Welcome to our coverage of the UFC’s 25th Anniversary card from the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado.
Brendan Fitzgerald is calling the card with Paul Felder.
Mark De La Rosa def. Joby Sanchez by split decision (30-27, 28-29, 29-28) – Bantamweight
Eric Shelton def. Joseph Morales by split decision (30-27, 27-30, 29-28) – Flyweight
I scored the first and third rounds for Shelton. He had several takedowns but frequently put himself at risk when giving up his neck to Morales when he would shoot in. Morales edged out the second round with his most significant submission attempt and landed elbows at the end of the round. I have no idea how a judge scored all three rounds for Morales.
Devonte Smith def. Julian Erosa by KO at 0:46 of Round 1 – Lightweight
Smith landed a left jab-straight right combo to drop Erosa. He followed with seven unanswered shots on top before referee Tim Mills stopped the fight.
Smith improved to 9-1 after winning on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series this past August to get into the UFC. He’s won five straight and his last loss was to John Gunther, who is also fighting tonight.
Smith said he wants to fight Ross Pearson next.
Davi Ramos def. John Gunther by rear-naked choke at 1:57 of Round 1 – Lightweight
Ramos instantly took Gunther down and secured the back. He applied his hook and applied a deep choke forcing Gunther to tap.
It was the third consecutive rear-naked choke victory for Ramos, who was the largest favorite on the card at -1000 and improves to 9-2.
Ramos predicted he is a future lightweight champion and no one can beat him in the division.
Bobby Moffett def. Chas Skelly by TKO at 2:43 of Round 2 – Featherweight
Skelly won the first round taking the back of Moffett for most of the round. Moffett got him off near the end and did land a knee. Moffett slammed him to the canvas early in the second round and Skelly kicked off the fence to get on top, but Moffett immediately applied a D’arce choke and circled. Referee Tim Mills ended the fight, but Skelly popped up right away and argued the stoppage.
Replay is in effect in Colorado and they reviewed the finish, but the original decision stood. It was interesting to see the post-match play out live.
Moffett said it was up to the referee’s discretion. Skelly congratulated Moffett, he acknowledged the choke was tight but he created space and was not in danger when the fight was stopped, he added that he never went out.
Ashley Yoder def. Amanda Cooper by split decision (29-28, 27-30, 29-28) – Strawweight
It came down to the second round, which was close. I had Cooper winning the first two rounds on the strength of her takedowns and a marginal top game that outpaced Yoder. The third round was Yoder’s round and it’s insane that there was a 30-27 card for Cooper. Yoder reversed off a takedown and landed on top, she later went for a kneebar and ended the fight with a neck crank applied.
Yoder noted the elevation of Colorado was a big factor.
Mike Trizano def. Luis Pena by unanimous decision (30-27, 28-29, 29-28) – Lightweight
Trizano won TUF Season 27 and Pena was part of the same season. Pena is huge for 155 pounds at 6-foot-3.
Trizano fought a good fight and won with his striking game. It began with inside leg kicks in the first round and he continued to rack up strikes in the ensuing rounds. In the second, the key was Trizano’s elbows to the side of the head and some big hammer fists at the end that offset Pena’s takedown and back control. The third round saw Trizano land some clean shots in the final minute and I scored it 30-27 for Trizano.
Trizano indicated he will likely stay at this weight after previously considering a move to featherweight.
Maycee Barber def. Hannah Cifers by TKO at 2:01 of Round 2 – Strawweight
Barber is only 20 years old and came off Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. The story from the contender’s show was she has a timer set on her phone, which is her deadline to become the youngest UFC champion in history. Barber missed weight on her first attempt Friday, but after did cut to make the 116-pound limit.
Barber was landing a lot at the beginning of the first round, but Cifers ate a lot and clinched to negate Barber’s strikes. In the second, Cifers was cut open by a right elbow and sent down to the mat where Barber got on top and overwhelmed her with ground and pound until referee Kevin MacDonald stopped the fight.
Barber has enormous potential at this weight class especially given how young she is and the improvements she will inevitably make.
She said she wants to fight Mackenzie Dern and doesn’t belong on small cards.
Beneil Dariush def. Thiago Moises by unanimous decision (30-25, 30-25, 30-26) – Lightweight
This was a complete domination by Dariush for three rounds with the only drama being how much he won each round by. I scored it 30-25 for Dariush for Round 2 and 3 being 10-8 rounds.
Moises was aggressive going for submissions in the first round but Dariush had no problems and was patient all fight long and had dominant positions. At times, he was close to sinking in a rear-naked choke, but Moises avoided being submitted. This was not a great fight at all.
It was Dariush’s first win since November 2016 after two losses and a draw in his last three, including a 42 second knockout to Alexander Hernandez in his last fight.
Germaine de Randamie def. Raquel Pennington by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
Pennington came in two pounds over at 138 pounds. This was de Randamie’s first fight since her close decision over Holly Holm in February 2017.
de Randamie looked very good in this fight and her striking was more significant. In the opening round, de Randamie was landing knees from the Thai clinch and her work in the clinch was a big contributing factor to de Randamie’s offensive stats.
Pennington struggled to take her down throughout the fight. In the second round, she attempted a low kick and immediately was blasted with a jab. The pace continued for de Randamie into the third round and made into a kickboxing fight that favored her and won all three rounds.
Donald Cerrone def. Mike Perry by armbar at 4:46 of Round 1 – Welterweight
Cerrone moved into first place for all-time wins inside the UFC, surpassing Georges St-Pierre and Michael Bisping and most finishes in UFC history surpassing Anderson Silva and Vitor Belfort.
Cerrone was using his jab early on. Perry scored a takedown and was in side control when Cerrone reversed. He attempted to take Perry’s back but slipped off and found himself in Perry’s guard. He went for an armbar as Perry slammed him down with the armbar applied and Perry tapped.
After the fight, Cerrone brought his baby into the octagon and it was quite the scene along with his wife and grandmother. He said he wants to move back down to lightweight and is coming for Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Yair Rodriguez def. Chan Sung Jung by KO at 4:59 of Round 5 – Featherweight
This might be the best fight of 2018 and it was the best finish of the year. This was one of the greatest finishes I’ve ever seen in an MMA fight.
The first two rounds were close with Rodriguez throwing a lot of kicks and ended up damaging his foot in the opening round. Jung got several strikes through during a flurry in the first and won the round.
The second round was very close as Rodriguez landed a spinning elbow but also absorbed several big right hands from Jung. The pace was incredible.
I had Jung winning the third and fourth rounds by a wider margin. Rodriguez ate a clean left. Rodriguez attempted a rolling koppu kick and took several shots getting up. In the fourth, Jung landed a right uppercut and Rodriguez hit a spinning back fist in response. Jung rocked him with a rock and touched him up with his left jab.
I thought you could have all four rounds for Jung or at least 3-1 for Jung heading into Round 5.
The fifth was going well for Rodriguez, who hit another spinning elbow and a high kick. They were trading in the final seconds and bumped fists as Jung ran into an upward elbow from Rodriguez and went out as the buzzer sounded.
Referee Kevin MacDonald ruled it a knockout and Jung lost with 1 second remaining in one of the greatest finishes in MMA history.
You need to watch this fight. Unbelievable.