The ordering process for Ultimate Fighting Championship pay-per-views has changed: UFC 241 is only available on ESPN+ in the U.S.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship on Saturday returned to Anaheim, California, as it brought UFC 241 to the Honda Center. Some stocks rose and others fell.
Stipe Miocic: The Strong Style Fight Team standout shocked the world with his come-from-behind knockout of Daniel Cormier, as he regained the heavyweight title in a performance that saw Miocic adjust on the fly. After being outgunned by Cormier for three-plus rounds, Miocic turned up the pressure and began implementing a thunderous lead hook to Cormier’s body that quickly wore on the two-time Olympic wrestler. The body blows set up the knockout for Miocic and put the Ohio native back on the heavyweight throne. After sitting out for more than a year, Miocic received the rematch he believed he deserved and made good on his promise to reclaim the title.
Nate Diaz: Proving that ring rust is not an issue for the truly elite, Diaz put on a performance for the ages in the co-main event and took home a dominant decision win in his return to action against Anthony Pettis. The longtime Cesar Gracie protege got going early, put pressure on Pettis from the start and refused to relent. By the middle of the second round, it became evident that Pettis simply could not keep the pace at which Diaz was operating and slowly began to wilt, eating boxing combinations and slicing elbows with his back against the cage. The appearance was Diaz’s first since 2016 and put him in position to pursue more high-profile opportunities. He called for a showdown with Jorge Masvidal -- a fight that would be main event-worthy with or without a championship on the line.
Paulo Henrique Costa: Many were hesitant to anoint Costa as a title contender after he posted four consecutive finishes to star his UFC career, but after he emerged victorious over Yoel Romero in a three-round war, he figures to have few doubters moving forward. Costa stayed true to what brought him to the dance and combined pressure with volleys of power punches to outwork the 2000 Olympic silver medalist and perhaps punch his ticket to a title shot against the Robert Whittaker-Israel Adesanya winner.
Anthony Pettis: In what was Pettis’ most significant opportunity since his UFC title win in 2013, “Showtime” came up short. The pace and pressure Diaz brought, exacerbated by an ankle injury, proved to be his downfall and cost him the momentum he had built when he knocked out Stephen Thompson in his electric welterweight debut. Pettis may have a difficult time earning another big-money fight at this stage of his career -- he turns 33 in January -- and the depth of the 170-pound weight class figures to do him no favors.
Ian Heinisch: The former Legacy Fighting Alliance champion learned that he was not quite ready for a jump to elite competition, as he was saddled with his first UFC loss against Derek Brunson in a bout that exposed his lack of experience at the highest level. Heinisch was aggressive from the opening bell, charged at his Brunson with lunging hooks and momentarily stunned the North Carolina native with a glancing head kick. However, after he failed to put Brunson away, Heinisch’s gas tank began to fail him and his game plan seemed to go out the window in favor of looking to land telegraphed knockout blows. Nevertheless, Heinisch remains one of the most successful graduates from Dana White’s Contender Series and figures to benefit from the setback in the long run.
Devonte Smith: Following a vicious knockout on Dana White’s Contender Series, Smith burst onto the scene in the lightweight division with consecutive KOs and established himself as a prospect worth monitoring. After two opponents fell through, Smith was presented with a short-notice opportunity against former training partner Khama Worthy -- a fight that proved to be a risk not worth taking. Smith fought out of character from the start, straying from his typical aggressive striking and opting instead to stick to the outside and chop away with leg kicks. In between exchanging unnecessary high fives with his opponent, Smith got caught with a shot behind the ear that put him down and out and sent the Factory X representative to the back of the line at 155 pounds.