The UFC held their first-ever card in Utica, New York on Friday night from the Adirondack Bank Center in front of an announced attendance of 5,063 and a gate of $322,825.
The card was headlined by two of the best bantamweights in the world as Marlon Moraes met Jimmie Rivera. The fight was expected to catapult the winner into the top of the division and possibly in line for a title fight after the rematch between TJ Dillashaw and Cody Garbrandt this summer.
Moraes connecting a sensational head kick that dropped Rivera and Moraes immediately swarmed Rivera with follow up strikes as referee Dan Miragliotta halted the fight after 33 seconds.
The victory makes it three-consecutive for Moraes, who is openly calling for a championship shot in his next fight. He won in spectacular fashion with a highlight level knockout that rivals his previous win over Aljamain Sterling. He also handed Rivera his first loss since November 2008, which added up to a stretch of twenty consecutive wins.
The most bizarre story of the night came courtesy of the New York State Athletic Commission, who seem to be allergic to flying under the radar when the UFC stages a show within the state. On Friday afternoon, a statement was released that strawweight Jessica Aguilar was being removed from the card due to a medical issue and opponent Jodie Esquibel would be unable to fight as well. Aguilar posted a video later in the day, stating that the NYSAC observed that there was something on her lip and had to be cleared by a dermatologist. Aguilar was cleared by the dermatologist but the NYSAC observed that her lips were still chapped and would not allow her to fight. The two strawweights are hopeful of having a fight rebooked immediately.
Here are the results of the card from Friday night in Utica:
*Jose Torres def. Jarred Brooks by KO at 2:55 of Round 2 – This was one of the strangest finishes of the year. Brooks lifted Torres ala Matt Hughes vs. Frank Trigg, he slammed Torres down but in the process he knocked himself out, Torres snuck out and finishes the fight with strikes
*Nathaniel Wood def. Johnny Eduardo by D’Arce choke at 2:18 of Round 2
*Des Green def. Gleison Tibau by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
*Belal Muhammad def. Chance Rencountre by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
*David Teymur def. Nik Lentz by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
*Sijara Eubanks def. Lauren Murphy by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28) – Eubanks looked impressive. It was a moral victory that she made the flyweight limit after being unable to do so for the TUF Finale and was replaced by Roxanne Modafferi in the tournament final for the flyweight title. Eubanks wants the next title shot, but there is no way she should get that title fight ahead of Valentina Shevchenko.
*Sam Alvey def. Gian Villante by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) – Alvey was losing the first round and then attacked Villante with a flurry of strikes, which may have won the fight for him as it was very close. Alvey challenged Corey Anderson for his next fight.
*Julio Arce def. Daniel Teymur by rear-naked choke at 2:55 of Round 3
*Ben Saunders def. Jake Ellenberger by TKO at 1:56 of Round 1 – Saunders hit a pinpoint accurate knee to the liver from the clinch and Ellenberger was done
*Walt Harris def. Daniel Spitz by TKO at 4:59 of Round 2
*Gregor Gillespie def. Vinc Pichel by arm-triangle choke at 4:06 of Round 2 – Gillespie deserves a big opponent in his next fight. This was a mauling with a 10-8 first round and was well on his way to another 10-8 when he submitted Pichel, who was dominated from the jump. Gillespie is undefeated with high level wrestling and a furious top game
*Marlon Moraes def. Jimmie Rivera by KO at 0:33 of Round 1
There was no Fight of the Night bonus awarded, but they did give out four Performances bonuses to Marlon Moraes, Gregor Gillespie, Ben Saunders, and Nathaniel Wood for $50,000 each.
Next week’s card is the big UFC 225 pay-per-view from the United Center in Chicago. The card features two title fights with the middleweight title rematch between Robert Whittaker and Yoel Romero and the interim welterweight title fight between Rafael dos Anjos and Colby Covington.