With McGregor’s trilogy clash with Poirier taking centre stage at the top of the bill, stars were born and unbeaten streaks were ended. Here are five things you may have missed.
Gilbert Burns gets back to winning ways
Kamaru Usman‘s former teammate-turned-rival Gilbert Burns got back to winning ways Saturday night.
His grappling superiority ultimately proved to be the difference as the Brazilian ground out a unanimous decision win (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) over Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Burns (20-4) went 3 for 6 in takedown attempts with a takedown success rate of 50% to defeat Thompson, who fell to 16-5-1.
Tai Tuivasa celebrates in style in Las Vegas
For the third time in a row, UFC fan favourite Tai Tuivasa knocked out his opponent in the first round, as the Australian recorded an impressive victory over Greg Hardy after entering the Octagon to the sound of the Spice Girls’ ‘Wannabe’.
The former AFC heavyweight champion has made several changes to his training camp and it appears to be paying off as he has now knocked out all three of his opponents in his last three appearances as he aims for a spot at the top of the rankings.
Tuivasa landed some heavy leg kicks inside the first 30 seconds and despite Hardy’s early success, Bam Bam’s punching power proved to be too much for the ex-NFL pro baller, which secured him a ‘Performance of the Night’ bonus in the process. He also celebrated with a traditional shoey to cap off a successful night at the office.
Sean O’Malley outclasses Kris Moutinho in ‘Fight of the Night’ thriller
Sean O’Malley (14-1) is showing no signs of a hangover having lost his undefeated record to Marlon Vera last year with a vintage performance against the game Kris Moutinho. Both fighters earned ‘Fight of the Night’ honours for their efforts.
Previously beaten O’Malley was shocked in Las Vegas by Vera, with a devastating defeat to the Colombian, who came in as a sizeable betting underdog to upset the odds at the UFC Apex.
But O’Malley has successfully bounced back from that loss with back-to-back wins over seasoned MMA veterans, including former Legacy FC bantamweight champion Thomas Almeida, as he bids to get his career back on track.
Victory over the debuting Moutinho earlier this week came via a third-round TKO as O’Malley’s fine form continued. So far in 2021, the Dana White‘s Contender Series alumni has won both of his fights in the UFC, meaning he only needs one more win to equal his best-ever start to a calendar year.
Ilia Topuria looks comfortable against Ryan Hall
On the preliminary card, Ryan Hall‘s eight-fight winning streak came to an end following defeat to Ilia Topuria, leaving the Georgian-Spanish mixed martial artist with an unblemished professional record instead.
Topuria (11-0) showed no respect whatsoever for Hall’s skills set as he methodically picked apart his experienced opponent with a statement performance at UFC 264 before bludgeoning Hall with ground strikes to earn a KO stoppage.
The end came with just seconds left on the clock in the first round as ‘El Matador’ moves to 3-0 in the UFC with a 11-0 record overall.
“in the gym where I grow up, we have close to thirty black belts,” Topuria said in his post-fight interview. “And for me, Ryan’s game was very familiar, and when they offered me the fight I said, ‘f— yes, I’m going to knock this guy out in the first round.’
“I think I caught him with the first punch and when I see his reaction on the ground I said, ‘wow, I think this guy is knocked out’, and I keep punching him and finally I put him to sleep.”
Dricus Du Plessis enjoying life in the UFC
Last, but by no means least, it looks like Dricus Du Plessis is going to be a problem for a lot of the middleweights on the UFC roster.
There was no feeling-out process with this one, as Du Plessis and Trevin Giles started trading hell for leather right from the start.
A minute in, Giles clipped Du Plessis, but the South African gathered his wits about him before dropping Giles with a crushing right hand and following up on the ground for a knockout victory at 1 minute, 41 seconds of the second round of the preliminary card curtain raiser.