The UFC held their first card in Wichita, Kansas on Saturday night with the show headlined by former heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos and recent title challenger Derrick Lewis.
The 35-year old Dos Santos improved his win streak to three with a second-round stoppage of Lewis, who was coming into his fight looking to rebound from a loss to current champion Daniel Cormier.
The win places Dos Santos among the division’s top fighters with Lewis’ name being added to his 2018 victories over Blagoy Ivanov and Tai Tuivasa.
The heavyweight division is one of several in the UFC that are in the state of pause. The obvious fight that the UFC and Cormier are aiming to put together is the one with Brock Lesnar. Cormier and Lesnar had a face-off at the conclusion of UFC 226 when Cormier won the title from Stipe Miocic. The hope was Lesnar would fulfill his WWE commitments and fight Cormier, but Lesnar extended his deal with the company.
Lesnar did show a legitimate willingness to fight by re-entering the USADA testing pool and putting himself at an inconvenience that showed more than a simple bluff for a better WWE deal. According to the USADA database, Lesnar has been tested once in 2019 but was tested seven times in 2018.
The waiting game is creating a backlog of title challengers at the weight class and Dos Santos becomes the latest fighter told to take a number and wait. He joins Stipe Miocic and Francis Ngannou with the probable outcome that a fight will be made among those contenders in waiting. Dos Santos and Ngannou were scheduled for a fight in 2017 but Dos Santos was pulled due to a USADA violation, which he was later cleared of intentionally using a performance-enhancing substance.
Dos Santos and Lewis were awarded the Fight of the Night bonus while Niko Price and Beneil Dariush also netted $50,000 each with the Performance of the Night bonuses.
The card also featured a welterweight fight involving two men on solid winning streaks. Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos earned his seventh straight win with a rear-naked choke submission over Curtis Millender in the opening round. The loss was Millender’s first since October 2015 after winning nine fights in a row, including victories over Max Griffin and Siyar Bahadurzada in the UFC.
Niko Price bounced back from a 43 second knockout at the hands of Abdul Razak Alhassan last September with a knockout victory of his own. Price stopped Tim Means with ten seconds remaining the first round of their welterweight fight with Price improving to 13-2 with 1 no contest. Means has lost three of his last four fights since November 2017.
Ben Rothwell returned to the cage with his first fight since April 2016 following a two-year suspension handed down by USADA. His opponent was Blagoy Ivanov, who was making his sophomore appearance for the UFC after losing to Junior dos Santos last July by unanimous decision. Ivanov received a unanimous decision nod after three rounds with all three judges scoring the fight 29-28 for the Bulgarian native.
Here are the complete list of results from Saturday’s card at the Intrust Bank Arena:
*Alex White def. Dan Moret by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
*Alex Morono def. Zak Ottow by verbal submission due to strikes at 3:34 of Round 1
*Matt Schnell def. Louis Smolka by triangle choke at 3:18 of Round 1
*Maurice Greene def. Jeff Hughes by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
*Grant Dawson def. Julian Erosa by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 29-27)
*Yana Kunitskaya def. Marion Reneau by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
*Anthony Rocco Martin def. Sergio Moraes by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
*Omari Akhmedov def. Tim Boetsch by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
*Beneil Dariush def. Drew Dober by triangle armbar at 4:41 of Round 2
*Blagoy Ivanov def. Ben Rothwell by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
*Niko Price def. Tim Means by KO at 4:50 of Round 1
*Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos def. Curtis Millender by rear-naked choke at 2:35 of Round 1
*Junior dos Santos def. Derrick Lewis by TKO at 1:58 of Round 2