One of many biggest MMA heavyweights of all time may need departed from the UFC with fairly the bang.

Fabricio Werdum, the legendary heavyweight floor artist and former UFC champ, completed Alexander Gustafsson by armbar submission at 2:30 of the primary spherical Saturday on the primary card of UFC Struggle Night time: Robert Whittaker vs. Darren Until on Abu Dhabi’s Struggle Island. It was Werdum’s first win in three years — and it got here on the ultimate battle of his UFC contract.

Gustafsson was coming back from retirement and shifting as much as heavyweight for one more run. That was the story coming into the bout. Werdum, the outdated lion, would have none of it. He wrote his personal chapter.

Werdum shot for a takedown early, which Gustafsson stuffed. However maybe Gustafsson acquired a bit grasping, going for hammerfists on Werdum when Werdum nonetheless had a maintain of his leg. A scramble was initiated, and Werdum ended up on Gustafsson’s again. Werdum, the perfect grappler in MMA heavyweight historical past, shortly transitioned to Gustafsson’s arm. Gustafsson fought for a bit, clasping onto his left hand together with his proper, however Werdum gave the left arm a yank, and Gustafsson had no selection however to faucet.

“This was essential,” Werdum mentioned. “I have been ready for this.”

Werdum mentioned main as much as the bout that this probably might be his ultimate UFC battle. His supervisor, Ali Abdelaziz, confirmed with ESPN on Saturday that this was the ultimate battle on Werdum’s UFC contract. However he may need simply earned himself one other strong contract with this victory.

Afterward, the normally jovial Werdum was very emotional. There was a sure finality to the second.

“I am very pleased,” he mentioned. “I am nearly crying.”

Werdum (24-9-1) had not received a UFC battle since he beat Marcin Tybura on Nov. 19, 2017. The Brazil native, who lives and trains in Los Angeles, was out from March 2018 till Could of this 12 months resulting from a USADA doping suspension. Werdum, 42, returned in a shedding effort towards Aleksei Oleinik by break up determination on Could 9.

Werdum held the UFC heavyweight title in 2015 and 2016 after submitting Cain Velasquez. He additionally ended Fedor Emelianenko’s 10-year undefeated streak in 2010 by way of submission underneath the Strikeforce banner.

Gustafsson (18-7) has misplaced three in a row. The Sweden native fought his complete UFC profession at mild heavyweight previous to this, combating for the title there thrice in shedding efforts. Gustafsson, 33, has not received a battle since Could 2017.

“I wish to thank everybody that supported me and helped me throughout my profession and right here at UFC, I depart the corporate pleased, I am a bit emotional,” Werdum mentioned. “The whole lot that we educated occurred within the battle — it was superior, precisely what we educated occurred, we did every thing proper. We educated jiu-jitsu, muay thai, boxing, conditioning, however specifically the psychological power that you want to be equally balanced.

“Regardless of how good your physique is educated, in case your thoughts will not be in the fitting place it will not work, your physique will not reply. That is why I am so pleased. I used to be searching for the victory for this my final UFC battle. I am undecided what I am gonna do, the place I will go, I do not know, I simply wish to get pleasure from this second and thank everybody that all the time supported me.”

— Marc Raimondi


Middleweight: Robert Whittaker (22-5, 12-Three UFC) defeats Darren Until (18-3-1, 6-3-1 UFC) by unanimous determination

Robert Whittaker edged Darren Until in a detailed unanimous determination Saturday evening in the primary occasion of UFC Struggle Night time in Abu Dhabi.

All three judges scored it 48-47 for Whittaker, who entered Saturday’s battle as ESPN’s No. 2-ranked middleweight. Until was ranked No. 6.

Learn your complete story.

— Raimondi


Mild heavyweight: Mauricio Rua (27-11-1, 12-8-1 UFC) defeats Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (23-10, 6-7 UFC) by break up determination

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Mauricio Rua and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira decide up the place they left off of their earlier two fights as they commerce punches in Spherical 1 of their bout at UFC Struggle Night time.

Rua defeated Nogueira in 2005 in a Delight Middleweight Grand Prix. He defeated his fellow Brazilian once more 10 years later as soon as each had made it to the UFC. And on Saturday, “Shogun” accomplished a clear sweep of the trilogy.

This one was a break up determination that might have gone both method. For Nogueira, 44, it was a ultimate disappointment, as he mentioned beforehand that this might be the final battle of knowledgeable profession he started in 2001. He owns victories over Dan Henderson, Rashad Evans, Tito Ortiz and Kazushi Sakuraba, and two wins over Alistair Overeem.

However not “Shogun” Rua.

Learn your complete story.

— Wagenheim


Strawweight: Carla Esparza (18-6, 8-Four UFC) defeats Marina Rodriguez (12-1-2, 3-1-2 UFC) by break up determination

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Carla Esparza takes down Marina Rodriguez simply over midway into Spherical Three as each contenders look to be within the working for a title shot.

Esparza was relentless in taking the battle to the place she wanted it to be, and though she absorbed harm alongside the way in which, the previous strawweight champion’s persistence paid off as she dealt Rodriguez her first profession defeat.

Esparza, who defeated Rose Namajunas within the Season 20 finale of “The Final Fighter” to grow to be the UFC’s inaugural 115-pound champ, has all the time relied upon her wrestling, even on the danger of getting hit alongside the way in which. And that was the case on this battle. She took down the 33-year-old Brazilian throughout the first minute, and he or she remained on high for almost the whole thing of Spherical 1. However Rodriguez was harmful from the underside, touchdown an elbow that reduce up her opponent above the left eye and left the realm swollen.

Esparza, a 32-year-old Californian who got here in on a three-fight successful streak, maintained positional management till late within the spherical, when she dropped again for a leg lock try. It was a foul concept, as Rodriguez defended the submission and ended up on high, from the place she focused Esparza’s eye.

Rounds 2 and three have been a lot the identical, besides within the second spherical, Esparza didn’t surrender high place for a leg-lock strive till the waning seconds. Nonetheless, when she went again to her nook, her coach yelled at her for surrendering place.

Esparza didn’t make the identical mistake in Spherical 3, and in these ultimate 5 minutes she not solely remained on high, she was the one allotting the elbows. It was a detailed battle, however Esparza completed strongly.

Every fighter was awarded a 29-28 scorecard, and the deciding decide noticed it as a 30-27 flight for Esparza.

— Wagenheim

Watch this battle on ESPN+.


Mild heavyweight: Paul Craig (13-4-1, 5-4-1 UFC) defeats Gadzhimurad Antigulov (20-7, 2-Three UFC) by first-round triangle

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Paul Craig does not waste any time, submitting Gadzhimurad Antigulov by way of triangle choke simply over two minutes into the bout.

Each opponent is aware of Craig will attempt to snatch a submission. It’s basically the one method the sunshine heavyweight fighter wins.

But, one way or the other, Craig all the time appears to discover a choke. He did it once more Saturday, defeating Antigulov by submission (triangle choke) at 2:06 of the primary spherical. Craig, of Scotland, is now tied with 5 others for essentially the most submission wins in UFC mild heavyweight historical past (5).

Antigulov, of Russia, took Craig down to begin the primary spherical. Craig welcomed it, as a result of it arrange his backside sport — he is probably the greatest from that place among the many heavier fighters within the UFC. Craig threw his legs up for the triangle, however Antigulov began to mild him up with elbows from high place. Craig ate them, in favor of working extra on the choke. He locked it in tight, and Antigulov tapped out. Craig popped up from the bottom bloodied, however his dangerous technique labored.

“As he was elbowing me, it was sinking in deeper,” Craig mentioned of the choke. “It was price it.”

Craig, 32, is unbeaten in his previous three fights. All of 5 of his UFC wins are by submission, and three of them have come by way of triangle choke. Craig has by no means gone to determination in a victory over his profession. He has 12 profession submission wins and one TKO. Antigulov, 33, has dropped three straight.

— Raimondi

Watch this battle on ESPN+.


Welterweight: Alex Oliveira (21-8-1) defeats Peter Sobotta (17-7-1, 4-Three UFC, 10-6-1 UFC) by unanimous determination

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Alex Oliveira hurts Peter Sobotta early in Spherical 1 with a straight kick to the photo voltaic plexus.

Oliveira has been identified to battle like a wild man at occasions, however not this time. He placed on a poised efficiency from lengthy vary, utilizing physique kicks to maintain Sobotta out of boxing distance and even damage him a number of occasions.

The 32-year-old from Rio de Janeiro is again on monitor, successful his second straight battle after dropping three in a row. He was in command the entire method, with the most important menace to his three 30-27 scorecards being his personal fouls. The bout was paused twice — after Oliveira landed a low blow, then poked the Polish-born German within the eye — however no level was deducted.

Sobotta, 33, misplaced for the second straight time — however the different loss got here again in 2018. He had a battle canceled final 12 months due to damage.

Oliveira saved the battle at lengthy vary for essentially the most half, absorbing some physique kicks however touchdown way over he took. When Sobotta tried takedowns, Oliveira defended nicely and landed elbows to the facet of the top. That enabled him to interrupt away and hold the battle standing, and his footwork remained efficient and at occasions was even playful.

— Wagenheim

Watch this battle on ESPN+.


Welterweight: Khamzat Chimaev (8-0, 2-Zero UFC) defeats Rhys McKee (10-3-1, 0-1 UFC) by first-round TKO

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Khamzat Chimaev’s TKO victory over Rhys McKee marks his second win in two totally different weight courses within the span of 11 days.

Struggle Island? How about Chimaev Island?

The most well liked new prospect within the UFC completely ran by means of McKee with a TKO at 3:09 of the primary spherical. Chimaev had the quickest turnaround victory in UFC historical past (10 days) after beating John Phillips on the July 15 card. The Swedish supernova has been one of many stars of the UFC’s 14-day stretch in Abu Dhabi.

On Saturday, Chimaev ran throughout the cage, picked McKee up and took him down simply. He then acquired into high management and rained down strikes till referee Wealthy Mitchell pulled him off. It was whole domination — prefer it was towards Phillips.

Learn your complete story.

— Raimondi

Watch this battle on ESPN+.


Light-weight: Francisco Trinaldo (26-7, 16-6 UFC) defeats Jai Herbert (10-2, 0-1 UFC) by third-round TKO

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Francisco Trinaldo drops Jai Herbert with an overhand left hook, then completes the end.

Because the battle wore on, Trinaldo was getting lit up. Then, the veteran from Brazil turned out the lights.

The end was sudden — and but not sudden sufficient. Trinaldo, who had been pieced up within the standup for a lot of the primary two rounds, threw a powerful left hand early in Spherical Three that related to the temple and despatched Herbert crashing backward onto the mat, stiffened. As Trinaldo moved in, Herbert didn’t transfer. So Trinaldo held again, however referee Herb Dean stood there immobile, as nicely, not stopping the battle. A few seconds ticked off the clock, with nobody shifting, so Trinaldo threw a punch at his fallen opponent, who didn’t defend. Then, Trinaldo threw one other punch. He paused once more. Lastly, Dean jumped in to finish it at 1:30 of Spherical 3.

Trinaldo, a 41-year-old Brazilian, had missed the light-weight restrict by 4 kilos at Friday’s weigh-in, and his power appeared to wane earlier than the primary spherical was executed. He got here out aggressively and shortly closed the space on the slick English striker, scoring a takedown, shifting into half guard and threatening a few submissions.

However Herbert, a former Cage Warriors champion who was making his UFC debut whereas driving a six-fight successful streak, defended nicely on the bottom, and when he acquired the battle again to standing, he took benefit of his quick arms and fixed motion. The 32-year-old Englishman even blended in some grappling work, almost securing a rear-naked choke within the second spherical.

However Herbert’s finest work was within the standup, and Trinaldo was sporting the results of that an increasing number of because the battle continued. And but Trinaldo, who owns victories over the likes of Paul Felder and Jim Miller, saved coming ahead, and his resilience paid off when he landed the large punch that ended it. Or ought to have ended it.

— Wagenheim

Watch this battle on ESPN+.


Welterweight: Jesse Ronson (22-10, 1-2 UFC) defeats Nicolas Dalby (18-4-1, 2-3-1 UFC) by first spherical submission

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Jesse Ronson submits Nicolas Dalby with a vicious strike to Dalby’s face and a observe up rear-naked choke in Spherical 1.

Welcome again, “Physique Snatcher.”

After a six-year absence from the UFC, Ronson stopped Dalby by way of submission (rear-naked choke) at 2:48 of the primary spherical of a welterweight bout. Ronson dropped a pressuring Dalby with a ravishing left hand, acquired into mount, took the again and choked Dalby till he tapped. An all-but-flawless efficiency from the veteran.

“I climbed tooth and nail to get again in there,” Ronson informed Dan Hardy afterward. “… To hell and again. That is all it’s. And right here I’m — I am again.”

He added that he’ll drop right down to light-weight after this bout. Ronson referred to as out Luis Pena and Jalin Turner for later within the 12 months — due to their heights. Each are above 6-foot, which is tall for the division, and whereas Ronson will battle the taller opponents, he mentioned if you happen to’re that top, it’s best to transfer up in weight.

“In case you’re 6-foot-3, you want to eat one thing aside from lettuce and ice cubes,” Ronson mentioned. “… I like combating tall guys, and I like crushing their guts.”

Ronson, 34, had not fought within the UFC since a break up determination loss to Kevin Lee on July 6, 2014. The Canada native has bounced round, successful a title within the TKO promotion and having misplaced twice in PFL final 12 months. Dalby, a 35-year-old from Denmark, had been unbeaten in his previous 5 fights coming in.

— Raimondi

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Heavyweight: Tom Aspinall (8-2, 1-Zero UFC) defeats Jake Collier (11-5, 3-Four UFC) by first-round KO

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Tom Aspinall wastes no time knocking out Jake Collier with a giant knee and two follow-up jabs in Spherical 1 of their bout.

Aspinall didn’t waste any time in making an impression in his UFC debut, knocking out Collier with a straight proper hand simply 45 seconds into their heavyweight bout.

This was a well-recognized end result for the 27-year-old from England. All eight of his skilled victories have come by knockout, most within the first minute.

Collier, who had not fought since 2017 due to damage, a PED suspension and bout cancellations, was making his heavyweight debut after competing at middleweight and lightweight heavyweight. Regardless of having come from these lighter divisions, although, he was a step sluggish proper from the beginning. He absorbed a straight proper within the opening seconds, and Aspinall instantly measured him for one more, setting it up with a left hook.

The suitable hand that adopted despatched Collier face-first to the canvas, the place Aspinall pounced, including a number of extra photographs on his immobilized opponent earlier than the referee jumped in.

For Aspinall, it was his fourth straight victory. Collier has alternated victories and defeats going again to 2014.

— Wagenheim

Watch this battle on ESPN+.


Males’s featherweight: Movsar Evloev (13-0, 3-Zero UFC) defeats Mike Grundy (12-2, 1-1 UFC) by unanimous determination

Evloev does not have a nickname. Possibly it ought to be “Houdini.”

Time and time once more, Evloev was in a position to escape Grundy’s takedowns and submission makes an attempt, together with an extremely tight D’arce choke within the first spherical. When again on the toes, Evloev dominated together with his putting en path to a unanimous determination (30-27, 30-27, 29-28) win.

Grundy took early management together with his superior wrestling. He acquired Evloev down in a precarious place up towards the cage and appeared for a choke. He almost cinched it in, however Evloev pulled off an unbelievable escape.

From there, Evloev had all of the momentum. He break up open Grundy’s left cheek with a tough proper hand within the first and landed clean mixtures all through the battle. Evloev’s jab specifically was very spectacular.

Evloev, 26, has received three straight within the UFC and stays undefeated. The Russia native, a former M-1 champion, seems to be a professional prospect within the featherweight division. Grundy, a 33-year-old England native, had his nine-fight successful streak snapped. This was the British wrestler’s first loss since 2015.

— Raimondi

Watch this battle on ESPN+.


Heavyweight: Tanner Boser (19-6-1, 3-1 UFC) defeats Raphael Pessoa (10-2, 1-2 UFC) by second-round KO

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Tanner Boser finishes Raphael Pessoa after touchdown a vicious left hook to Pessoa’s face in Spherical 2.

Twenty-eight days earlier, Boser scored a first-round knockout in Las Vegas. Then he traveled to Struggle Island and needed to work a bit longer, however the end result was one other massive knockout victory.

After spending all the first spherical and far of the second utilizing footwork to remain out of vary of the heavy-fisted Pessoa, and in addition touchdown leg kicks that reddened the large Brazilian, Boser started partaking in punching exchanges halfway by means of Spherical 2 and clipped Pessoa with a counter left hand that instantly despatched Pessoa into retreat, squinting out of a compromised proper eye. Boser went on the assault as his opponent slumped on the canvas and punched away till the referee stepped in at 2:36 of the spherical.

The 28-year-old out of Edmonton, Alberta, who wanted barely 2½ minutes to take out Philipe Lins on June 27, put in his work proper from the beginning however this time that work was principally within the type of motion. He strikes nicely for a heavyweight, and his array of kicks and punches have been tough to counter. Pessoa saved his proper hand cocked, able to unleash, nevertheless it merely couldn’t discover its goal.

This was the fourth win in Boser’s previous 5 fights. Pessoa, a 31-year-old out of Rio de Janeiro, misplaced for the second time in his previous three bouts.

— Jeff Wagenheim


Girls’s bantamweight: Pannie Kianzad (14-5, 2-2 UFC) defeats Bethe Correia (11-5-1, 5-5-1 UFC) vs. by unanimous determination

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Bethe Correia thinks Spherical 1 is over, not realizing there are nonetheless 10 seconds left, and Pannie Kianzad takes benefit.

Kianzad has began placing collectively considerably of a run within the UFC’s ladies’s bantamweight division with two straight wins and three of 4.

After years of bouncing round promotions and struggling together with her weight reduce, Kianzad now has her first UFC successful streak, courtesy of a unanimous determination (30-27, 30-27, 29-28) victory over Correia, the previous UFC title challenger.

Kianzad appeared strong the entire battle together with her boxing and knees within the Thai clinch. She did strong harm on the finish of the primary when Correia thought the clacking sound that signifies there are 10 seconds left within the spherical meant that the spherical was over. Kianzad landed a tough mixture when Correia let her guard down.

Kianzad was the extra correct, highly effective striker all through. Correia had moments, together with strong ground-and-pound putting within the second spherical. However Kianzad confirmed off the higher stand-up.

Kianzad, the Iran-born Sweden native, had a crack on the Invicta FC bantamweight title in 2015, however missed weight. She moved as much as featherweight and went to the finals of the UFC’s Final Fighter ladies’s 145-pound event in 2018, falling to Macy Chiasson. Kianzad, 28, has appeared strong again at 135 kilos now.

Correia (11-5-1) has dropped three of 4 and has just one victory since 2016. The 37-year-old Brazilian famously fought Ronda Rousey in the primary occasion of UFC 190 in 2015. That is still Rousey’s final win.

— Raimondi

Watch this battle on ESPN+.


Welterweight: Ramazan Emeev (19-4, 4-1 UFC) defeats Niklas Stolze (12-4, 0-1 UFC) by unanimous determination

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Niklas Stolze lands an enormous knee to the chin of Ramazan Emeev on the finish of Spherical 1 of their bout at UFC Struggle Night time.

Emeev used 4 takedowns and several other spells of ahead strain to manage the battle for all however a number of moments and take the choice.

The 33-year-old Dagestani, who misplaced in November to Anthony Rocco Martin to finish a seven-fight successful streak, began sturdy and secured a submission try throughout the first half of Spherical 1, however Stolze, making his UFC debut on a four-fight successful streak, defended nicely and damage his opponent seconds earlier than the horn, dropping Emeev with a knee to the face.

However Emeev seized again management of what become a sluggish battle firstly of Spherical 2, and aside from absorbing the occasional low kick, jab or knee, saved the German on the defensive.

Two judges scored the bout 30-27, and the opposite had it 29-28.

“I felt very assured that I might end him couple of occasions,” Emeev mentioned. “However due to the 2 failed submission makes an attempt, my arms have been very heavy. I wasn’t rocked from his knee within the first spherical, and I felt that I dominated the battle. Subsequent time, I’ll get a end for certain. I really feel fully wholesome and wish to get again to the Octagon as quickly as doable.”

— Wagenheim

Watch this battle on ESPN+.


Males’s bantamweight: Nathaniel Wooden (17-4, 4-1 UFC) defeats John Castaneda (17-5, 0-1 UFC) by unanimous determination

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Nathaniel Wooden and John Castaneda commerce huge blows in the midst of Spherical 2 of their bout at UFC Struggle Night time.

Coming off a momentum-killing defeat earlier this 12 months, Wooden acquired himself proper again into the move with a poised and relentless assault.

The 26-year-old, who noticed an eight-fight successful streak ended by a John Dodson left hook in February, didn’t have it straightforward towards Castaneda, however his fluid motion and array of punches and kicks from all angles acquired him again on the successful monitor. All three judges scored the battle 30-27.

Castaneda, 28 and from Minnesota, placed on a powerful efficiency in his UFC debut. He acquired hit so much, bloodied within the second spherical, however by no means stopped coming ahead and clipped Wooden on many events. He simply couldn’t string collectively the sort of mixtures that saved Wooden, of London, a step forward.

“The battle was enjoyable,” Wooden mentioned. “It was good to really have a choice for a change. It was good to really undergo the three, 5 minutes and truly do what I am doing within the gymnasium. There’s nothing higher than getting into and getting a fast knockout, selecting up a bonus, these type of fights, nevertheless it’s good to really go in and have a battle, as such.

“The whole lot my coaches wished me to do was not brawl: Let’s not give him that probability of let’s commerce photographs. I do know it is enjoyable for the followers to look at, do not get me fallacious, I am nonetheless going to be doing it, and I nonetheless attempt to have just a little little bit of a go in there, however I knew I used to be up within the rounds, I knew I used to be the higher fighter, and I knew I’d outscore him. So for me to have a 50-50 change with him, I am giving him the advantage of the doubt and coming off a loss — I could not afford to try this. My coaches mentioned, ‘Be the sniper, decide the photographs, do not get right here,’ and that is what I’ve executed.”

— Wagenheim

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