UFC 238 started off with momentum, but came to a crashing halt in the main card's third fight of the night when Tony Ferguson drilled Donald Cerrone in the nose. The blow came decidedly after round two ended.
Following that punch, a disoriented Cerrone made the mistake of blowing his bloody nose. That caused his already injured right eye to swell up to the point that the doctor immediately ordered the fight to stop. Since the late punch tagged Cerrone's nose, and not his eye, Ferguson was awarded the fight by TKO.
The Cerrone-Ferguson fight was added to 238 to define the card, not disappoint. Despite the finish, Ferguson showed why he should be universally recognized as the top contender to whomever emerges as Lightweight champion. His unorthodox style, stamina and power all operate in an elite category.
In the main event for the vacant Bantamweight men's title, Henry Cejudo overcame a terrible opening round to dominate Marlon Moraes. Cejudo is now the Flyweight champ and Bantamweight champ, but instead of "Champ Champ," he is the "Triple C" with his two UFC championships and his Olympic championship in the form of a gold medal. Cejudo then rattled off his "hit list" of desired opponents, including Dominck Cruz, Cody Garbrandt and Urijah Faber, as well as announcing another goal of going up to 145 pounds and winning the Featherweight title. It will be interesting to see if the UFC drops the flyweight division and puts its muscle behind Cejudo in the bantamweight division.
Flyweight champ Valentina Shevchenko absolutely destroyed challenger Jessica Eye, ending the fight 26 seconds into the second round with a vicious kick to the head. Shevchenko showed again why she is the total package. The fight was her first title defense, but there is simply no one in the division who can compete with her.
In bantamweight action, Petr Yan tapped into his extraordinary talents to defeat Jimmie Rivera by unanimous decision, and the opener saw heavyweight Blagoy Ivanov defeat Tai Tuivasa after the judges scored the fight a unanimous decision.
The story of 238 will remain the short-changed nature of the Ferguson-Cerrone fight, Shevchenko’s domination and Cejudo continuing his climb up the mountain of top combat fighters in the world.
Main event for the vacant Bantamweight title: Henry Cejudo vs. Marlon Moraes — 1:05 a.m. ET
Round 3: Complete domination by Cejudo in the third round.
Cejudo was out-worked and out-smarted in the opening round, then entirely changed his game plan by unleashing a vicious attack on Moraes. He then set the pace, and the former Olympic gold medalist used his high-level wrestling to put Moraes away.
UFC has a new “Champ Champ,” as Henry Cejudo is the new undisputed Bantamweight and Flyweight champion.
Rounds 1 and 2: Moraes controlled the opening round, but round two belonged to Cejudo.
Pre-Fight: Henry Cejudo is also the reigning Flyweight champion. In addition to the potential of becoming the “Champ Champ” if he defeats Moraes, the UFC may decide to cut the Flyweight division altogether. But Moraes is a knockout specialist, so a Cejudo victory is no sure decision.
Women’s Flyweight title match: Champion Valentina Shevchenko vs. Jessica Eye — 12:27 a.m. ET
Decision: Shevchenko wins via KO.
Round 2: Just 26 seconds into the second round, Shevchenko dropped a vicious head kick on Eye for a knockout. The KO came seemingly out of nowhere, and Eye is still down on the mat.
Fortunately, Eye is no longer unconscious—but she was so discombobulated that she was unaware she was even knocked out. The Shevchenko reign continues, and she is now poised for a long run as Flyweight champion.
How can anyone beat Shevchenko at 125 pounds?
Round 1: Valentina Shevchenko’s first title defense will not last long.
Shevchenko opened the first round by dominating Eye, trapping her on the mat and putting Eye in a vulnerable position. If Eye plans on solving the Shevchenko puzzle, she is going to need to adjust her game plan in round two.
Lightweights: Tony Ferguson vs. Donald Cerrone — 12:01 a.m. ET
Decision: Ferguson wins the fight by TKO on doctor’s decision, which infuriated the crowd. The punch hit the nose, and not the eye, which is why Ferguson won via TKO. But my issue is that Ferguson drilled Cerrone in the nose, which he blew immediately after, causing the swelling in his eye.
The first two rounds were incredibly exciting, and round two served as a reminder of the brilliance of Ferguson. But that finish was a major letdown, and leaves a sour taste to 238.
Round 2: Ferguson dominated the second round, carrying so much power in his delivery. But he ended the round on a bad note, blatantly hitting Cerrone after the bell sounded. Cerrone’s right eye is swollen shut, and instant replay will review if that final punch from Ferguson landed on the nose or the eye.
Round 1: The pace will be telling. The more unorthodox it goes, the more it favors Tony Ferguson.
The fight opens with the two exchanging jabs. Cerrone controlled most of the action, and even more importantly, avoided Ferguson’s attempts at landing the full brunt of his elbow, which is simply vicious.
Pre-Fight:The first two fights were compelling for vastly different reasons, and we now prepare for a clash between Tony Ferguson and Donald Cerrone. It’s the Boogeyman vs. the Cowboy, in what equates to a No. 1 contender match for the Lightweight title.
Between fights, it was announced that the famed Clay Guida-Diego Sanchez fight from 2009 will enter the Fight Wing of the UFC Hall of Fame. The HOF induction ceremony will take place on Friday, July 5.
Bantamweights: Petr Yan vs. Jimmie Rivera — 11:22 p.m. ET
Decision: Yan takes this one by unanimous decision and was clear after the fight that he wants a shot at the Bantamweight title.
Round 3: Rivera refused to back down to Yan in the final round, leading to some fantastic exchanges in round three.
Both fighters fought with urgency, but the striking and precision were in Yan's favor. That fight was really entertaining, and it will be interesting to see how judges score it—but I’ll be surprised if Yan does not have his hand raised.
Round 2: Rivera’s speed has been kryptonite for Yan. His attack against Yan has been strategic, working the top and lower halves of the body. Yan is explosive enough to win this fight at any instant, and the Russian delivered a knockdown at the end of the second round. It was remarkable to watch how Yan completely altered the fight, beginning with a knee to Rivera’s face. Round three should be Yan’s moment.
Round 1: The opening round belonged to Rivera. His constant movement and counters are clearly bothering Yan, so the question will be if Yan can readjust in order to win this fight. The round ended with a brutal left hook from Yan.
Pre-Fight: No one enters to Bryan Adams this time, and we’ll see a very different style from the opening heavyweight clash, but this is also an important fight. The UFC has high hopes for Petr Yan, but he needs to back that up with a victory, beginning now.
Heavyweights: Blagoy Ivanov vs. Tai Tuivasa — 10:46 p.m. ET
Decision: And the winner by unanimous decision is Iganov, who controlled the fight and delivered some heavy shots. Ivanov is exhausted in the post-fight interview, but he withstood Tuivasa’s dynamic offense. That win should propel Ivanov into the top 10.
Round 3: Our opening fight goes the distance. Tuivasa’s inside leg kicks kept him in the fight, but Ivanov had the knockdown and two takedowns. Both fighters landed heavy shots for all three rounds.
Round 2: The two heavyweights are going to a third and decisive round.
Ivanov forced Tuivasa to tap to the guillotine, but it happened after the bell sounded the end of round two, which means Ivanov held on too long. Despite six years of youth on his side, Tuivasa is worn down.
Round 1: Tuivasa won the crowd early by entering the Octagon to the soothing sounds of Bryan Adams’ soft rock, but he was rocked hard throughout the opening round by Ivanov’s right hand. A southpaw by trade, Ivanov worked in a couple of shots with the left hand, too, and it looks like the end is near for Tuivasa.
Pre-Fight: As UFC 238 kicks off, let’s take a moment to enjoy the broadcast team. Jon Anik is doing play-by-play, and he is surrounded with a color commentary team of Joe Rogan and Daniel Cormier. It’s hard to put into relative terms, but if Kevin Durant were broadcasting the NBA Finals, then that may be a fair equivalent for Cormier on headset.
The opening fight is the heavyweights, Tai Tuivasa vs. Blagoy Ivanov. Tuivasa enters the fight as a slight underdog.
Welcome to our live coverage of UFC 238.
One through five, this is the deepest fight card so far in 2019. The fights all stand for something, with real stakes at play.
The most anticipated fight of the night is between Tony Fergson and “Cowboy” Donald Cerrone. Can Ferguson win his 12th straight fight? Or will Cerrone pick up the victory and finally secure a shot at gold? We’ll make sure to follow Conor McGregor’s Twitter feed throughout the night…
Plus, we’ll witness Valentina Shevchenko vs. Jessica for the women’s Flyweight title, as well as Henry Cejudo and Marlon Moraes fighting for the vacant Bantamweight title. Cejudo’s Flyweight title is also significant, as a victory may mean that UFC drops the entire flyweight division to instead focus on the bantamweights.
UFC 238 opens with questions but will end with answers. Let the fights begin.