Henry Cejudo denied TJ Dillashaw a second title with a shocking first-round TKO win to defend his UFC flyweight title to close out the UFC's first show on ESPN+ from Brooklyn, New York. The whole thing was over fast enough to land The Messenger on the leaderboard for fastest knockouts.
The former Olympic gold medalist came out on fire and landed a right hand behind Dillashaw's ear that turned out the lights early. Cejudo was quick to follow up while Dillashaw hung on for dear life, and the ref quickly called an end to the bout.
The bantamweight titleholder was not happy with the decision after the fight:
Regardless of Dillashaw's disappointment, in the end, it doesn't take away the shocking performance from the reigning flyweight champion. Cejudo was nearly a 2-1 underdog, per OddsShark, heading into this bout and proved his worth among the best in the organization.
After the bout, Cejudo offered a rematch, potentially for the bantamweight belt.
Of course, looking for another belt is all the rage in the sport now, but Cejudo also made his case for the flyweight division. With Demetrious Johnson no longer under the UFC banner, the state of the division was in question.
Now Cejudo has made a strong case that the division should have a place in the organization.
It was a fittingly shocking end to what turned out to be a memorable night of fights. The UFC's debut on ESPN didn't disappoint with plenty of surprising moments and violent finishes. Here's a look at the complete results and a look at the main event bouts.
- Henry Cejudo def. TJ Dillashaw via first-round TKO (0:32)
- Allen Crowder def. Greg Hardy via disqualification (illegal knee) (R2, 2:28)
- Gregor Gillespie def. Yancy Medeiros via second-round TKO (4:59)
- Joseph Benavidez def. Dustin Ortiz via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
- Paige VanZant def. Rachael Ostovich via submission (armbar) (R2, 1:50)
- Glover Teixeira def. Karl Roberson via submission (arm-triangle) (R1, 3:21)
Undercard (ESPN Now)
- Donald Cerrone def. Alexander Hernandez via second-round TKO (3:43)
- Joanne Calderwood def. Ariane Lipski via unanimous decision (30-26 x2, 30-27)
- Alonzo Menifield def. Vinicius Moreira via first-round TKO (3:56)
- Cory Sandhagen def. Mario Bautista via submission (armbar) (R1, 3:31)
- Dennis Bermudez def. Te Edwards via unanimous decision (30-26 x3)
- Geoff Neal def. Belal Muhammad via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27 x2)
- Chance Rencountre def. Kyle Stewart via submission (RNC) (R1, 2:25)
Greg Hardy vs. Allen Crowder
Greg Hardy's UFC debut could best be described as disastrous.
What the organization hoped for was a former NFL star-turned-heavyweight machine. Instead, what it got was a controversial finish to a lackluster performance from its prized prospect.
Hardy started off as expected—slinging haymakers in hopes of another highlight knockout. Instead, Allen Crowder responded like the experienced fighter that he is, clinched and made Hardy work for his first UFC round.
In the second frame, things got even worse for Hardy. The former Carolina Panther and Dallas Cowboy launched an illegal knee to a clearly down Crowder, leaving his opponent unable to continue and handing him a disqualification.
Bringing Hardy into the promotion was a gamble to begin with because of his past. He was convicted on two counts of domestic violence in 2014 before the charges were later dismissed and expunged from his record after Nicole Holder stopped cooperating with the prosecution. This incident only makes that decision look even worse.
Now that Hardy has a middling performance on the big stage, it will be interesting to see if he is brought back to fight under the UFC banner again.
Gregor Gillespie vs. Yancy Medeiros
It might be time to start taking Gregor Gillespie seriously as a wild-card contender in the lightweight division. The New Yorker turned his main card matchup with Yancy Medeiros into a one-sided affair with ease en route to a second-round TKO win.
Gillespie pressure-cooked Medeiros from the opening bell, giving his opponent little room to breathe, much less move. In the second round, he was basically a violent backpack just controlling Medeiros from behind and swarming him with volume.
The end result was a TKO that took the fight to the final moments of the second round and another dominant performance for the undefeated Gillespie.
This dominant run for Gillespie could only be made more impressive with a higher level of competition. Medeiros has been his most proven opponent to date, but this win should see him going against a true contender his next time out.
Joseph Benavidez vs. Dustin Ortiz
In a battle of top-10 flyweights, it was Joseph Benavidez's wrestling that once again prevailed. This time, he used it to score a unanimous-decision victory over Dustin Ortiz for the second time in his career.
The first time the pairing met in 2014, Benavidez proved to be way too much for the younger Ortiz.
This time, the gap may have closed, but it was still the same result. The two went back-and-forth in a bout that was predominantly a grappling match. Ortiz came the closest to finishing the bout despite dropping the decision.
Deep into the third round, Ortiz sunk in a rear-naked choke but couldn't secure it before the final bell.
The win leaves Benavidez in a precarious spot once again. His only losses in his career have come against Dominick Cruz, Demetrious Johnson and a split-decision defeat to Sergio Pettis.
Essentially, he's proven that he's good enough to beat anyone without a belt while coming up short every time he's had the opportunity to challenge for one himself.
Paige VanZant vs. Rachael Ostovich
Paige VanZant is back.
Well, as back as a fighter can be by winning a fight against someone with a .500 record, but the fact remains that the 24-year-old is back in the win column. It wasn't an easy victory, but PVZ found a way to force a tap in the second round in her first fight after more than a year away from the Octagon.
Rachael Ostovich proved to be a game opponent for the former Dancing with the Stars opponent. She likely won the first round with solid striking and a top game that was the story for most of the first five minutes.
But VanZant's experience against some of the best in her division paid off in the second round. After a strong start from her opponent once again, she rallied from behind to take her opponent's back and force a tap via a unique armbar from behind.
The win moves VanZant to 2-3 in her last five fights. While VanZant has her detractors because of the early push she received in her career, this performance was a reminder that she does still have the ability to grow and become a much better fighter.
Glover Teixeira vs. Karl Roberson
Karl Roberson hoped to make a big statement over a recognizable name in the light heavyweight division in Glover Teixeira. He quickly found out that there's a reason Teixeira is well-known in the class.
Roberson came out looking to put the Brazilian away and make his name. He did so successfully for the first few minutes of the bout, looking to end the fight with vicious elbows from top position. Unfortunately for him, Teixeira is not only skilled but also incredibly durable.
He took the beating, rallied and scored a takedown of his own. From there, he locked in an arm-triangle choke that gave him the victory and kicked off the main card with an exciting back-and-forth one-round affair.
The 39-year-old is now 3-3 in his last six fights, but it was great proof that an old dog can certainly perform tricks they've known for a long time.