cleared to fight by the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC), which had flagged Dawson’s out-of-competition drug testing results. Dawson had already been cleared because of the nature of his positive tests — for the long-term metabolite of the steroid oral Turinabol, like Jon Jones. USADA, the UFC’s anti-doping partner had cleared Dawson after an investigation determined there was no recent ingestion. And the NSAC followed suit, pending further drug testing through June.

Dawson, 26, is a top prospect in the featherweight division. The Missouri resident has won six straight, including his first three in the UFC. Dawson has three featherweight wins since the beginning of 2019, tied for the most in the division with Sodiq Yusuff, Arnold Allen and Dan Ige.

“There’s always things I can take away from a fight to get better, but I think that was a pretty flawless performance,” Dawson said. “He got me in a guillotine real quick and I felt that squeeze, but I’m not a quitter and I got out of there.”

Minner, a 29-year-old Nebraska native, was making his UFC debut. He had a two-fight winning streak snapped.

— Raimondi

Watch this fight on ESPN+

Fight of the night

Men’s bantamweight: Kyler Phillips (7-1) defeats Gabriel Silva (8-2) by unanimous decision

Phillips won in his UFC debut with the third decision win of his career. It was back-to-back wins after suffering his only loss in Oct. 2018.

“That kid was tough. I knew he would try to wrestle me, but I let him do it a little bit so I could feel his energy, and then I hit him with some big shots,” Phillips said. “I felt like I could finish him, but I tired myself out a little bit in the first round. I knew I would have him in the second and third, though, and win those wrestling matches and jiu jitsu transactions.

“I kept him busy with movement and jabs, he’s tough, but I just kept at it and focused on winning the grappling matches. I hadn’t fought in over a year, so I knew that would be the perfect fight for me. I got to grapple a lot, had some Muay Thai and karate stuff, good hard boxing and ground and pound, so I needed that to get back in this game. He hit me with a good right hand and that knee bar was close, but he was never going to finish it, I would let it break first.”

Watch this fight on ESPN+.

Middleweight: Brendan Allen (14-3) defeats Tom Breese (11-2) by TKO in the first round

Much of the anticipation for this middleweight prelim dwelled on Breese, a one-time prospect from Great Britain who was returning to the Octagon after an absence of nearly two years. But his return did not last very long as Allen took charge on the canvas and beat up Breese on his way to a ground-and-pound TKO finish at 4:47 of Round 1.

Allen won his sixth straight fight, the past two in the UFC. He was not expecting Breese to try to take him down.

“I was really surprised,” he said. “I thought we’d be out here for a war, especially in the first round.

“I hit him with the body kick, and that made him move back a little and he shot from there. If he wants to go to the ground, that’s fine with me. When I was on top, I just kept hitting him and found the openings. I took my time, but he wasn’t moving, so I just unloaded until they stopped me.”

Allen wants to get back into the Octagon during the International Fight Week card in Las Vegas in July, preferably against Trevin Giles, who won earlier in the month.

“Please,” he said. “Let me get this fight.”

“Hopefully I have a lot of fans tune in now, hopefully I get a big boost in my following, and hopefully the bosses realize that I’m someone who can make an impact in this division.”

— Wagenheim

Watch this fight on ESPN +.

Heavyweight: Marcin Tybura (18-6) defeats Serghei Spivac (10-2) by unanimous decision

Tybura snapped a two-fight losing streak and picked up his first win since July 22, 2018. He cashed in as a slight underdog at -110 as Spivac was -120.

Spivac fell to 1-2 in the UFC after starting his MMA career 9-0.

Watch this fight on ESPN+.

Lightweight: Luis Pena (8-2-0) defeats Steve Garcia (11-4-0) by unanimous decision

He’s not just a fun nickname. Peña is known as “Violent Bob Ross,” but he was more patient and technical than violent in taking apart his short-notice opponent, a bantamweight making his UFC debut at lightweight on five days notice.

Garcia had his moments in the opening minute, landing some crisp punches, then taking down Peña. But once the fighters were on the mat, Peña took over. He secured back control and a body triangle, then fished for a submission for the rest of the round.

Peña, who recently shifted his training affiliation from American Kickboxing Academy in California to American Top Team in Florida, used the body triangle in Rounds 2 and 3 as well, but Garcia fended off all of his submission tries and even landed some backward elbows. But the result was clear: 30-27 on all three scorecards.

“I’m happy with the win, but that’s not the way that I like to do it,” Peña said. “This is my job, this is my career, and I want to put on a show for the fans. Sometimes, when you are in that situation, you have to do what you have to do, but I’m an entertainer. I like when people tell me that they like watching me fight, and I wouldn’t want to watch that fight, you know?

“As much as I’d like to say that the last-minute change in opponents messed with me, once I got in there it was just a fight. It was a big stylistic change and we had to redo the game plan on the fly, but I can’t use that as an excuse. There was definitely a time when I had his back that I thought, ‘Forget this, let me push off and stand this thing up and bang,’ but then I got back in myself and focused on winning. As much as I want to entertain, I want to win and I need to make that money.”

— Wagenheim

Watch this fight on ESPN+.

Men’s featherweight: Jordan Griffin (18-7) defeats TJ Brown (11-7) by guillotine choke

Griffin couldn’t get the submission with two choke attempts in the first round, and it wasn’t necessarily looking good in the second as Brown had side control. But Griffin, who earned a performance-of-the-night bonus, impressively was able to cinch in a guillotine from his back to end the fight.

“He kept giving me his neck, because he kept dipping down for that double-leg,” Griffin said. “I love that choke, that’s one of my go-to submissions. As soon as I locked it in, I knew it was over and that he was out. That’s my black-belt killer right there.”

It was the 14th finish in 18 wins for Griffin, and it snaps a two-fight losing streak.

Brown’s three-fight win streak was snapped.

Watch this fight on ESPN+.

Men’s featherweight: Spike Carlyle (9-1) defeats Aalon Cruz (8-3) by first-round TKO

Cruz had a seven-inch reach advantage, but Carlyle landed a left head kick that wobbled Cruz. Carlyle added a left elbow and then a flurry of strikes to end the bout. Cruz’s manager Daniel Rubenstein tweeted after the fight there will be an appeal because of what he viewed as an illegal 12-to-6 elbow to the back of Cruz’s head.

Carlyle was a +150 underdog and extended his win streak to five in his UFC debut.

Cruz had a four-fight win streak snapped with his first KO/TKO loss.

“The finish came early, but I’m known for that, I’m a fast starter and I ended it with an exclamation point,” Carlyle said. “I’m happy about that and hopefully I get rewarded for it.

“I really enjoyed walking out and seeing all the fans. That was a great experience, and I can’t wait to fight on a main card and really get the full force and enjoy that energy.”

Watch this fight on ESPN+.

Welterweight: Sean Brady (12-0) defeats Ismail Naurdiev (19-4) by unanimous decision

Brady makes an eye-catching first impression with a huge back tattoo he says is an image of a Japanese hunting mask, and he made an even stronger impression in the cage with a dominant win.

Naurdiev, 23, was voted one of the top 25 MMA fighters under the age of 25, but Brady, 27, used his wrestling to gain control in the second round and he had Naurdiev’s back in the third. Brady nearly finished the fight with a late guillotine, but Naurdiev was able to survive the submission attempt.

Brady, who cashed in as a +100 underdog, remains undefeated overall, including a 2-0 record in the UFC.

“Strategy going in was definitely to use my grappling,” Brady said. “I was trying to feel him out a bit at the beginning, he came out hot, I didn’t come out as fast as I wanted to and didn’t get the take down. I knew he would start to slow down because he throws a lot of big, explosive stuff, so I knew I’d be able to take over in the second and third rounds and impose my grappling.

“I’m a way better grappler than I am a striker, and I’m a pretty good striker. I’m looking forward to improving and showing off new skills each time. A couple hundred people drove down from Philly, so it was nice to hear that crowd so early on in the night. If the UFC wants to keep fighting me on the East coast, I’ll bring crowds in all day long. I’d like a bigger name now.”

Watch this fight on ESPN+.

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