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411’s UFC on ESPN+ 1 Report: Cejudo wins 1.19.19

January 20, 2019 | Posted by Robert Winfree
Henry Cejudo

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ESPN+ Main Card:

(c) Henry Cejudo (124.4) vs. TJ Dillashaw (124.6) – For UFC Flyweight Title
Allen Crowder (252.6 lbs.) vs. Greg Hardy (264 lbs.)
#15 Gregor Gillespie (155.2 lbs.) vs. Yancy Medeiros (155.4 lbs.)
#2 Joseph Benavidez (124.4 lbs.) vs. #8 Dustin Ortiz (123.8 lbs.)
Rachael Ostovich (125.8 lbs.) vs. Paige VanZant (125.8 lbs.)
Karl Roberson (203.8 lbs.) vs. #12 Glover Teixeira (205.6 lbs.)

ESPN Prelims

Donald Cerrone (155.8 lbs.) vs. #11 Alexander Hernandez (155.4 lbs.)
#10 Joanne Calderwood (125.8 lbs.) vs. Ariane Lipski (125.2 lbs.)
Alonzo Menifield (204.6 lbs.) vs. Vinicius Castro (205.6 lbs.)
Mario Bautista (135.2 lbs.) vs. #6 Cory Sandhagen (135.6 lbs.)

ESPN+ Prelims

Dennis Bermudez (155.8 lbs.) vs. Te Edwards (155 lbs.)
Belal Muhammad (170.2 lbs.) vs. Geoff Neal (170.4 lbs.)
Chance Rencountre (170.4 lbs.) vs. Kyle Stewart (170.4 lbs.)


Hello everyone and welcome to 411mania’s LIVE coverage of UFC Fight Night 143/UFC on ESPN+ 1. You know it occurs to me that there’s a joke to be made about polyamory if the UFC keeps up the naming scheme of ESPN+ whatever number. I’m Robert Winfree and I’ll be your host for the evening, relaying all of the action just as I see it. This is the first UFC event of 2019, I hope you all had a safe New Years celebration and that 2019 has been treating you well so far. This also marks the first UFC event under their new deal with ESPN, so watching fight week unfold under that particular banner has been interesting. We’ve also got the new design for UFC title belts being on display for the first time, and I’m curious as to your thoughts on it, so don’t hesitate to discuss them below.

For this event the UFC brought a champion vs. champion main event as bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw tries to become the first simultaneous champion who accomplished that goal by moving down in weight rather than up when he takes on flyweight champion Henry Cejudo. Given the rumors that the UFC is basically planning on killing off flyweight this year there is some added intrigue to that clash beyond the fact that it’s two tremendous fighters clashing. Beyond that fight we’ve got the UFC debut of former NFL player Greg Hardy, Donald Cerrone returning to lightweight against rising contender Alexander Hernandez, and a rematch between Joseph Benavidez and Dustin Ortiz. It’s not the flashiest of cards top to bottom but there’s some solid stuff sprinkled throughout the event, so let’s hope it plays out even better in practice.

UFC Fight Night 143 comes to the world from the Barclays Center in the bu borough of Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA. On commentary we have Jon Anik and UFC heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier. As for the rules, New York has adopted the newer rule set so you need both palms or fists flat on on the mat to be considered downed (or a knee of course), extending fingers towards your opponent is a foul regardless of contact being made, and the language around scoring is clearer while being more encouraging of 10-8’s.

To kick things off we’re on ESPN+. We’re taking a long time to actually get going, there’s a bunch of previews and time spent on the analyst desk. Apparently we’re going to have Trevor Wittman joining the broadcast position, not sure if that’ll be all evening or just on and off as the broadcast permits. Minor production note, I’m kind of digging the UFC on ESPN theme they’ve got running in the background.

Chance Rencountre just had a four fight winning streak snapped when he lost his UFC debut to Belal Muhammad, now he’s trying to avoid his first ever losing streak while getting that all important first UFC win. Kyle Stewart took this fight on short notice but has lost just once and won his last fight, he’s trying to make the most of this opportunity and shine under the lights in the UFC. As for the odds they’re with Stewart at -165 against +155 for Rencountre.

Welterweight Bout: Chance Rencountre (12-3, 170.4 lbs.) vs. Kyle Stewart (11-1, 170.4 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Rencountre is two inches taller while Stewart has an inch and a half of reach on him. Southpaw for Rencountre, and he lands a left early. Body kick attempt from Stewart strays into the groin and Rencountre definitely needs a minute after that one. Replay confirms the low blow, Stewart gets a hard warning because that was a really solid kick. Rencountre took a bit but is ready to continue and we’re back to fighting. Inside leg kick from Rencountre then a left and he gets a double leg. Stewart scoots to the fence immediately and wall walks up, Rencountre is holding a rear waist lock, and God help us all we’ve got “Woo’s” already. Rencountre is trying to push Stewart back to the mat but Stewart is sticking along the fence to help him remain upright. Stewart can’t break the grip of Rencountre around his body but he’s staying vertical so far. Rencountre is able to pull Stewart backwards and gets the back with one hook in. Stewart to his knees looking to wall walk again but Rencountre gets under the chin with the choke and despite only having one hook in he forces the tap.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Chance Rencountre via Submission, rear naked choke, at 2:25 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Rencountre for his work this evening. Mic time for Rencountre, he thanks his family for all of their support and people back home who’ve helped him along the way and believes he can go all the way. Asked about the changes in opponents he’s dealt with he just focused on his game plan since he knew Stewart was a tough guy, and that his game plan revolves around wrestling. He talks us through the finish, expresses love to his daughter and a few other family members.

Just a quick look at the finish here. Stewart was doing a good job of keeping wrist control over at least one of Rencountre’s hands but in this situation for just a moment he loses the left hand and Rencountre snaps it around the neck at lightning speed and from there it’s all over but the shouting.

They’re doing a good job with the hype pieces between fights, just a few minor production tweaks but they’re adding to the overall feel of the event. Most of them thus far are focused on hyping the main event. That said, while they’re better produced, they still slow down everything. We got a two or three minute hype job for Cejudo, talking by the broadcast team, a quick bit on Dillashaw, a commercial break of all things on a paid streaming service, and then time at the analyst desk with Karyn Bryan, Michael Bisping, and Rashad Evans. That’s darn near criminal for what happens between the literal first two fights.

Belal Muhammad has gone 5-2 in the UFC and is on a four fight winning streak coming into this fight, if he can get to five in a row here he’ll likely be facing down an opponent with name value for his next bout. Geoff Neal is on a four fight winning streak of his own including two wins in the UFC and while Muhammad is a step up in competition for him a win sets him up nicely going forward in 2019. The odds favor Neal at -190 to +175 for Muhammad.

Welterweight Bout: Belal Muhammad (14-2, 170.2 lbs.) vs. Geoff Neal (10-2, 170.4 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: These two are the same height but Neal has three inches of reach on Muhammad. Neal fighting southpaw, they touch gloves to get us going. Muhammad doing some stance switching, and the crowd with more “Woo-ing”, to the chagrin of everyone with functional ears. Solid body kick from Neal that allows him to punch into a clinch. Muhammad is able to spin free rather quickly with proper head position and reset. Neal lands that left body kick again, he’s putting a lot of power into that kick. Leg kicks from Neal then a straight left. Bit of a right from Muhammad but he’s struggling with the distance. Now Muhammad tries a double leg, they go all the way to the fence but Neal posts with an arm as Muhammad tried to finish the double leg and that allows him to scramble free. Neal coming forward, doubles up on the jab and lands a left behind it. Muhammad is swinging wide with his punches, Neal throwing the straight blows and is therefore able to land first and more often. Knee to the body from Neal. Neal’s pressure is getting to Muhammad at this point, he’s clearly not great off of the back foot. Stiff right hook into a left from Neal, that definitely got Muhammad’s attention. Muhammad responds with a single leg attempt but Neal is able to defend. Muhammad is getting desperate, he’s trying wilder stuff like flying knees but Neal is smothering him with technique. They clinch up and that’s where the round will end.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Neal

ROUND TWO: We hear from Trevor Wittman for the first time, he’s apparently going to chime in between rounds and talk a bit about the coaches message between rounds. Neal is back to pressuring and landing straight punches, Muhammad is damaged on the nose. Good combination from Neal as Muhammad was on the fence but Muhammad is able to swing enough to convince Neal that it’s not time to look for the finish. Another straight left for Neal. Muhammad tries a double leg, then a single leg, but can’t get control once a hip hits the mat and Neal is back up and at distance. Neal is getting his jab working a bit now. Muhammad lands a bit of a right, then a right to the body. Right to the body from Muhammad but Neal lands a counter left to the face. More body work from Muhammad, Neal is backing up now. Hard left to the body from Muhammad. Bit of a one two from Neal but he’s feeling those body shots. Another left from Neal lands. Another takedown attempt from Muhammad is blocked by Neal. Neal lands another left, he seems to be recovered from the body work. Muhammad lands a body kick then a right to the body, Neal lands a left hook. Neal blocks a takedown attempt and lands a hard left that stuns Muhammad, Neal tries to swarm along the fence but time will run out before he can get a finish.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Neal, 20-18 Neal overall

ROUND THREE: Neal is working one twos to start the last round. Straight left from Neal lands, Muhammad swings another right to the body. Muhammad tries a takedown, Neal sprawls free then blocks a high kick. Neal is being a bit predictable in terms of head hunting at this point, it’s letting Muhammad get body shots in. Neal blocks a takedown attempt and lands a left that drops Muhammad, he punches him again on the way down then follows into his guard. Muhammad is back up but he got rocked by that sequence. Body kick from Muhammad, who’s swelling under both eyes. Neal is using that left lead and is busting up Muhammad with it, and he throws in a head kick for good measure. Muhammad with a bit of a right, Neal with another head kick this time it lands flush and Muhammad is down but still fighting and he’s back up throwing punches. I’m shocked Muhammad is still in this, his chin is something else. They’re trading punches now, and Muhammad is cut under the left eye by the cheek bone. Credit to Muhammad for still coming forward and throwing but Neal is avoiding, countering, and will get the last blow of the round with a short left hook in close.

SCORECARD: 10-8 Neal, 30-26 Neal overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Geoff Neal via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27 x2)

No 10-8 for two knockdowns and a near finish in the third? Odd. Mic time for Neal, he says he hates decisions but knows Muhammad is tough and he knew he had to be ready to fight all fifteen minutes. He puts over his coaches and training partners. Asked about how soon he’ll be back he says whenever and plans to stay ready.

Darn good fight, especially given the position on the card. Here’s the head kick he dropped Muhammad with in the third, I’m still not sure how he got up after that.

This time we don’t get the long wait between fights, they seem to have the time per fight set down much firmer now than they have in the past which led to the big wait between the first two fights.

Dennis Bermudez has been with the UFC since 2011 and has had a couple of good winning streaks during that time, unfortunately he’s lost his last four in a row and while three of those have been split decisions he cannot afford to drop another fight here as five in a row so he’s trying his hand up at lightweight for the first time in his UFC tenure. Te Edwards is coming off of a loss in his UFC debut but could rebound nicely with a win over an established UFC veteran even if said veteran appears to be on the downside of his UFC run. It says a lot about how Bermudez has been slumping lately that the odds are with Edwards at -130 against a +120 comeback for Bermudez.

Lightweight Bout: Dennis Bermudez (16-9, 155.8 lbs.) vs. Te Edwards (6-2, 155 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Edwards is two inches taller and has six inches of reach advantage. They touch gloves to get the fight going. Bermudez coming forward early, Edwards is working leg kicks. Calf kick from Bermudez. Edwards is doing some stance switching, and blocks a double leg attempt that leads into a clinch on the fence. Both men sneaking in a few knees then they break and Edwards lands an uppercut. Edwards catches a kick and lands a combination, a couple of uppercuts from Edwards drop Bermudez but he gets back up. Now Edwards avoids a bad single leg attempt and lands a few punches, Bermudez lands a bit of an elbow. Edwards keeps showing takedowns and then throwing uppercuts, it’s a bit predictable but Bermudez doesn’t seem to have caught on yet. Bermudez tries a single leg, Edwards defends but eats a couple of knees as he gets free of Bermudez. Another single leg attempt from Bermudez but Edwards defends this one. Edwards might be tired or hurt, he’s not moving well and Bermudez has him on the fence and lands a few punches. Single leg from Bermudez is successful this time, he’s on top in half guard. Short elbows from Bermudez, Edwards is cut as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Bermudez but a close one

ROUND TWO: Front kick to the body from Bermudez as he’s backing Edwards into the fence. Edwards tries a guillotine to counter a takedown but he slips off and Bermudez gets on top in half guard again. Bermudez moves to side control, he’s got a double wrist lock and is looking for the kimrua. It takes a bit but he’s got the arm around the leg and Bermudez scoots towards north-south position holding the kimura. The elbow of Edwards isn’t bent so there’s no pressure and Edwards gets his arm free. Edwards to his knees, Bermudez looking for a front head lock position, he’s got a lot of choke options if he wants. They’re back up and Edwards lands an elbow on the break. Edwards has visibly slowed now while Bermudez is still moving well. A few calf kicks from Bermudez land. Easy single leg from Bermudez into half guard again. Some punches and elbows from Bermudez, Edwards is fading badly at this point. The round ends in that position.

SCORECARD: 10-8 Bermudez but a marginal one, 20-17 Bermudez overall

ROUND THREE: Bit of a leg kick from Edwards, Bermudez lands a better one. More kicks from Bermudez, Edwards is just kind of here at the moment. Bermudez shoots a single leg and gets it with ease, even the guillotine attempt from Edwards was half hearted. Edwards to his knees, Bermudez grabs an arm in the same side guillotine choke but they wind up rolling around a bit and he loses the specific grip. Bermudez is trying to adjust his grip, finally bails on it and lands elbows to the body from half guard. Now Bermudez knee slices into 3/4 mount, then full mount, and looks to tee off on Edwards. Elbows from Bermudez. There’s no posture control from Edwards and Bermudez abuses him then goes for an armbar when Edwards tries to buck. Edwards gets his arm free and he’s on top for a moment but Bermudez initiates a scramble and they’re back up on the feet. Quick single leg from Bermudez, this time into the guard of Edwards. Bermduez is passing the guard easily, Edwards just couldn’t keep up the pace and technique as the fight has gone on. There’s a keylock attempt from Bermudez, Edwards gets free and starts throwing after a hip escape to a neutral position but he’s not landing clean and time runs out.

SCORECARD: 10-8 Bermudez, 30-25 Bermudez overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Dennis Bermudez via unanimous decision (30-26 x3)

Bermudez is taking off his gloves in the cage and announces his retirement first thing on the mic. He says fighting is awesome and retiring in New York where he lives means a lot, he’s very emotional and the crowd is cheering him. He considered retiring after four losses but didn’t want his kids to think back on his career like that, he wanted to persevere and go out on top. To close he mentions his uncle who’s got cancer and isn’t doing well but that people from New York step up when they hit bottom.

That’s it for prelims on ESPN+, now to ESPN for the rest of the prelims. Well, at least in theory because there’s a college basketball game running long. Not sure if we’re just going to wait or if they’ll move to a different channel.

OK, the update seems to be they’ll just delay the next fight until the basketball game ends, so no channel switch, just a late start and we wont miss any UFC action.

Hey, the Ron Perlman opening narration is still a thing as the ESPN part starts. Nice, I’m glad they kept that.

This next fight started as Dominick Cruz vs. John Lineker, but first Cruz and then Lineker fell out with injures and we wound up with this fight. Cory Sandhagen is on a four fight winning streak that includes two wins in the UFC and his most recent win over veteran Iuri Alcantara was especially impressive, with a win here he could firmly cement himself as a prospect to watch in the division. Mario Bautista is taking this on short notice but is undefeated and could really cement himself with a win over a rising prospect. Sandhagen is a big -500 favorite against +435 for Bautista.

Bantamweight Bout: Mario Bautista (6-0, 135.2 lbs.) vs. Cory Sandhagen (9-1, 135.6 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Sandhagen is two inches taller and has an inch of reach on Bautista. Both men probing with leg kicks, Sandhagen does a lot of stance switching, and Bautista seems to be trying to match him. Body kick from Bautista. Left to the body then a leg kick from Sandhagen. Leg kick from Sandhagen but Bautista catches it. Another body shot to leg kick from Sandhagen. Leg kick from Bautista to counter a head kick. The volume of Sandhagen is working over Bautista, then a flying knee from Sandhagen floors Bautista! Sandhagen on top landing offense, he moves to full mount but Bautista is looking to wall walk. Bautista is up, Sandhagen tries a roll but Bautsita reads it and winds up getting a high crotch takedown. Sandhagen gets an inverted triangle choke off of that slam and is switching towards a leg attack but loses the grip. Now Sandhagen hits a kimura roll into top position, switches to an armbar and forces the tap.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Cory Sandhage, via Submission, armbar, at 3:31 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Sandhagen for his work this evening. Well that was a fun scrap, Sandhagen is a handful if nothing else, he doesn’t care at all about what his opponent does. Sandhagen gets an interview, he says he’s getting better with each UFC fight and feels he’s just a notch above others. Asked about the change in opponents he says he wanted the Lineker fight as he feels he’s a cut above most of the division. He talks us through the finish, notes that he wanted to be memorable in the first UFC fight on ESPN. Asked who’s next or when he’ll be back he’d just prefer a top ten or top fifteen opponent but simply loves to fight.

Here’s the finish. That’s not the best execution as he rolls for it before getting a leg across the face to control Bautista but it was pretty clear that the pace and variety of offense overwhelmed Bautista.

We get some time with Stephen A. Smith and Michael Bisping to fill some air time and pimp ESPN+ as well as hype some of the fights.

Alonzo Menifield is undefeated and making his UFC debut after a very quick win on Dana White’s Contender Series in his second appearance on that platform, now he’s trying to make the most of his UFC debut and given the generally poor state of the division he could start making a run rather quickly. Vinicius Moreira is another Contender Series alum making his UFC debut here, and he can similarly make a great first impression in a shallow division. The odds are with Menifield at -280 to a +255 comeback on Moreira

Light Heavyweight Bout: Alonzo Menifield (7-0, 204.6 lbs.) vs. Vinicius Moreira (9-1, 205.6 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Moreira is four inches taller but the reach is identical. They touch gloves to get us going. Both men miss wild punches, Menifield lands a punch that drops Moreira and he follows into his guard then thinks better of it and we’re back up. Heavy leg kick from Moreira. Menifield slips a right hand through the guard of Moreira. Neither man moving well, kind of plodding. One two from Menifield. Moreira’s body is wide open if Menifield thinks to go to it. Missed jumping knee from Moreira. Moreira lands a leg kick and covers up to block the counters. They clinch up, Moreira gets a body lock and drives Menifield to the fence. Menifield breaks the grip and we settle into a clinch. Single leg attempt from Moreira, he has to settle for a grapevine on the leg and can’t finish it. Menifield gets chest to chest and we’re back to positional jockeying. They break without much incident. Menifield lands a right as Moreira was spinning, Moreira is down and Menifield smacks him a few more times as he’s on his knees to prompt the stoppage.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Alonzo Menifield via TKO, punches, at 3:56 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Menifield for his work this evening. That wasn’t good but at least it didn’t go long. Menifield gets an interview, he says he feels great and knew he had to avoid the ground against Moreira. He says life is tougher than fighting but fighting is really tough and talks us through the finish. Asked about going forward he says he’s always training and is willing to fight whenever. He thanks his wife and mother in law then his coaches, says this has been a long run and plays with the crowd a bit.

And here’s the finish. Menifield has power but needs to refine his technique, in this instance though Moreira throws a spinning back kick for the third time in the round that he didn’t set up, he lands awkwardly when he misses it and Menifield takes the appropriate angle then blasts him with a right and doesn’t let him off the hook once he’s down.

We get the official announcement of Pettis vs. Thompson at welterweight for March 23 as the main event for that card, also we get Blaydes vs. Willis on that card, plus one of the last flyweight fights when Deiveson Figueiredo takes on Jussier Formiga, that’s a darn good flyweight fight actually.

Joanne Calderwood just broke a two fight losing streak when she returned to flyweight, now she’s trying to defend her top ranking and start moving towards title contention. Ariane Lipski was the reigning KSW women’s flyweight champion before signing with the UFC, she’s on a nine fight winning streak coming into her UFC debut here and could make a big statement with a win over a ranked contender. Lipski is a bit of a surprising favorite at -200 to a +185 comeback for Calderwood.

Women’s Flyweight Bout: #10 Joanne Calderwood (12-3, 125.8 lbs.) vs. Ariane Lipski (11-3, 125.2 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: These two are the same height while Lipski has an inch and a half of reach on Calderwood. Both women come out firing, quick combination from Lipski. Elbows from Lipski and they clinch, Lipski with knees to the body and gets Calderwood to the fence. Knees go back and forth as they jockey for position. Both women land knees then separate. Body shot from Lipski but Calderwood gets a double leg takedown along the fence into half guard. Lipski is fishing for a double wrist lock, Calderwood punches her and winds up moving towards the back with one hook in. Calderwood after the choke but has no hooks so Lipski can turn into her and avoid the choke. Calderwood on top again and lands a few short punches. Lipski is after a sweep but doesn’t have the motion down, Calderwood into half guard on the other side and is after an arm triangle. There’s no control over Lipski’s torso though and she rolls free but Caldersood moves to the ride position again and gets both hooks in while taking the back. Calderwood is after the choke, bails on that to land some punches trying to set it up. Armbar attempt from Calderwood, she gets to spiderweb control and is looking to extend the arm. Lipski defends for the final few seconds and the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Calderwood

ROUND TWO: Bit of a right from Lipski to start the round. Quick combination from Lipski, Calderwood misses a spinning back kick. They trade rights but Lipski seemed to have more heat on hers. Body kick from Lipski. A right to the body from Lipski then a leg kick. Glancing head kick from Lipski, they clinch up and Lipski lands a left then Calderwood lands a knee as they break. Calderwood lands a right. Lipski blocks a badly set up takedown attempt then misses an elbow strike. Lipski lands a right then a body kick. Calderwood is doing a good job of managing distance with front kicks to the body and leg, Lipski is struggling with that technique. Right lands for Lipski then a right to the body. Right from Calderwood and she blocks the counter. Lipski lands a counter right. Left hook from Lipski lands. Lipski blocks a takedown and lands knees to the body as Calderwood pushes them to the fence. They trade knees but Lipski isn’t fighting head position and that’s letting Calderwood keep her pinned on the fence. They break then trade. A jab from Lipski will the be the last blow of the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Calderwood but much closer, 20-18 Calderwood overall

ROUND THREE: They touch gloves for the last round. Calderwood working kicks early and Lipski is missing her punches. Right lands for Calderwood. Spinning elbow from Calderwood lands but Lipski eats it. They clinch up and Calderwood lands knees to he body but Lipski gets a headlock takedown into side control. Lipski with a few elbows to the body but Calderwood hip escapes to full guard. A few hammer fists from Lipski but she’s struggling to get her posture. Calderwood is setting up an armbar attempt, there’s the attempt and she gets the roll through but Lipski has her head tied up to help defend the extension. Calderwood is trying to adjust, gets her head free and looks to extend her hips but Lipski stacks her and gets the elbow out of danger. Lipski is still caught by the arm but isn’t in much sub danger yet, she gets all the way free and Calderwood gets full guard. Elbow from Lipski. Another armbar attempt from Calderwood, she winds up belly down but can’t finish before time runs down.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Calderwood, 30-27 Calderwood overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Joanne Calderwood via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26 x2)

Not sure which round was 10-8 but I’m not complaining too much. Mic time for Calderwood, she felt sorry for Lipski for having to debut against her but apparently she and her team are the only ones who believe in her. She says her game plan was to wing it, just see everything and react in real time. Asked about the submission attempts she notes that in the third everyone is slippery so she needs to try harder in the first round. Asked about what’s next she jokes that she can fight again tonight if VanZant or Ostovich fall out then says she’d like to fight Jessica Eye next.

Donald Cerrone is one of the more entertaining fighters as well as currently being atop a couple of records, specifically most wins and most finishes in UFC history. Cerrone is coming back to lightweight for the first time since 2015 when he failed to take the lightweight title from then champion Rafael dos Anjos. Alexander Hernandez is on an eight fight winning streak including two wins in the UFC that have seen him earn a top ranking in the division, now he’s looking for a signature win over a popular and proven veteran of the sport. Hernandez is your favorite at -205 while Cerrone would payout at +180.

Lightweight Bout: Donald Cerrone (34-11 1 NC, 155.8 lbs.) vs. #11 Alexander Hernandez (10-1, 155.4 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Cerrone is four inches taller but only one of reach on Hernandez. Hernandez comes out quickly feinting and lands a right. Stance switching from Hernandez, and a front kick to the body. Another right from Hernandez and Cerrone is a little wobbled but gets a takedown as Hernandez over committed to chasing him. They scramble a bit on the mat but Cerrone is keeping top position, then Hernandez gets free and returns to pushing forward. Jab from Hernandez and they clinch up on the fence. Knees from Hernandez, Cerrone fires knees of his own and they break. Bit of a right from Cerrone after he took a body shot. Left to the body from Hernandez, he’s pressuring consistently. Another dig to the body from Hernandez then a right. Cerrone lands a punch of his own then Hernandez lands another body kick. The pace from Hernandez is pretty nuts. A lot of slips into body shots from Hernandez, they clinch and Cerrone with a glancing head kick on the break. Another clinch and more knees from Hernandez then Cerrone lands a left on the break. Knee from Cerrone as Hernandez dipped on the entry and Hernandez is bleeding under the right eye. Combination from Cerrone lands and they clinch again, both men landing in the clinch then break and Cerrone with a combination. The entries from Hernandez are too predictable at this point and Cerrone is landing an intercepting knee on them. Body kick from Cerrone. We get an exchange as the round ends. Crazy round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Cerrone but could go either way

ROUND TWO: Let’s see which of these two can keep up that kind of pace into the second round. Both men come out hard, Hernandez lands a front kick to the body. They clash heads as Hernandez gets a clinch on the fence. They break when Hernandez can’t get the takedown. Leg kick from Cerrone. Right to the body from Hernandez but Cerrone lands a combination to counter. They trade body kicks. Cerrone lands a combination of punches, when he’s going forward Hernandez isn’t nearly as successful. Bit of a right from Hernandez and Cerrone responds with a couple of body kick. More body shots from Hernandez. They clinch up and trade punches and knees but Cerrone is getting the better of these exchanges. Another clinch and they trade knees, Cerrone lands an elbow. Another knee from Cerrone then a right as they break. Cerrone eats a body shot but lands a left hook then a leg kick. Head kick from Cerrone drops Hernandez and he follows him down to the ground. Cerrone lands a flurry of rights, Hernandez tries to sit up but he can’t block the bevy of rights and the ref has to stop the fight.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Donald Cerrone via TKO, head kick and punches, at 3:43 of Round 2

That lived up the expectation, good stuff from both guys. The crowd goes nuts for Cerrone as he’s introduced on the mic, he says being back at lightweight feels great then mentions this was his 40th fight with Zuffa/WME and gets a round of applause for that stat. He says he wants to fight a top five guy, or even Conor McGregor if he’ll agree to it and he wants to get to the title. He points to his son in the cage and says he’s primal now with that little guy motivating him. To close he appreciates the crowd and takes his hat off to them.

And the finish. Cerrone gets Hernandez biting on the right hand and fires a head kick instead that’s almost unblocked.

That finishes ESPN, back to ESPN+ for the main card. Oh wait, we’re getting a re-hash of the two guys screaming at you to buy the event but instead of Joe Rogan and Dana White it’s now Dana White and Stephen A. Smith. I’m sure that wont be grating at all.

Glover Teixeira is a bit of an old war horse at this point, he’s been trading wins and losses while going 3-3 in his last six fights. Teixeira is coming off of a loss and is trying to avoid his first losing streak since 2014 as well as defend his ranking. Karl Roberson has been a near career middleweight to this point, but took this fight on short notice when Ion Cutelaba fell out of the bout. Roberson has gone 2-1 in the UFC and he’s coming off of a win, and a win over a former title challenger like Teixeira would be the biggest of his career thus far. Despite fighting up a weight class and being less experienced the odds for this one closed at a -115 pick ’em.

Light Heavyweight Bout: Karl Roberson (7-1, 203.8 lbs.) vs. #12 Glover Teixeira (27-7, 205.6 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Teixeira is an inch taller, has two inches of reach advantage, and is a full eleven years older. They touch gloves to get us going, Roberson fighting southpaw. Body kick from Roberson. Bit of a counter left from Roberson, Teixeira tries a takedown and Roberson lands elbows to his head that badly hurt him, at least three of those were to the back of the head, and he’s got Glover down. Full mount for Roberson and he’s teeing off but Teixeira hip escapes and looks for a takedown against the fence but can’t get it. Another double leg from Teixeira and he gets this one into full mount. Roberson is controlling posture but he’s not using his hips for anything and Teixeira is looking to control an arm. Now an arm triangle attempt from Teixeira but Roberson uses that to get full guard. Roberson is trying to wall walk, Teixeira pushes him over and locks up the arm triangle to force the tap.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Glover Teixeira via Submission, arm triangle choke, at 3:21 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Teixeira for his work this evening. Solid comeback from Teixeira, he went out for a second during that elbow flurry. Mic time for Teixeira, he plays with the crowd, gives love to his students in the crowd, then puts over Roberson. He jokes about Cerrone saying earlier that the old man’s still got it because Teixeira is 39 and still has it too. He thanks his coaches and talks us through the finish, then tells ESPN that he lives 25 minutes from their headquarters and he’s got a lot of students he’d love to showcase.

Paige VanZant was pegged as a future star if not title contender back in 2015 but things haven’t quite played out in that way. VanZant is just 1-3 in her last four fights and lost her flyweight debut a little over a year ago, she also suffered a broken arm in that fight that’s accounted for the delay in returning to action, but is rapidly approaching the point where she has to win to justify her spot on the roster. Rachel Ostovich is 1-1 in the UFC and is coming off of a loss to Montana de la Rosa, she’s trying to avoid her first losing streak as well as gain the most high profile win of her career. The odds lean towards VanZant at -160 to a +145 comeback for Ostovich.

Women’s Flyweight Bout: Rachael Ostovich (4-4, 125.8 lbs.) vs. Paige VanZant (7-4, 125.8 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: VanZant is an inch taller and has three inches of reach on Ostovich. They touch gloves to get us going. VanZant working kicks, Ostovich pushes into the clinch and is after a takedown. They fight for trips, Ostovich gets one into half guard. Full guard for VanZant now. Some serious shoulder pressure from Ostovich going on right now but she’s not passing the guard. VanZant is in full lock down mode and her stalling is rewarded with a stand up. Ostovich lands a right and gets a takedown into side control, VanZant quickly shrimps to half guard. More stalling from the bottom by VanZant, Ostovich is trying to pass but VanZant has a lock down on the half guard. Ostovich is trying to get an angle on a choke but there’s an arm trapped and she can’t find it. Another choke attempt from Ostovich, more trying to set up a pass than anything. Knee on belly for Ostovich and she lands punches then VanZant tries to roll for a knee bar but can’t get it and Ostovich lands punches while VanZant keeps trying from 50/50 guard. Ostovich gets free and they spiral to the mat and Ostovich is on top in mount. Armbar attempt from Ostovich but time runs down before it can develop.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Ostovich, arguable 10-8

ROUND TWO: Inside leg kick from VanZant starts the round. Right from Ostovich to counter a leg kick. Another right from Ostovich to counter a superman punch. Right from Ostovich and a takedown into half guard. VanZant is over committing on her forward motion and Ostovich gets a right then a takedown consistently. Ostovich tries to get the back, but slips off and now VanZant has the back and is landing punches looking for the choke. Near escape for Ostovich but VanZant is riding and landing offense. VanZant is too high, she tries for an armbar and gets a quick tap, or some kind of other tap that I missed.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Paige VanZant via Submission, armbar, at 1:50 of Round 2

Pretty big turn around from VanZant, who’s on the mic now. She says that she probably scared her fans in the first round and notes this was a journey after the injury then thanks Ostovich for the fight. She talks us through the finish, says she heard a pop in Ostovich’s arm and hopes she’s going to be alright. Asked about going forward she feels she’s back and puts over her coaches and family for their support, then wants to be on the first live ESPN card in February.

This isn’t he best angle to really understand what happens but it’s what we’ve got. All of Ostovich’s weight winds up on her elbow joint as her base collapses trying to escape and that’s what leads to the tap.

Joseph Benavidez is one of the premier fighters at the lower weight classes, a former bantamweight title challenger in the WEC promotion and a two time title challenger in the UFC’s flyweight division, he’s coming off of a win here and has only lost to Demetrious Johnson and Sergio Pettis at flyweight. With the fate of that entire division uncertain right now Benavidez needs a win here as the UFC could easily cut him with a loss, more over a loss on his part could simply wind up being a mark against the feasibility of the division itself right now, but with a win here and him being the last person to beat the current champion Cejudo he could set up a third crack at the flyweight belt. Dustin Ortiz is on a three fight winning streak with two finishes mixed in and is trying to get the biggest win of his career here, these two previously met in 2014 with Benavidez taking the win but Ortiz could position himself nicely either at flyweight or more likely at bantamweight going forward. Unsurprisingly Benavdiez is a -225 favorite to a +205 comeback on Ortiz.

Flyweight Bout: #2 Joseph Benavidez (26-5, 124.4 lbs.) vs. #8 Dustin Ortiz (19-7, 123.8 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Ortiz is an inch taller but the reach is identical. Both men do some stance switching, leg kick from Benavidez. Another calf kick from Benavidez lands then a body kick but Ortiz lands a body to head combination to counter. Body kick from Ortiz but Benavidez counters with a left that lands flush. Head kick from Ortiz gets Benavidez a little out of sorts and Ortiz is after a takedown against the fence. Benavidez uses a front headlock to snap him down and looks for a high elbow guillotine against the fence. Ortiz breaks the grip and is back up as now Benavidez looks for the single leg. They break with a leg kick from Benavidez after that position stalled out. Front kick to the body from Ortiz off balances Benavidez and he lands a right to follow up. Benavidez is wincing around his right eye, not sure what caused that. Another calf kick from Benavidez then a double leg into half guard. Ortiz rolls and reverses they wind up standing in the clinch and Ortiz has Benavidez on the fence. Knee from Ortiz but Benavidez spins him into the fence and he gets a takedown against the cage. Benavidez gets a waist lock while Ortiz wall walks and gets him down, Ortiz back up and lands a knee to the body before getting free. Counter left from Benavidez off of a blocked kick drops Ortiz and Benavidez is on top in the guard of Ortiz. Half guard for Benavidez now, Ortiz to his knees and they end the round in the ride position.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Benavidez

ROUND TWO: Ortiz counters a leg kick with a right. Knee from Ortiz in close and we’ve got a scramble going on, Ortiz winds up holding a front headlock and lands a knee before they clinch up. Body shots from Ortiz then a knee on the break. Benavidez misses a wild couple of punches. Body kick from Ortiz but he takes a glancing counter hook. Hook from Ortiz lands, Benavidez is bleeding from the mouth now. Left hook from Ortiz, Benavidez is slowing down a bit. Ortiz lands a body kick, Benavidez is after a takedown that stalls out on the fence. Rights from Ortiz as Benavidez holds a single leg. Ortiz gets the leg back, looks for a single leg of his own but Benavidez sprawls and we’re still in the clinch. They jockey for position and Ortiz gets a double leg then the ride postiion. One hook in for Ortiz but Benavidez is doing to turn into him and wind up on top, they trade the ride position then Benavdiez gets the back with one hook in. Ortiz spins into him, great scrambling from both guys, and they wind up separated on the feet. Both men land rights, Benavidez is telegraphing his offense by loading his body on it. Ortiz lands a punch and gets the back standing then lands a knee of his own and hits a mat return. Now the back with both hooks in for Ortiz but he’s not under the chin with the choke attempt, Benavidez is able to just ride out the last few seconds.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Ortiz, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: Heck of a pace these two are keeping. Ortiz showing the jab from both stances, lands a side kick to the body. Calf kick from Benavidez but he eats a right. Quick takedown from Benavidez, Ortiz is looking to counter, we get a scramble and Benavidez gets the ride position but has no control and Ortiz shucks him over his head and is on top now. Ortiz gets a ride position but Benavidez counters this time and he’s on top again. They’re back up and Benavidez drags him back down and gets a body triangle. Near choke from Benavidez but Ortiz defends. Ortiz is trying to spin into Benavidez but that body triangle is keeping him from doing so. Benavidez goes to double hooks and Ortiz strips them then stands but he can’t get Benavidez off of his back and he gets returned to the mat. Headlock takeover from Ortiz, Benavidez floats over and we’re back up in the clinch. Ortiz lands knees to the body, tries a peek out but Benavidez counters and keeps a single leg attempt. Body shots from Ortiz but he needs a finish. Ortiz nearly gets the back, he’s got one hook in and might be setting up a twister but he’s lacking control. They’re up and Ortiz lands knees to the body then a combination of punches. They break and Ortiz misses a couple of kicks as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Benavidez, 29-28 Benavidez overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Joseph Benavidez via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)

That was a lot of fun, especially if you like high level wrestling in MMA. Benavidez on the mic now, he says that Ortiz is a tough opponent and says that Ortiz has improved a lot since their last fight. Asked what’s next for him, he wants the belt and reiterates what he said six weeks ago when he won then.

Gregor Gillespie is undefeated as a professional including five in the UFC that have seen him fight his way into a top ranking. Gillespie has emerged as a prospect to watch in the division and he’s looking to start making the transition from prospect to contender. Yancy Medeiros is coming off of a loss to Donald Cerrone a little less than a year ago, he’s also returning to lightweight for the first time since 2016 but could assert himself with a win over a rising fighter like Gillespie. Gillespie is a significant -475 favorite against +420 on Medeiros.

Lightweight Bout: #15 Gregor Gillespie (12-0, 155.2 lbs.) vs. Yancy Medeiros (15-5 1 NC, 155.4 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Medeiros is three inches taller and has four and a half inches of reach on Gillespie. Some jabs from Medeiros, Gillespie looking to find a way to close distance. Single leg from Gillespie, he gets them to the fence and gets the ride position as Medeiros is after a wall walk. Gillespie lands a knee and rides Medeiros down but Medeiros granby rolls through and Gillespie gets a waist lock against the fence. Knees to the thigh from Gillespie then he works them to the body. Medeiros is trying to keep all four points on the mat to avoid getting kneed in the head, they granby roll again but Medeiros catches a leg and nearly gets on top, Gillespie reverses him though and is back on him against the fence. Gillespie is trying for an ankle pick and winds up getting the back and hits a mat return but Medeiros is back up, and back down again. Now Gillespie has the back with both hooks in, now just one and they’re upright again. Back to just a waist lock for Gillespie and knees to whatever he can find before dropping Medeiros back to the mat. Another scramble from Medeiros but he cannot get free to save his life. More knees from Gillespie as he’s got that rear waist lock. The round comes to a close in that spot.

SCORECARD: 10-8 Gillespie, just total control on his part

ROUND TWO: More feinting from both guys. Gillespie falls short with a couple of hooks then lands a right. Medeiros is circling, and Gillespie gets a double leg against the fence and is looking to finish it. Now Gillespie gets a trip but a kimrua attempt from Medeiros lets him stand back up but he’s still clinched. Another mat return from Gillespie and he’s still got the back as they’re upright again. There’s another mat return and this time Gillespie actually gets top position, specifically half guard. Gillespie is looking to pass, and now he’s got side control. Medeiros gives up the back, and Gillespie has full mount as Medeiros doesn’t want to get his back taken. Arm triangle attempt from Gillespie, he bails to land punches and elbows. Solid right from Gillespie, he’s moving from full mount to back mount as Medeiros tries to roll and get motion going. More punches from Gillespie but Medeiros is back to all fours as Gillespie has the body lock again. Knees to the body from Gillespie, Medeiros is thinking about rolling under for a leg but can’t get a reach for one of them. Gillespie slings Medeiros back down and has the back again with both hooks in landing punches. More punches from Gillespie and the ref waves it off with maybe two seconds left in the round.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Gregor Gillespie via TKO, punches, at 4:59 of Round 2

I think Medeiros landed maybe 3 blows all fight, utter domination from Gillespie. Mic time for Gillespie, he says he was listening to Medeiros’ coaches calling the time and that let him have a feel for it. He says he could feel Medeiros get tired as the fight went on, puts over Medeiros’ tactical decision making and plays a bit with the crowd. Asked what’s next for him, he wants to fight three times this year and has a few fishing trips planned for the finger lakes. He plays with the crowd a bit again, says he didn’t plan on fighting when he moved to Long Island eight years ago but got talked into it, then expresses his love for New York. The official stats have Medeiros landing just 1 strike all fight. That’s nuts.

Here’s the finish. Gillespie just wore down Medeiros and once he got a dominant position he unloaded onto him.

Greg Hardy is undefeated with two wins on Dana’s Contender Series and he’s making his UFC debut here. Allen Crowder lost his UFC debut against Justin Willis in December of 2017, he’s trying to score a high profile win here. Hardy is the biggest favorite on the card at -475 to a +420 payout on Crowder.

Heavyweight Bout: Allen Crowder (9-3 1 NC, 252.6 lbs.) vs. Greg Hardy (3-0, 264 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Hardy is two inches taller and has four inches of reach on Crowder. Crowder fighting southpaw, we get some sloppy brawling but neither man lands flush. A couple of rights land for Hardy before they clinch up. More rights from Hardy, Crowder is throwing back though. They trade lefts. A few jabs from hardy land. Knee from Hardy, Crowder gets a single leg off of it though and he’s in the guard of Hardy. Hardy looking to wall walk, Crowder keeps stripping his posting limbs. Crowder pushes Hardy over as he was on his knees and he’s in side control now. Mounted crucifix for Crowder, Hardy spins off of the fence to break the position but he’s still on the mat. They wind up on the feet but still clinched. Front headlock for Crowder, Hardy pushes him to the fence then Crowder jumps for a guillotine and slips off so Hardy winds up on top. Crowder is trying to get his hips angled for an armbar, Hardy lands a few hammer fists as Crowder sneaks in a triangle but can’t keep it. They scramble in slow motion and wind up clinched on the fence, then Hard lands a right as the last blow of the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Hardy

ROUND TWO: Both guys sucking some wind as the round starts. A few leg kicks go back and forth then a front kick from Hardy. Hardy lands a right. Counter combination from Crowder lands. Bit of a left hook from Hardy, these two are plodding now. Bit of a counter right from Crowder. Crowder is talking to Hardy, and lands a left. Crowder is coming forward, walks into an elbow then tries a takedown but Hardy sprawls away. Hardy lands a blatantly illegal knee that absolutely ended Crowder for a moment. Crowder can’t continue and the ref has disqualified Hardy.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Allen Crowder via Disqualification, illegal knee, at 2:28 of Round 2

Well, that was a thing. Credit to Crowder for sticking around for that decision to be read, he got badly blasted by that knee.

TJ Dillashaw is the reigning UFC bantamweight champion and is currently on a four fight winning streak that saw him reclaim the title and defend it, now he’s dropping down to flyweight for the first time in an attempt to become a dual champion and kill off the flyweight division while furthering his claim to all time MMA greatness. Henry Cejudo is on a three fight winning streak and is coming off of a somewhat controversial title win over longtime champion Demetrious Johnson, this is his first attempted title defense and he’s been spinning the narrative that with a win the division itself will stick around for a while longer. Regardless of the larger narratives, a win over TJ Dillashaw would be a massive one for Cejudo as he works to establish his own legacy. Dillashaw is an unsurprising favorite at -210 to +190 for the defending champion Cejudo.

Flyweight Title Bout: (c) Henry Cejudo (13-2, 124.4) vs. TJ Dillashaw (16-3, 124.6)

ROUND ONE: Dillashaw is two and a half inches taller and has three inches of reach on Cejudo. Dillashaw does a lot of stance switching, Cejudo does as well and prefers to fight opposite his opponent. Both men looking to land, Cejudo drops Dillashaw with a right and looks to tee off, he drops him again and this is over!

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER and STILL UFC Flyweight Champion – Henry Cejudo via TKO, punches, at :32 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Cejudo for his work this evening. The crowd seems a little upset with the stoppage, and it might have been on the swift side but not unjust. Dillashaw is also upset with the stoppage. Cejudo is the first guy to have that new belt strapped on him, and now he’s on the mic. He says he’s busted his butt his whole life to be one of the best and that this moment feels surreal. Asked about the stoppage, he says he just knew Dillashaw was hurt and felt that everything after a bit of a high kick that landed was academic. Anik asks about him moving up towards bantamweight, he says he came here to save the flyweight division but he’s open to moving up to bantamweight to fight TJ again, TJA’s crouched on the cage and motions that he’s amenable to that arrangement. To close he reiterates he did this for the flyweights, then says he and his management are going to talk with the UFC because he wants to get paid.

Anik moves over to talk with Dillashaw, who calls the fight unfortunate and feels he was still fighting and feels this was taken from him rather than him being beaten then tells Cejudo he didn’t beat him.

Here’s the finish if you missed it, I’ll let you determine how you feel about the stoppage for yourself.

Well that was a shocking ending to that fight, even if you picked Cejudo him getting a finish in less than a minute is nuts. Cejudo has now beaten Demetrious Johnson (controversial decision aside) and TJ Dillashaw back to back. That is a monumental achievement.

OK everyone, that wraps up UFC Fight Night 143/UFC on ESPN+ 1. Thanks for being here and following along, that was a really solid card all the way around and a good way to kick off UFC action in 2019. We’ll be breaking down this event Sunday on the 411 Ground and Pound Radio Show, plus looking at all the MMA news of the week. There’s no UFC event next week but I will be back for UFC Fight Night 144 on February 2. Until then thank you again for being here, stay safe out there, and keep checking 411mania for all of your pop culture needs.

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UFC on ESPN+ 1, Robert Winfree