T.J. Dillashaw left no doubt as to who the best at bantamweight in the Ultimate Fighting Championship is as he torched hated rival Cody Garbrandt in the main event of UFC 227 Saturday night at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
The two enemies traded low kicks early but once Dillashaw slipped during an exchange, “No Love” opened up with a flurry of punches. Dillashaw waded through the attack and, just like in their first match, blasted Garbrandt with a counter right cross to the jaw. Garbrandt (11-2) stumbled and once Dillashaw knew his foe was rocked, he unloaded an endless stream of punches on the ground and against the cage.
Finally, after a knee and follow-up punches rubberized Garbrandt, referee Herb Dean intervened, ending the fight officially at 4:10 of the first to allow Dillashaw (17-3) to retain his bantamweight title.
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Cejudo Dethrones Johnson
Henry Cejudo did the unthinkable Saturday night in the co-featured bout as he dethroned Demetrious Johnson. Cejudo fought tooth and nail with his rival from start to finish and wound up winning the battle via split decision.
Cejudo, a 2008 Olympic gold medalist, was on wobbly legs in the first but eventually overcame an injury to his lower leg to score multiple takedowns in the bout. Johnson (27-3-1) landed several stinging leg kicks and counter punches to the head, but Cejudo (13-2) never strayed from his gameplan and dragged the defending champion to the canvas on multiple occasions.
Every round was as close as they come, but two of the three judges favored Cejudo’s attacks and turned in scorecards of 48-47. “Mighty Mouse” was given the same score by the third judge. Cejudo ended Johnson’s 11-fight title reign atop the flyweight division.
‘Moicano’ Continues to Impress
Featherweight contender Renato Carneiro (13-1-1) looked sensational on Saturday night as he torched longtime veteran and fan favorite Cub Swanson.
After taking several leg kicks and a few solid punches upstairs, “Moicano” floored the American with a stiff left jab. Carneiro nearly finished Swanson with follow-up punches on top, but he had to wait until Swanson scrambled awkwardly off the canvas before he sealed his fate.
Swanson inadvertently gave up his back and the Brazilian immediately latched onto it and sunk in a textbook rear-naked choke. Swanson (25-10) couldn’t escape and had to bow out with taps at 4:15 of the first.
Aldrich Takes Two Rounds From Viana
“TUF 23” alum J.J. Aldrich looked superb on her feet against Polyana Viana (10-2) as she peppered her for three rounds en route to a unanimous decision win.
Viana, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu savant, was never able to get her submission game going as Aldrich kept things on the feet for the majority of the contest. The Denver fighter stuck Viana in the face repeatedly due to the Brazilian’s porous defense and wound up winning 29-28 (twice) and 29-27 to improve to 7-2.
Santos Denies Holland
UFC newcomer Kevin Holland was unfazed by the status and power of Thiago Santos coming in.
Holland backed up all of his trash talk before and during the fight, but his performance inside the Octagon came up just short. Santos used his experience on the bigger stage to maintain control of the bout and inflict plenty of damage onto the Californian. Santos hurt Holland with punches and kicks on the feet and delivered enough ground-and-pound on the canvas to dominate much of the fight.
Holland kept things entertaining by flailing with wild attacks throughout, but Santos stayed poised and dished out much more damage. In the end, Santos (18-6) won the middleweight affair unanimously with scores of 29-27 (twice) and 29-26. Holland fell to 13-4.
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