LAS VEGAS (AP) – Amanda Nunes became the first UFC fighter to defend a championship belt while achieving titles in two weight classes on Saturday evening, resulting in a dominant unanimous decision over featherweight contender Felicia Spencer at UFC 250.
Former bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt also hit Raphael Assunção one minute before the second round in the co-main event at a fan-free gym on the UFC corporate campus in Las Vegas.
UFC 250 was the second event to be held at the UFC Apex gym in the birthplace of the promotion since the resumption of competition amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Apex octagon is 25 feet in diameter instead of the typical 30 feet, and those tight spaces resulted in several fun finishes, including spectacular knockouts from Garbrandt and fellow bantam weight star “Suga” Sean O’Malley.
Widely regarded as the greatest female fighter in mixed martial arts history, Nunes (20-4) is the UFC champion of the bantamweight and featherweight divisions.
While Nunes’ dominance was tested in her last fight against bantamweight Germaine De Randamie in December, the relatively inexperienced Spencer (8-2) offered little challenge to the champion apart from the remote ability to break her hands in repeated collisions with the face of Spencer.
Nunes stormed the slower Spencer with her terrifying punch from the start, cut the challenger’s face, and later sent her mouthpiece out in the third round. Spencer had a nasty hematoma on her forehead after the fourth round.
Nunes defended her feather-light belt for the first time since taking over from Cris ‘Cyborg’ Justino in December 2018. She has defended the bantam weight belt five times since 2016.
Garbrandt (12-3) had lost three battles in a row before this impressive performance ended with a right cross that knocked out Assunção in the last second of the second round. Garbrandt retreated to the fence, dodging Assunção’s right hand and landed a perfect shot to the face, causing Assunção to tumble back and face-first to the canvas.
The win was Garbrandt’s first since December 2016, when he beat Dominick Cruz for the £ 135 title.
O’Malley (12-0) opened the pay-per-view portion of UFC 250 with a vicious knockout from veteran Eddie Wineland just 1:54 in their fight.
O’Malley’s right hand against the jaw put Wineland flat on his back with his hands still up. O’Malley sneaked away from his single punch before the senseless Wineland or the referee knew what was happening.
“If you’re as fast and accurate as I am, I’ll land first and I’m going to land early,” said O’Malley. “And I ended up on the button.”
Later, Aljamain Sterling knocked out Cory Sandhagen with a naked choke on the back, only 88 seconds into a fight to determine the next bantamweight contender. Sterling (19-3), who has five consecutive wins, was quickly trapped in a full-body triangle and a deep choke to close off Sandhagen, who tapped just before bed.
Light heavyweight Devin Clark took a knee with his fist in the air during his pre-fight introduction to Bruce Buffer. Clark then achieved a unanimous decision victory over the previously unbeaten potential Alonzo Menifield, persevering with a left eye closed by punches.
Clark and teammate Jon Jones spent time on the Albuquerque street last weekend, speaking with protesters, and helping to clear up property damage.
Clark did not speak to the media after his fight, but went to a hospital for immediate care.
But Sterling spoke out in support of the widespread protests after George Floyd’s death in his post-fight interview.
“The world is currently confused, especially America,” Sterling said. “We have a lot to do in this country. It is a great country, but there are many things that need to be changed, especially the injustices that happen to minorities across America. This one is at home for everyone, fighting the good fight, protesting I support you. I am with you all the time. ”
Featherweight Cody Stamann got a dominant decision over Brian Kelleher just 10 days after the death of Stamann’s 18-year-old brother Jacob.
“It has been very difficult,” said Stamann, who was visibly emotional in the cage. “I’ve been fighting tears all day. I had to hang on and be a man and do this for my family and myself.”
The UFC led the return of North American sports with three shows in Florida last month. President Dana White is determined to host nearly weekly shows in the future, and he still plans to have fights this summer on a private island called “Fight Island.”
While White has been mysterious about the location where he will host battles between fighters unable to reach the US due to coronavirus travel restrictions, lightweight Herbert Burns showed Fight Island is in Abu Dhabi after defeating Evan Dunham in the UFC 250 opening match .