So much for post-pay-per-view hangovers.
The UFC rolled out its Fight Island red carpet just seven days after a dual-title blockbuster, but the star power stayed consistent across an 11-bout Fight Night show in the wee hours of the morning local time.
ESPN+ again did the bleary-eyed broadcasting lifting for a card that began at 3:30 a.m. in Abu Dhabi and ended well after 1 a.m. ET in the United States.
It was the first octagonal main event featuring a Mexican-born woman, Irene Aldana, and the first headliner between women of any background to be staged in the United Arab Emirates.
Former UFC bantamweight champion Holly Holm shared top billing with Aldana, and the card also featured a former featherweight champion in Germaine de Randamie and a former interim welterweight champion in Carlos Condit, not to mention four fighters taking their first steps inside the Octagon.
Brendan Fitzgerald, Paul Felder and Dan Hardy shared the broadcast table, while Karyn Bryant was on locker-room and pre-fight feature duty.
The Bleacher Report MMA team was on hand from start to finish to fulfill its duty of chronicling the show's biggest winners and losers. Read through to see our choices, and let us know in the comments section where we got it right and how your impressions stacked up.
Winner: Fooling the Calendar
Holly Holm's birthday is coming up on October 17.
Whether or not she'll actually be turning 39, though, is up for debate.
Already the author of the most significant result in UFC women's history—a 2015 stoppage of supernova Ronda Rousey—Holm turned back the clock again in Saturday's main event, looking strong and energetic throughout a convincing defeat of Irene Aldana in a matchup of two ranked bantamweights.
She earned a unanimous decision with scores of 50-44, 50-45 and 50-45.
"You cannot do better than what Holly Holm did over 25 minutes," Fitzgerald said. "She's making her case for another shot."
It was the second win in as many 2020 fights for Holm, who strung together consecutive victories for the first time since the Rousey upset pushed her then-win streak to 10.
She went just 3-5 in eight subsequent fights before facing Aldana, however, including a loss to Miesha Tate in her first title defense in 2016 and unsuccessfully challenging Amanda Nunes in 2019.
Nevertheless, she was ranked second at 135 pounds entering the fight, while Aldana, who had won five of eight in the UFC, was four slots down at No. 6. Earlier on the card, No. 1 contender De Randamie defeated No. 4 Julianna Pena by third-round submission.
De Randamie beat Holm by unanimous decision in the main event at UFC 208.
Holm strafed Aldana with 147 significant strikes, nearly doubling her previous best of 77. She also took down Aldana five times after the Mexican had only allowed two takedowns in her previous eight fights.
"She's chasing highlight reels," Felder said. "If you expected a changing of the guard, it hasn't happened. This has been an absolute clinic."
Holm said Aldana's style reminded her of herself, which prompted a unique strategy.
"I had to think about what I'd do if I was fighting myself and tonight," she said. "We put a game plan together, and we were able to be victorious. I didn't come to be a boxer in MMA. I came to be a mixed martial artist. I'm going to keep working hard."
Loser: Continuing Weigh-In Venom
Sometimes, the weigh-in is more compelling than the fight.
That may not have been the case when it came to co-main event heavyweights Carlos Felipe and Yorgan De Castro, but it wasn't too far off.
The big-boy heavyweights were full of venom at their Friday face-off, and Felipe went ahead and denied De Castro a handshake, but their Saturday violence was frequently interspersed with long stretches of tedious mauling before Felipe escaped the 15-minute scrap with a unanimous decision.
The Brazilian got 30-27 nods on two official scorecards and 29-28 on the other.
"I think I deserve performance of the night," Felipe said.
Hardy had to work to keep a straight face, and Felder immediately snorted "well, he does have confidence" from his cage-side perch after a fight in which the two men combined for 126 significant strikes—21 fewer than Holm in the main event.
To be fair, Felipe was the busier of the two heavyweights, using his superior hand speed and sneaky power to keep De Castro off balance. He was effective with jabs and aggression through De Castro's kicks in the opening round, landed a right hand in the second round that wobbled his man and was generally more effective whenever the two men engaged in prolonged flurries.
Referee Kevin Sataki warned the fighters several times about staying busy and broke up several clinches along the fence when the foes seemed content to simply lay on each other.
Felipe improved to 9-1 and picked up his first UFC win in his second appearance, while De Castro fell to 6-2 overall and 1-2 in the UFC.
"I love doing this," Felipe said. "I have some violence inside me."
Winner: Violence in Many Forms
Kyler Phillips is nicknamed The Matrix. Many other labels could also apply.
The 25-year-old Arizonan resembled a Tasmanian devil, a tornado and an all-around blur of violence while applying a comprehensive beatdown to UFC newcomer Cameron Else at bantamweight.
Phillips got a TKO—and a sixth finish in eight wins—at 44 seconds of the second round, staying unblemished in two appearances in the Octagon and impressing Fitzgerald.
"I'm telling you, look out for this kid," he said. "He has made good every time out in recent years."
The win boosted Phillips to 8-1 and came after a first round that had been competitive early on but veered in the winner's direction when he got a takedown and dished out some heavy punishment in the final minute—coming close to a stoppage before the buzzer saved Else at the close of the round.
The Englishman wobbled back to his corner and was instantly vulnerable to begin the second, getting taken down again right away and giving up his back while Phillips pounded away. Two heavy elbows to the side of the head were followed by a left-hand punch and two more right-hand shots before referee Marc Goddard intervened.
"I was ready for anything," Phillips said. "I knew he was going to come out hard. I had to keep mixing it up on him. Elbows, knees and kicks."
The fight was Phillips' first since February, but he's looking forward to a quick turnaround.
"I wanna live here at Fight Island," he said. "I get free food. I hang out. It's like being on a cruise ship out here. I'll fight anybody, any style. Let's go."
Loser: Taking a Man's 0
He's not a perfect fighter. But Dusko Todorovic has a perfect record.
And he's not interested in giving it up anytime soon.
The Serbian middleweight maintained his unblemished mark and made his UFC debut in violent style, grinding through American veteran Dequan Townsend to earn a second-round TKO.
"We knew Dequan was a tough fighter, and he can take punishment," Todorovic said. "So when I went back to my corner, they told me to wrestle, to get him to the ground and use my jiu-jitsu."
The 26-year-old charge followed instructions to the letter, getting in close enough to score a double-leg takedown 90 seconds into the second round and subsequently working from side and full mount to batter his opponent with a barrage of heavy ground-and-pound shots.
Townsend tried desperately to fend off Todorovic's attack but couldn't escape the vulnerable position and saw the fight stopped by referee Jason Herzog at 3:15.
"It's very unreal to me now," said Todorovic, who'd finished eight of his nine victories prior to meeting Townsend. "In a couple days when my emotions settle, I'll be fully aware of what happened.
"For me, the ultimate goal is to keep my 0. I want to be undefeated for the rest of my career. I'll do anything I can to keep it that way."
He finished with an 85-13 edge in significant strikes, including a 32-2 edge in the decisive round.
"[Staying unbeaten is] easier said than done," Felder said. "But if he keeps going like this and fighting at this rate, it's possible. Why not? Perfect stoppage, still undefeated, great way to make a UFC debut."
Winner: Ending a Half-Decade Skid
A single win doth not a championship run make.
But it was better than the results Carlos Condit had been getting.
The ex-interim champion returned to the welterweight win column for the first time in five years, ending a five-fight skid with a unanimous decision over Court McGee in the featured prelim bout.
"It's been a long time," he said. "I've had some ups and downs. The next step forward, whatever it is, I've got to keep working and keep focusing on what I've got to do."
Now 36, Condit had gone 1,953 days and nights since his last victory, which came by TKO in May 2015 against Thiago Alves. He had dropped a pair of decisions and been submitted three times in five appearances since, the most recent of which came at UFC 232 against Michael Chiesa.
He and McGee spent the majority of the first round at distance, with Condit attempting to land punches while McGee strafed his legs with kicks. The most decisive moment happened a split second before the buzzer, when Condit dipped to his right and came across with a hook that dropped McGee to the seat of his pants and appeared to have broken his nose.
The shot seemed to boost Condit's confidence just a bit, and he was more fluid with his striking across the final two rounds—though neither fighter landed another fight-defining shot or put his opponent in significant danger. Condit held a slim 88-84 advantage in strikes.
All three judges gave Condit a 30-27 on the scorecards, matching Bleacher Report's totals.
"Court's super tough," he said. "I knew that he'd be there from bell to bell."
UFC Fight Night 179 Full Card Results
Holly Holm def. Irene Aldana by unanimous decision (50-44, 50-45, 50-45).
Carlos Felipe def. Yorgan De Castro by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 39-28).
Germaine de Randamie def. Julianna Pena by submission, 3:25, Round 3.
Kyler Phillips def. Cameron Else by TKO, 0:44, Round 2.
Dusko Todorovic def. Dequan Townsend by TKO, 3:15, Round 2.
Carlos Condit def. Court McGee by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
Charles Jourdain drew with Josh Culibao (28-28, 28-29, 30-27).
Nassourdine Imavov def. Jordan Williams by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 29-27).
Loma Lookboonmee def. Jinh Yu Frey by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27).
Casey Kenney def. Heili Alateng by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26, 30-25).
Luigi Vendramini def. Jessin Ayari by TKO, 1:20, Round 1.
Performances of the Night
Germaine de Randamie, Kyler Phillips, Dusko Todorovic, Luigi Vendramini