Cain Velasquez lasted 26 seconds in his first UFC fight since July 2016, suffering a knockout at the hands of Francis Ngannou.
The Phoenix crowd at Talking Stick Resort Arena was firmly behind Velasquez in his return, but those fans went home disappointed.
Ngannou immediately went on the offensive after the opening bell. He landed a short uppercut on Velasquez before Velasquez's left knee gave out and he fell to the mat. Ngannou landed a pair of punches before the referee stepped in to end the fight.
The result will only add to Ngannou's reputation as a knockout artist.
While Velasquez's potential knee injury certainly brought the end far earlier than anybody expected, Ngannou's win was anything but a fluke. Ngannou was looking good and peppered Velasquez with some heavy shots.
It was a great showing from the 32-year-old as he tries to position himself for another shot at the UFC heavyweight title.
The main event capped off what was a great night of fighting.
- Francis Ngannou def. Cain Velasquez via KO (R1, 0:26)
- Paul Felder def. James Vick via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
- Cynthia Calvillo def. Cortney Casey via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
- Kron Gracie def. Alex Caceres via submission (RNC) (R1, 2:06)
- Vicente Luque def. Bryan Barberena via TKO (R3, 4:54)
- Andre Fili def. Myles Jury via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Emily Whitmire def. Alexandra Albu via submission (RNC) (R1, 1:01)
- Luke Sanders def. Renan Barao via TKO (R2, 1:01)
- Nik Lentz def. Scott Holtzman via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Andrea Lee def. Ashlee Evans-Smith via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Manny Bermudez def. Benito Lopez via submission (D'Arce choke) (R1, 3:09)
- Aljamain Sterling def. Jimmie Rivera via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Paul Felder defeats James Vick
Paul Felder notched an emotional win over James Vick in what was just his second fight since December 2017.
"It's been a long layoff," Felder said in his post-fight interview, per MMA Fighting. "I broke my arm, I lost my father last year. This one was for my daughter and my mom, she doesn't get enough credit. I won this one for you, mom!"
According to UFC.com, Felder connected with one more total strike (70) than Vick (69) and six fewer significant strikes (55 to Vick's 61).
More so than the volume, though, Felder seemingly had the advantage in terms of the impact his punches made. A spinning backfist in the first round landed flush on Vick that all but ensured the opening round would go to Felder.
Felder was also effective in targeting Vick's legs, which limited how much Vick could move around the Octagon as the fight went on.
Cynthia Calvillo defeats Cortney Casey
Cortney Casey succeeded in preventing Cynthia Calvillo from taking the fight to the mat. She avoided all six of Calvillo's takedown attempts. Unfortunately for Casey, her excellent defense wasn't enough to secure the victory.
All three judges scored the fight for Calvillo, who owned a slim 82-73 edge in significant strikes. Calvillo deserves credit for not panicking when her game plan was coming undone. She remained composed and didn't back away when Casey got in close and tried to be aggressive.
Calvillo is likely to climb up the women's strawweight division a little bit, and she has a plan that would help her earn a shot at the champion, Rose Namajunas. She issued a challenge to Tatiana Suarez, who sits third in the division, per ESPN's Ariel Helwani.
Kron Gracie defeats Alex Caceres
Kron Gracie needed just over two minutes to submit Alex Caceres in his UFC debut.
Gracie felt out Caceres early on before taking him to the mat. From there, he got Caceres into position for a rear-naked choke. Even after Gracie got a forearm under his throat, Caceres attempted to fight out. After failing to do so, he had to tap out.
Perhaps because his night was over so quickly, Gracie told ESPN.com's Brett Okamoto he doesn't want to wait long for his next appearance in the Octagon. According to Okamoto, an April fight "definitely seems like a possibility."
Vicente Luque defeats Bryan Barberena
Although 2019 is less than two months old, Vicente Luque and Bryan Barberena provided an entry in the Fight of the Year discussion. They delivered a good old-fashioned slugfest, combining to land 359 total strikes. UFC News noted their 332 significant strikes were only two short of tying the three-round record.
If the fight had gone the distance, Barberena would've had a strong case to come out on top. However, he ran out of gas in the third round.
Luque connected with a pair of knees that dropped Barberena to all fours. Barberena was unable to get his hands up to protect from Luque's flurry of left hands, leaving the referee with little choice but to call for the bell.
Both fighters received huge praise on Twitter for their effort:
Luque has now reeled off four straight wins, with eight victories in his last nine fights.
Andre Fili defeats Myles Jury
Andre Fili bounced back from his defeat to Michael Johnson with a unanimous-decision victory over Myles Jury to kick off the main card Sunday night. All three judges scored it 29-28 for Fili.
Fili landed 98 significant strikes to Jury's 76. He was particularly good in the first and third rounds, using his jab to keep Jury at a safe distance and register enough blows to impress the judges. Jury stunned Fili briefly in the second round with a spinning backfist, but Fili recovered before Jury could really capitalize.
Jury could have little argument with the outcome, as Fili was the stronger fighter on the night.
Having earned his 19th win, Fili is setting his sights on bigger and better things.
"I am going to call my shot," he said, per MMA Fighting. "I'm gonna wait, because I just got hit in the head. But I will call somebody out in the future. I'm gonna have that belt by the end of the year."