There was no shortage of action at UFC Fight Night 143 in Brooklyn—even if there might have been a shortage of long fights.
Henry Cejudo retained his UFC flyweight championship belt by knocking out T.J. Dillashaw just 32 seconds into their title fight at Barclays Center on Saturday. In the co-main event, former NFL defensive lineman Greg Hardy was disqualified in the second round after attempting an illegal knee to the back of the head of Allen Crowder in their heavyweight clash. Both finishes led to boos throughout the Barclays Center, but the rest of the card provided plenty of fights worth cheering for, featuring several exciting finishes as the UFC made its debut on ESPN.
The night also saw major wins for two UFC veterans—Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone and Glover Teixeira—who reignited their careers with wins over Alexander Hernandez and Karl Roberson, respectively. And it even included a news-making cameo from Conor McGregor (on Twitter).
For blow-by-blow analysis of Saturday's card, check out SI.com's analysis of each fight below.
• Dennis Bermudez def. Te Edwards (lightweight)
• Geoff Neal def. Belal Muhammad by decision (welterweight)
• Chance Rencountre def. Kyle Stewart via first-round submission (welterweight)
Cory Sandhagen def. Mario Bautista via first-round submission (bantamweight)
The UFC's much-anticipated debut on ESPN didn't get off to a smooth start... thanks to Duke-Virginia. Zion Williamson and the Blue Devils were still on the floor when hordes of MMA fans tuned in to ESPN expecting to see UFC action for the first time. Shortly after Duke pulled out the win, Cory Sandhagen made quick work of Mario Bautista in the first prelim, taking him to the mat and forcing him to tap with an arm-bar submission less than four minutes into the fight. Good choice, Mario. Arms are a good thing.
Alonzo Menifield def. Vincius Moreira via first-round TKO (light heavyweight)
Well, I just witnessed the first truly vicious beatdown of the night. Alonzo Menifield annihilated Vincius Moreira with a couple of devastating rights before staggering him and finishing him on the ground. He threw the type of haymakers that you could feel in the balcony, connecting repeatedly before Moreira was no longer to defend himself. Moreira tried to take Menifield to take the ground a couple of times, but he didn't get far and didn't have much of a chance while standing up. According to UFC fight stats, Menifield landed 33 punches in the fight—32 of which went to Moreira's head. Oof.
Joanne Calderwood def. Ariane Lipski by unanimous decision (women's flyweight)
It's tough to live up to the nickname "Queen of Violence"—and I'm afraid to report Ariane Lipski failed to do so Saturday night. While Lipski clearly boasted the better marketing campaign (seriously, what a nickname!), Calderwood controlled the entire fight. Calderwood kept Lipski at bay and controlled the distance with a series of space-creating kicks, but she also did plenty of damage from close range, landing a barrage of strikes and maintaining the upper hand on the ground. There were a couple of close submission attempts by Calderwood—but the "Queen of Violence" was at least the "Princess of Fending Things Off Respectably" tonight.
Donald Cerrone def. Alexander Hernandez via second-round TKO (lightweight, featured prelim)
ESPN gave fans a treat when they put Cerrone-Hernandez on the prelims—and it turned out to be even more satisfying than expected. Cerrone and Hernandez provided nonstop action from the first bell, inflicting tons of damage without playing a ton of defense. Cerrone mean-mugged Hernandez the whole time, delivering blows with a scowl. It wasn't long until Hernandez had several cuts on his face and Cerrone wasted no time opening them up further. Cerrone kept dishing, Hernandez kept taking.
The fight ended with an awesome barrage by Cerrone that lit the Barclays Center on fire. In the octagon afterward, the longtime UFC vet said he wants a shot at Conor McGregor. It's a long shot for Dana White to make, but judging by the reception Cowboy got in Brooklyn on Saturday, it'd be a fan-favorite matchup.
Glover Teixeira def. Karl Roberson via first-round arm triangle (Light heavyweight)
Imagine being 39 years old and entering a UFC octagon. Now imagine being 39 years old, fighting someone 11 years younger than you, and forcing them to tap out in the first round! Glover Teixeira is a UFC OG and the veteran showed he's still a force to reckon with by submitting Karl Roberson (previously 7–1) just minutes into their fight. Roberson jumped out to an early advantage, dishing some devastating elbows to Teixeira and suggesting this would be a quick fight. In the end, it did turn out to be a quick fight, but only because Teixeira reversed the fortunes quickly, taking the kickboxer to the ground and using his jiu-jitsu to finish him off.
And here's one killer post-fight quote from Teixeira to cap it off: "“I was like, ‘There’s no way this guy is going to beat me here.’ He surprised me, because he was ferocious on those elbows. He hurt me, but I’m in good shape. I’m just happy to be back. I’m a veteran. It’s not my first rodeo and I was able to overcome.”
Paige VanZant def. Rachael Ostovich via second-round armbar (Women’s flyweight)
Rachael Ostovich controlled the first round, taking Paige VanZant down repeatedly and maintaining her position on top. But she wasn't able to do much with it—and the second round was a different story. While Ostovich took VanZant down again, it would be a decision she’d ultimately regret. VanZant pretzeled her way into the dominant position and was able to secure an arm-bar submission in the second round. Added bonus: Ronda Rousey UFC achievement unlocked!
The fight ended in flash. With the two fighters tangled, Ostovich tapped—but not before VanZant heard her opponent's arm pop out of socket, leading both fighters to jump away from the action as the ref stopped the fight.
Joseph Benavidez def. Dustin Ortiz by unanimous decision (Flyweight)
If we're being honest (and where else better for honesty than a UFC live blog?) this was the most boring fight of the night. Benavidez and Ortiz were extremely evenly matched—leading to a ho-hum fight that was narrowly won by the better man. All three judges gave Benavidez gave him the win 29–28. Who am I to question their decision?
In more exciting news... the Thunder are in the building after getting a win over the 76ers in Philly a few hours ago!
Gregor Gillespie def. Yancy Medeiros via second-round submission (Lightweight)
Gregor Gillespie made for the slow fight before him, lighting Barclays Center back up with his fourth straight finish in the Octagon. Gillespie controlled the clash and once he took Medeiros to the ground it got ugly quick. In fact, Gillespie only took one significant strike the entire fight.
Next up...the second most-anticipated clash of the night... Greg Hardy's UFC debut. Here come the boos.
Allen Crowder def. Greg Hardy via second-round DQ (Heavyweight)
Greg Hardy was more or less kicked out of the NFL... and the UFC might be next. Making his UFC debut after just three professional fights, Hardy looked gassed after one round and resorted to extremely dangerous tactics in round two. Hardy was disqualified after trying to knee Crowder in the back of the head. The referee instantly blew the action dead and shook his head in disbelief. Hardy was disqualified and boos reigned down from everywhere in the Barclays Center.
Hardy was already a big risk by the UFC—and this might cement his fate. This isn't worth the bad press. Hardy isn't much of a fighter—more of a dirty brawler—and we saw tonight what he does when he faces adversary. Crowder gave Hardy all he could handle before trash-taking him in the second round...leading to Hardy losing his control and trying a dirty move. It's a disappointing DQ for the co-main event...and Brooklyn didn't hold back letting him know how they felt.
Henry Cejudo def. T.J. Dillashaw via first-round TKO (UFC flyweight title)
How long did the UFC Fight Night 143 main event last? About as long as it took you to read that last sentence. Henry Cejudo notched an absolutely stunning knockout of T.J. Dillashaw in the first round, catching him in the opening exchange and staggering him to the ground. From there, Cejudo pounced and fired strike after strike until the ref pulled him off and called the fight. Dillashaw and everyone else in the Barclays Center is absolutely stunned by the quick finale—but there's no doubt in the decision. Cejudo seized control, didn't let go, and finished him off before Dillashaw could regain his breath and footing.
Most expected Cejudo-Dillashaw to go into the fifth round, instead it didn't even make it to the second minute.
“I’ve busted my butt my whole life. I was able to beat one of the greatest of all time," Cejudo said after the fight. "It’s surreal. I knew he was hurt. I caught him with that head kick and felt him wobble. The rest was history.”
Cejudo retains his flyweather belt with the win over Dillashaw. It's not clear if this is the end of the division as we know it in the UFC—but if it was, it went out in style.