The finish might have been a bit anticlimactic. But it was exactly what Brandon Moreno needed as he pushes toward a title shot.
Somewhere in a wild grappling scramble, Moreno's opponent, Brandon Royval, dislocated his right shoulder. Moreno, in top position, rained down blows to Royval's head and Royval called out in pain, forcing referee Marc Goddard to step in and call it.
Officially, Moreno took home a TKO victory at 4 minutes, 59 seconds of the first round Saturday in the UFC 255 prelims in Las Vegas.
"I don't know what happened in the fight," Moreno said. "I just know I'm the winner right now."
After the conclusion of the fight, Royval's coach, Marc Montoya, popped Royval's shoulder back into its socket.
The bout had major implications for the UFC flyweight division. Going in, ESPN had Moreno ranked No. 3 and Royval ranked No. 8 in the world at 125 pounds. The victory puts Moreno in line for a title shot that he had hoped to get Saturday night. Instead, the UFC tabbed former bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt to fight Deiveson Figueiredo. When Garbrandt withdrew, the UFC chose Alex Perez, not Moreno, as the substitute.
"To be honest, I was very sad when UFC [gave] Cody Garbrandt the opportunity for the title," Moreno said. "You know what? I don't care. I don't need a title. I need to be the best in the division. If I wanted a title, I could buy one in the UFC Store."
Royval had success on his feet early, but Moreno was able to take his back while standing after a Royval spinning back elbow attempt. Moreno got Royval down and had back control for the duration of the round, though he didn't do a ton of damage. Royval scrambled out, but Moreno was quick to get back into top position. It seemed like during that particular scramble is when Royval injured his arm. Moreno, undeterred, kept the pressure on and landed hammerfists and punches to Royval's head until Goddard stepped in.
Moreno (18-5-1) is unbeaten in five consecutive fights and has three straight wins. The Mexico native has not lost since 2018. Moreno, 26, has won six fights since 2016, the second-most UFC flyweight victories after Figueiredo (eight).
"I was very nervous in that fight, because Brandon Royval came to this fight with nothing to lose," Moreno said. "I put everything on the line this night for me -- my ranking, all my work, all my experience in the company. I was very nervous. I'm so happy right now to be here and get the W.
"I hope UFC respects my position, my work in this company. This night was special for me. I won in the first round. I get the W in the first round against Brandon Royval; he's dangerous. I think he's the future of this sport in the flyweight division. Tonight is my night and I'm the next one for the title shot."
After Figueiredo beat Perez in the main event, he called out the person he thinks should get the next shot at his belt.
"I want to face Brandon Moreno," Figueiredo said. "[UFC president Dana White], make this happen. That's the fight that I want to happen."
White said later Saturday that he'll make Figueiredo vs. Moreno for December.
Royval (12-5) had a four-fight winning streak snapped. The 28-year-old Colorado native was a perfect 2-0 in the UFC until Saturday, both victories coming in the past six months.
-- Marc Raimondi
The UFC's flyweight division, once maligned for having fighters too small and bouts that were too dull, has been completely turned on its head by the man nicknamed "God of War."
Deiveson Figueiredo finished Alex Perez via guillotine choke at 1:57 of the first round Saturday night to retain the UFC flyweight title in the main event of UFC 255 in Las Vegas.
The incredibly fast, explosive Figueiredo found Perez's neck in a scramble, locked in the choke and squeezed until Perez tapped out. It was Figueiredo's first title defense.
Valentina Shevchenko's dominance has reached the point where MMA fans are shocked when she loses a round.
Shevchenko (20-3) defended the UFC's 125-pound championship for the fourth time on Saturday, defeating Jennifer Maia (18-7-1) by unanimous decision. All three judges scored it a blowout win for the champ, 49-46. Shevchenko earned a $50,000 performance-of-the-night bonus.
-- Brett Okamoto
Means used Perry's face as a punching bag for the better part of three rounds and avoided most of the heavy attacks coming back his way to win the favor of all three judges.
Perry did have his moments in the first round, when he took the fight to the canvas and secured back control on Means, threatening to get his first career submission. But by round's end, Means was back on his feet and peppering Perry with straight punches to the face.
Means, a 36-year-old from Albuquerque, New Mexico, had much success the rest of the way because Perry kept going straight at him, slowly and not moving his head. That presented a good target for Means, who by the final horn had landed 127 significant strikes (to 73 by Perry) and turned Perry's face into a reddened, bloated bull's-eye.
Means is a veteran of 45 professional fights and he did the professional thing by making weight. Perry did not. The 29-year-old from Orlando, Florida, weighed in 4.5 pounds over the welterweight non-title fight limit on Friday, then posed on the scale as if he'd just won a door prize rather than lost 30% of his purse.
Means has won consecutive fights for the first time since 2016. Perry has lost three of his past four.
-- Jeff Wagenheim
Once again, Chookagian has kept herself afloat in the UFC women's flyweight title pool.
The perennial contender beat Calvillo via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) in a bout that will surely have ramifications in the 125-pound division. Going in, ESPN had Chookagian ranked No. 5 and Calvillo ranked No. 7 in the weight class. Chookagian called it an "easy win" and that her sparring under the guidance of coach Mark Henry was more difficult.
Chookagian constantly kept Calvillo at bay on the feet. Calvillo, known most for her wrestling and grappling, never took Chookagian down. Instead, it was a striking battle -- and Chookagian used her length and reach perfectly. She kept Calvillo at distance, on the end of her punches. And it was extremely effective.
By the end of the first round, Calvillo was bleeding from a cut on her nose. In the second, more blood was present and Calvillo was wearing damage on her right eye. Calvillo landed some hard shots in the third round. But Chookagian definitely kept the fight at the pace, rhythm and distance she needed for the win.
Chookagian, 31, fell to champion Valentina Shevchenko via third-round TKO at UFC 247 in February. The New York resident rebounded from that loss to beat Shevchenko's older sister, Antonina, in May. She rallied again Saturday night from a first-round TKO loss to Jessica Andrade last month. Calvillo, a 33-year-old California native, was unbeaten in four straight fights going in and could have earned a title shot with a win.
One year later, they ran it back, and it was a totally different fight.
Whereas Craig had only one takedown and mainly hurt Rua in the standup during a November 2019 bout that ended in a split draw, the 32-year-old Scotsman was relentless with his wrestling this time, landing two takedowns in each round on his way to finishing a helpless "Shogun" with strikes on the ground at 3:36 of Round 2.
Craig took Rua to the canvas twice in the first round, initially less than a minute and a half into the fight, then with just under two minutes to go. He threatened submissions both times, but the second time he had Rua down, the Brazilian reversed into top position and landed some sharp strikes.
But Rua, a 38-year-old from Curitiba, Brazil, had little other offense to offer. The former champion in both the UFC and Pride, who went into the fight on a bit of a career resurgence with just one defeat in his previous eight fights, became visibly tired the more grappling Craig put him through. When Craig flattened him out on his stomach midway through Round 2, and Herb Dean called on him to show some fight, he instead tapped out before the ref could call it.
Buckley keeps KO streak alive with quick finish in Round 2
Fresh off his viral knockout in October, Joaquin Buckley finishes Jordan Wright in their prelim bout at UFC 255.
What was Buckley going to do for an encore after turning in the knockout of the year last month?
That was the burning question for those who had seen Buckley's ridiculous leaping, spinning back-kick KO six weeks ago.
But this time, Buckley did not make the highlight reel with his feet. This time he used his fists, and for the second straight time he handed an opponent his first career loss.
Buckley showed that the highlight reel wasn't an accident.— Herbert Burns (@HerbertBurnsMMA) November 22, 2020
Lots of power and this time used his hands to get the KO#UFC255
Buckley, a 26-year-old from St. Louis, fought like someone carrying the pressure of expectations. He threw every punch from the hip, and early on that did not serve him well, as many of his haymakers hit nothing but air. But in the final seconds of the first round, Buckley clipped Wright with a flurry of punches and dropped him. He didn't have time before the horn to finish the fight, but he had his opponent hurt.
How hurt? Buckley wasted no time after the break to find out. He went right at Wright at the start of Round 2 and dropped him, and referee Herb Dean jumped in quickly as Buckley was unloading another flurry of punches. The end came at 18 seconds of the round.
For Buckley, it was his second straight victory after dropping his UFC debut. And it was his second straight $50,000 performance-of-the-night bonus.
"I feel blessed," Buckley said. "I'm just thankful that we got that knockout. We just stayed patient and waited on the opportunity. Once I saw him crumble, I tried to get to him, but Herb Dean already saved him. I wasn't going to show no more mercy after that second round."
Wright, 29, fights out of Los Angeles. He showed strong standup early, keeping Buckley at distance and avoiding big shots. But even when he was landing kicks to the body, they did not prevent his opponent from advancing. It seemed like just a matter of time. And it was.
Shevchenko dominates Lipski on the ground for TKO win
The referee is forced to stop the fight as Ariane Lipski is unable to fight back with Antonina Shevchenko on top of her and unleashing a downpour of punches.
A multiple-time world Muay Thai champion like her sister, Valentina, Antonina Shevchenko is known for her striking skills. But both sisters have mastered the other aspects of MMA, as well. And Antonina demonstrated that Saturday night.
Shevchenko stopped Lipski via TKO at 4:33 of the second round in a women's flyweight bout. Shevchenko used her wrestling and grappling skills to get Lipski down in both rounds. From there, she got into dominant position and landed hard ground-and-pound until referee Chris Tognoni pulled her off.
In the first round, Shevchenko took Lipski down with a head-and-arm throw. She nearly lost position in a scramble, but Shevchenko got in top position and landed punches. Shevchenko got Lipski down again in the second with a throw, ended up in mount and then took Lipski's back. All the while, Shevchenko was landing punches.
"I did what I want to do -- improve as a fighter," Shevchenko said in her postfight interview. "Improve my grappling, improve my wrestling. ... You have to be good everywhere."
Shevchenko, who celebrated her 36th birthday Friday, has won three of five fights in the UFC. The Kyrgyzstan native has two finishes in her past three fights. Lipski, a 26-year-old Brazil native, had a two-fight winning streak snapped.
Dalby won the fight by winning the battle over distance control, ending Rodriguez's 10-fight winning streak.
It took Rodriguez most of the way through Round 1 to find his range. Dalby maintained his distance early on, and the 36-year-old out of Copenhagen, Denmark, landed kicks while Rodriguez was having trouble closing in on him with punches. When Rodriguez finally did find Dalby, he landed some crisp punches and had Dalby in retreat as the horn sounded to end the first five minutes.
From that point on, however, Rodriguez never showed the urgency to get in Dalby's face. This was by no means a Dalby runaway -- both men landed plenty, and Rodrigiuez had a big edge in significant strikes in each of the first two rounds. But Dalby never allowed his opponent to gain any momentum.
Two judges scored the bout 29-28 and the other had it 30-27, all for Dalby, who ran his unbeaten streak to seven in a row.
Rodriguez, who is 33 and fights out of Alhambra, California, lost for the first time in the UFC.
Jouban put the squeeze on a guillotine choke. He swept into mount and it looked like Gooden was either on the verge of tapping out or going unconscious. Then, the bell sounded, signifying the end of the fight
No, Jouban didn't get the finish he tried incredibly hard for. But he did earn a unanimous-decision win (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) over Gooden in a welterweight bout. It was the first time Jouban, a popular veteran, has competed since April 2019.
The bout itself was a very entertaining one. Jouban attacked nicely with a beautiful straight left and nice kicks to the body from the southpaw stance. Gooden, though, was able to absorb all of those shots and answer with powerful boxing. Jouban's right eye was damaged because of a clash of heads in the first round and it looked bad by the third round. But Jouban still did more than enough to win.
The second round is what separated Jouban. Rather than loading up for haymakers like Gooden did, Jouban was content to land a jab, that straight left and some hard kicks to the body and legs. Several times, Jouban let loose with combinations that landed. Gooden came back in the third to land some hard right hands. But Jouban snared Gooden's neck in a scramble and almost finished in the closing seconds with a guillotine.
Jouban, 38, has won two of three but has dropped three of five altogether. The Louisiana native, who lives and works as a model in California, was once considered a welterweight contender. Gooden, a 26-year-old Georgia resident, came in on a three-fight winning streak. This was Gooden's UFC debut.
Daukaus got back on track after suffering his first career defeat in his UFC debut in June, getting the better of a fight that mostly was contested with the fighters chest-to-chest against the cage.
Daukaus, a 27-year-old out of Philadelphia, got the better of the exchanges on those sporadic occasions when the fighters were at distance, utilizing the long reach that comes with his 6-foot-3 frame. But mostly, this was a clinch fest, and Stoltzfus' best weapon in those tight exchanges was dropping for a leg lock, which he did a couple of times to escape trouble.
But the 29-year-old Stoltzfus, who also is a Pennsylvania native, could not produce enough offense to keep Daukaus away from him. As a result, he saw a 10-fight winning streak end in his UFC debut.
Two judges scored the bout 30-27 and the other had it 30-26.
Palatnikov got smashed with combinations in the first round and was nearly finished. He took two hard strikes below the belt. Yet, somehow, the debuting UFC fighter ended up not only with his hand raised but with a finish.
Palatnikov stopped Cosce via TKO at 2:27 of the third round in a welterweight bout to open UFC 255. The bout was a war of attrition. Cosce beat Palatnikov up in the first round, which was one of the most exciting rounds of the year in MMA. Both men were bloody by the end.
What a start to #UFC255!!!— Steve-O (@steveo) November 22, 2020
Cosce caught Palatnikov with punches while Palatnikov was in the middle of a front roll in the first round. Palatnikov was trying to escape, but it didn't work. Cosce poured it on from there, landing huge combinations. Palatnikov managed to survive the onslaught -- and actually come back with big offense in the first. He landed hard elbows and a wild spinning back fist before the close of the initial five minutes.
"I knew, he's a muscular guy," Palatanikov said in his postfight interview. "If he [gives you] a few big shots and can't drop you, he'll get tired. ... If I get hit, I get woken up."
Palatnikov was the aggressor the rest of the way. He did absorb two low blows -- one in the second and one in the third -- but persevered through them. After the latter groin shot, Palatnikov came back from a pause in the action to rock Cosce with a huge right hand. He then slammed Cosce with punches on the ground until referee Chris Tognoni stepped in to call it.
Both fighters earned $50,000 fight-of-the-night bonuses.
Palatnikov, 31, is the first-ever Hong Kong-born fighter in UFC history. The Syndicate MMA product cashed as a +400 underdog. Cosce, a 25-year-old California native, earned his way into the UFC via a first-round TKO win over Victor Reyna on Dana White's Contender Series in August.