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Amanda Nunes continues to bolster her reputation as the greatest female fighter of all time.
The two-division champion successfully defended her featherweight crown for the first time, cruising to a lopsided unanimous decision triumph over Felicia Spencer in the UFC 250 headliner at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas on Saturday night. Nunes secured scorecards of 50-44, 50-44 and 50-45 in victory, and it wasn’t even that close.
Spencer spent the majority of the fight paralyzed in the face of her ruthless adversary, with toughness alone keeping her afloat. Nunes (20-4, 13-1) gradually turned the matchup into her own personal showcase. She reddened Spencer’s eye with an initial right hand, and over the course of the bout, “Lioness” continued to tag her foe with more powerful punches to the head that might have felled a lesser woman. Every time Spencer (8-2, 2-2 UFC) attempted to come forward, Nunes made her back up with yet another blow. And if Spencer forced the clinch, Nunes took her foe down with ease.
“I know she’s very tough,” Nunes said. “I know what she’s capable of. If I have to go five rounds, I have to be dominant — sharp as a cactus.” By the fourth frame, Spencer appeared to be living on borrowed time, as Nunes locked in a tight rear-naked choke in the final 10 seconds. Spencer survived until the horn, but spent the fifth round bloodied and battered, including a considerable hematoma on her head.
Nunes extended her winning streak to 11 and hasn’t lost a fight since 2014.
“That was my goal, defending my two belts,” Nunes said. “I’m so happy right now, I don’t know what is next.”
Garbrandt Starches Assuncao, Ends Three-Bout Skid
Cody Garbrandt couldn’t have picked a better way to return to the win column.
The former bantamweight champion ended a three-bout skid in emphatic fashion, knocking out perennial contender Raphael Assuncao just before the second-round horn in the evening’s co-main event. With his back to the fence in the waning seconds of the second period, Garbrandt (12-3, 7-3 UFC) dipped his shoulder, loaded up and knocked Assuncao (27-8, 11-5 UFC) unconscious with a nasty counter right hook. The official time of the stoppage was 4:59 mark of Round 2.
“I started letting him get a little confident,” Garbrandt said. “He was eventually going to come a little bit forward. He was really biting on the dips. I needed him to come just a little bit more, and I knew the right hand would land.”
After brawling led to his demise in previous Octagon appearances, Garbrandt began with a more measured approach in the opening five minutes, picking his spots to attack with punches and leg kicks. Assuncao, meanwhile, struggled to adjust to the speed of his opponent. Prior to the finish, Garbrandt buckled the Brazilian with a clean right hand behind the ear.
“It feels amazing. It’s been a journey. I went from the top of the world to a three-fight skid,” Garbrandt said. “I got the passion back in my heart and the mentality to be the best in the world like I once was.”
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Sterling Makes Statement, Quickly Taps Sandhagen
If Aljamain Sterling isn’t fighting for the bantamweight title in his next UFC appearance, something is wrong.
The “Funk Master” made a serious statement with a quick submission of Cory Sandhagen in a featured 135-pound encounter. The bout ended 1:28 into Round 1, when Sandhagen fell unconscious moments after tapping to the squeeze of his opponent’s rear-naked choke. Sterling has won five straight UFC contests, tying him for the second longest active winning streak in the division.
The victory presumably positions Sterling (19-3, 11-3 UFC) to face the winner of the clash between Petr Yan and Jose Aldo, who are expected to fight for the vacant bantamweight title later this summer. Sterling had a message for Yan in the aftermath of his victory.
“I’m tired of all this hype sh-t,” Sterling said. “Everyone talking about Petr Yan’s the greatest guy. You better win that fight because I’m coming for your ass.”
Sterling pressured Sandhagen (12-2, 5-1 UFC) as soon as the fight began and quickly attached himself to the Colorado native’s back. With a body triangle locked in, Sterling didn’t take long to secure a crushing choke, but Sandhagen was able to escape the first attempt. Moments later, Sterling adjusted and tightened the maneuver to send Sandhagen to his first ever stoppage defeat.
“This one's for everybody back home fighting the good fight, protesting. I support you guys,” Sterling said. “I’m with you guys all the way. I wish I could be home and be part of it, but I had to handle business.”
Magny Outworks Martin
The longer the fight went, the stronger Neil Magny became.
The Elevation Fight Team product captured a competitive unanimous decision victory over Anthony Rocco Martin in a featured welterweight affair. Judges’ scorecards read 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 -- all in favor of Magny, who won for the fourth time in his last five outings.
The first two frames were nearly too close to call. Martin (17-6, 9-6 UFC) controlled much of the action against the fence in the clinch and landed a powerful takedown in Round 2, but it was Magny (23-7, 16-6 UFC) who enjoyed the greater volume in striking. Magny really put his stamp on the bout in the final five minutes, pressing and outlanding Martin by a 38-to-15 count in significant strikes. Martin spent much of the round on his bicycle attempting to avoid his foe’s attacks.
“I know I can do a lot better than that. I thought at worst it was gonna be a split-decision win,” Magny said. “But that one was too close for comfort, I didn't like that at all.”
O’Malley Scores Walk-Off KO
The “Sugar” show continues to roll on in impressive fashion.
Sean O'Malley authored his most impressive performance to date, as he scored a spectacular knockout of Eddie Wineland in a feature bantamweight affair. The Dana White’s Contender Series alum feinted an uppercut and then came over the top with a right hand that landed clean on the chin and instantly rendered Wineland unconscious. The official time of the stoppage was 1:54 of Round 1, the second-fastest finish of O’Malley’s career to date.
O’Malley (12-0, 4-0 UFC) walked away as soon as the decisive blow was landed.
“I think I’m the best striker in MMA,” O’Malley said. “I know it sounds silly because I haven’t fought many guys, but I’ll continue to do this throughout my career.”
Prior to the finish, O’Malley did well, using rangy kicks to the body and movement to keep his opponent at bay. The 35-year-old Wineland (24-14-1, 6-8 UFC) has lost three of his last four Octagon appearances.
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