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UFC 248 results: Sean O'Malley's 'Suga Show 2.0' a hit

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O'Malley: Hard to put into words what winning return means (0:33)

After winning in his UFC return, Sean O'Malley says it's difficult to put his emotions into words. For more UFC, sign up here for ESPN+ http://plus.espn.com/ufc. (0:33)

Two years and four days since he last was allowed inside the Octagon, Sean O'Malley finally made his return. And it was a triumphant one.

O'Malley, who was one of the UFC's hottest young prospects before a failed drug test derailed his hype train, picked up right where he left off with a fluid and powerful performance in finishing Jose Quinonez in the first round on Saturday night in the featured prelim of UFC 248 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

O'Malley, 25, ran his record to 11-0 and unofficially didn't absorb a shot. He came out showing off speedy footwork and potent kicks, and Quinonez never got close. He tried, but when the Mexican charged forward nearly two minutes in, O'Malley dropped him with a counter right hand. Quinonez quickly climbed to his feet, but O'Malley immediately floored him again with a head kick, then delivered hammer fists before the referee jumped in at 2 minutes and 2 seconds.

After having his hand raised, O'Malley had an emotional moment before he could be interviewed inside the cage.

"It's hard to put into words," O'Malley said. "You can't really put it into words. It feels good."

He then watched a video replay of the finishing sequence and noted that he's not the same fighter he was when he left two years ago.

"Yeah, definitely Suga Show 2.0," he said. "I have so many more tools and so much more sweet finishes. I wanted to show more, but it is what it is."

This fight was scheduled to take place in October 2018, but O'Malley was pulled from the bout after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency found the banned substance ostarine in his system. He was suspended for six months, and upon his return last year he was scheduled for a fight but once again was pulled after failing another test because of the presence of the same substance.

"I felt great in there, it definitely doesn't feel like it's been two years, but it's good to be back," O'Malley said. "I've been through a lot to get here. I had two surgeries, two pulled fights, it was a lot. I didn't know how I would feel making that walk, I tried to picture it in my head so many times, but you never know until you are out there.

"I felt great, it felt right. I think I'm the best MMA striker out there. I know a lot of people won't agree with that because they haven't really got to see it, but I truly believe I am the best MMA striker. I can throw anything from either stance and I have so many tools, especially when I'm out there with people that I know I am way better than. I never had a consistent strength and conditioning coach in between camps, but I have that now and I feel way better. I've put on good muscle and I can really tell. I trained so hard and so much for this, it's hard to put into words just how much all of this means. I'd like to come back as quickly as possible now really, I'm not hurt, I'm in shape, so whatever they call with."

Quinonez (8-4) has lost two of his past three fights.

Watch this fight on ESPN+.


Results:

Middleweight: Israel Adesanya (19-0) defeats Yoel Romero (13-4) by unanimous decision

Yoel Romero started the main event against Israel Adesanya standing completely motionless, covering his face with his hands in a shell-like guard. Things didn't get any less weird as the fight wore on.

In one of the least active and most bizarre title fights in UFC history, Adesanya successfully defended his middleweight title against Romero via unanimous decision in the main event of UFC 248 at T-Mobile Arena.

Read the entire story.


Strawweight: Zhang Weili (21-1) defeats Joanna Jedrzejczyk (16-4) by split decision

A chaotic training camp and a superb effort from one of the most decorated champions in UFC history was still not enough to topple Zhang Weili.

Zhang (21-1) recorded the first defense of her 115-pound title on Saturday, as she defeated former five-time defending champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk (16-4) via split decision in a five-round fight that will go down as one of the greatest in the division's history. The bout co-headlined UFC 248 at T-Mobile Arena.

Read the entire story.


Lightweight: Beneil Dariush (18-4-1) defeats Drakkar Klose (11-2-1) by second-round KO

Dariush loaded up on a left haymaker and did not miss. He crushed Klose with the punch, sending him limp into the fence. Dariush's punch nearly sent Klose's mouthguard fully out of his mouth.

It was quite the twist of fortunes. Just seconds earlier, Klose rocked Dariush with a right hand and was closing in for a flurry of his own when Dariush caught Klose with a counter right that wobbled him.

It was an absolutely wild sequence of events and the first time Klose had ever been finished.

Dariush has 12 victories since joining the UFC lightweight division in 2014, the most by any lightweight in that time, per ESPN Stats & Information research.

In the first round, Dariush rode out most of the five minutes on Klose's back working for a rear-naked choke. It never came, but it was a dominant round. And at the end, it ended up an excellent victory for the Kings MMA product. Dariush, 30, has won four straight, the past three by stoppage. The Iran native, who lives and trains in California, is 6-2-1 in his past nine fights.

Klose, a 30-year-old Arizona resident, had won three straight coming in.

-- Raimondi

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Welterweight: Neil Magny (22-8) defeats Li Jingliang (17-6) by unanimous decision

Returning to the Octagon after a career-long absence of 476 days, Magny made up for lost time with an all-around masterful performance. Li had some moments early, but Magny, who had been sidelined by a drug-test failure, persevered through the best that the Chinese fighter could bring and quickly turned the fight his way.

Though Li scored two takedowns in the opening session, Magny avoided any damage and quickly got the fight back to standing. Li put out a lot of energy in getting the takedowns and had little to show for them.

The second round was all Magny. Unofficially, he had a 58-1 edge in total strikes in the round, with much of his work coming from in close. Magny was glued to Li's chest the whole way, never giving his opponent room to work. The American had a pair of takedowns.

It was more of the same in Round 3 as Magny had a 44-7 edge in strikes and added a takedown. Li kept coming, trying to get back into the fight with his power. But Magny fought smartly, engaging in exchanges against the cage, then slipping away and out of any potential peril.

For Magny, it was his third win in four fights -- although that run stretches back to 2017.

Li saw his three-fight winning streak end. He had won seven of eight.

"It feels great to finally get back in there and win," Magny said. "Over the last year now, I've been finding myself in a real down place. I've put that all behind me now and came out on top tonight, so it feels great. In a weird way, this time off has been a blessing. It allowed me to spend a lot of time with family, even grow my family back at home.

"I also made some changes in my camp and made sure we were doing everything as well as possible. We went back and looked at my last five fights, the wins and losses, and really looked at where I could improve. One of the biggest things we found was foot positioning, I feel like we addressed that well tonight. Another thing is pressure, I wanted to sit back and calculate a little bit more, so it's been improvement all around. I think this gets me right back in the mix. The division has been shaken up a bit since I've been gone, but I showed tonight that I can jump back in there with the best of them, so I'd love to jump back in there with [Michael] Chiesa."

Chiesa tweeted that he accepted the challenge

-- Wagenheim

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Welterweight: Alex Oliveira (20-8-1) defeats Max Griffin (15-8) by split decision

Oliveira hugged his coaches, then embraced Griffin and raised his hand. It was clearly an emotional moment, snapping a three-fight losing streak.

"I want to fight again," Oliveira said afterward. "Give me another one."

Oliveira came away with a hard-fought split-decision win to open the main card. Oliveira opened up a nasty cut on Griffin's forehead with an uppercut in the second round and seemed to only gain momentum from there.

Griffin had a very solid first round. He snapped Oliveira's head back with several right hands and landed a nice trip takedown out of a clinch.

The uppercut seemed to be what shifted things. The cut from the punch was so bad that referee Mark Smith asked the ringside doctor to come in to check on it.

Griffin was able to continue, but was never the same. Oliveira landed a nice Superman punch in the second and put Griffin on his back in the third. Late in the third, Griffin mounted a comeback, sweeping Oliveira and landing some short elbows from half guard. But the damage had been done and the judges awarded Oliveira the victory.

Oliveira, 32, was potentially fighting for his UFC job. The Brazilian, nicknamed "Cowboy," had not won since 2018.

Griffin, a 34-year-old California native, has lost four of five.

-- Raimondi

Watch this fight on ESPN+.


Lightweight: Mark O. Madsen (10-0) def. Austin Hubbard (11-4) by unanimous decision

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Madsen suplexes Hubbard to the mat

Early in Round 1, Mark O. Madsen takes Austin Hubbard for a ride that Daniel Cormier approves. For more UFC, sign up here for ESPN+ http://plus.espn.com/ufc.

For two rounds, Madsen had his way with Hubbard. The former Olympic silver medalist in Greco Roman wrestling was stuck to Hubbard like glue, grinding him out and putting him on the ground with his superior grappling. Hubbard got Madsen in some trouble in the third. But it was not enough.

Madsen earned a unanimous decision (29-28 on all three cards) win. He remains an intriguing older prospect in the lightweight division with his wrestling pedigree.

In the first, Madsen landed a huge German suplex that drove Hubbard to the mat. He worked for several chokes. The second round was much of the same. Madsen landed takedown after takedown and nearly had a D'arce choke at one point.

But Hubbard remained game. He landed a big knee in the clinch in the third round, rocking his opponent. Hubbard, clearly seeing Madsen's tendency to lean to his right in the clinch, landed two more nice knees and a spinning elbow on a clinch separation. Madsen was hurt and possibly tired, but time ran out before Hubbard could get the finish he needed to win.

Madsen, 35, has won both of his UFC fights and remains undefeated. The 2016 Olympian out of Denmark landed 8 of 12 takedowns and had almost eight minutes of control time. Hubbard, a 28-year-old Illinois native, had won four of five coming in.

Madsen was transported to the hospital after the fight for precautionary reasons.

-- Raimondi

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Middleweight: Rodolfo Vieira (7-0) defeats Saparbek Safarov (9-3) by arm triangle in the first round

The lesson for all UFC middleweights: Don't go kicking Vieira in the face. If you do, your kick had better finish him, or watch out.

Safarov landed a front kick to the chin in the fight's first minute, and it shook Vieira, who went on retreat momentarily to get his bearings. Within seconds, though, he changed direction and took down the Russian, who briefly put up a fight on the canvas before succumbing to a head-and-arm choke at 2:58 of Round 1.

Vieira, a four-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion and a seven-time World Cup champion, made it look like another day at the office in running his record to 7-0. But the day at the office did not come without damage. As he was waiting to have his arm raised, Vieira was holding a towel against the left side of his face. And when he moved the towel away, it revealed a badly swollen left eye, apparently suffered during the grappling scramble.

His finish was relentless and efficient. Once he had Safarov on the canvas, he quickly gained back control and was looking for a rear-naked choke. Safarov has a combat sambo background and was wise to the danger of being flattened out on his stomach, so he maneuvered onto his back. But that was no safe haven as Vieira simply switched to a different choke and finished the job.

"I knew I had to end it in the first round," Vieira said through an interpreter, "because it would have been hard to continue the fight without being able to see out of the left eye."

Viera was transported to the hospital after the fight for precautionary reasons.

-- Wagenheim

Watch this fight on ESPN+.


Middleweight: Gerald Meerschaert (30-12) defeats Deron Winn (6-2) by rear-naked choke in the third round

For most of the fight, it was Winn landing the haymakers and Meerschaert trying to keep him from closing the distance with straight punches and a steady diet of jabs.

In the end, it was Meerschaert who landed the biggest blow of the bout -- a left hand that rocked Winn and led to the finish. Meerschaert picked up a very nice submission win at 2:13 of the third round.

After Meerschaert wobbled Winn, he picked up the pressure and landed a combination. Winn slipped, Meerschaert pounced and then ended up on Winn's back.

Meerschaert, an opportunistic submission specialist, saw an opening and cinched in a rear-naked choke. It was the 22nd submission win of Meerschaert's career and his 28th finish in 30 career wins.

The shorter Winn landed the harder blows in the first round. He was able to get inside Meerschaert's range and land hard shots. Meerschaert had a black right eye before the conclusion of the round, but he made adjustments in the second by using a very nice jab to keep Winn at bay and landing multiple body shots.

In the third, Winn got off to a nice start and actually momentarily stunned Meerschaert with a big right hand that he loaded up on. But Meerschaert's precise combos ended up leading to the finish.

Meerschaert, 32, has won two of his past three bouts. The Wisconsin native has compiled a 6-4 record in the UFC's middleweight division.

"I'm not overall thrilled with my performance, but I'm happy with the win," Meerschaert said. "Putting him away was good, he did catch me, he's a tough guy, but it feels great to get back in there and get another submission. This is a big confidence boost for me. It lets me and everyone else know that I belong and that I'm here to stay."

Winn, a 30-year-old California native and protégé of former champion Daniel Cormier, started 6-0 before losing his past two, including a split decision to Darren Stewart last October.

-- Raimondi

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Featherweight: Giga Chikadze (9-2) defeats Jamall Emmers (17-5) by split decision

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Chikadze, Emmers have wild ending to Round 1

In the final seconds of the first round, Giga Chikadze and Jamall Emmers each attempt a spinning strike at the same time. For more UFC, sign up here for ESPN+ http://plus.espn.com/ufc.

By the end, it was Emmers who looked like the world-class striker, but Chikadze's strong start was enough to earn him the nod on two of the three 29-28 scorecards.

That's four wins a row for Chikadze, the past two in the UFC. The native of the nation of Georgia, who now is based at Kings MMA in Southern California, is a former professional kickboxer, and that pedigree showed early on. He came out with a spinning back fist, which missed but set the tone. For the rest of Round 1 and for much of the second, Chikadze kept the fight at his preferred range with kicks from distance.

But Emmers, who was making his UFC debut while riding a four-fight winning streak, gradually closed the distance, and a minute and a half into the second round he got his first takedown. He didn't do much with it, but once he introduced wrestling into the fight, things began to turn his way.

Chikadze appeared to tire as the fight wore on, with his punches and kicks coming less frequently and with less steam on them. According to UFC Stats, Emmers outlanded Chikadze 54-38 in significant strikes, including 32-13 in Round 3. But in the view of two judges, Chikadze had done enough out of the gate.

Chikadze was transported to the hospital after the fight for precautionary reasons.

-- Wagenheim

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Bantamweight: Danaa Batgerel (7-2) defeats Guido Cannetti (8-6) by first-round KO

Training at JacksonWink MMA is paying off. Batgerel, who did this training camp at the Albuquerque, New Mexico, gym, stopped Cannetti via knockout at 3:01 of the first round in the UFC 248 prelim opener.

Batgerel landed several nice combinations that snapped Cannetti's head back in the early minutes. The knockout punch was a beautiful left hook off a counter of a Cannetti punch. Cannetti dropped to the canvas and Batgerel pounced with ground-and-pound.

Batgerel, 30, earned his first UFC victory. The Mongolia native was won three of his past four fights.

"Feels great to get my first UFC win," Batgerel said. "I wasn't nervous at all, I was ready for this."

Cannetti, a 40-year-old Argentina native, has dropped two straight and three of his past four.

-- Raimondi

Watch this fight on ESPN+.