Rob Font took advantage of his first main event fight with a masterful unanimous decision win over Cody Garbrandt in the main event of UFC Vegas 27 from the Apex Facility.
The two bantamweights put on a back-and-forth first round. Font was able to land the more significant strikes in the stand-up, but Garbrandt was measured in his approach and hit a few reactive takedowns to swing the momentum back in his favor.
Garbrandt went back to his wrestling roots in the second round. He landed his third takedown of the fight early in the frame and maintained top position until a kimura attempt from Font led the fight back to the feet.
The third frame was more about Font's boxing. Garbrandt was unable to find a takedown and the 5'8" Font utilized his jab and a varied attack to build a lead on the scorecards.
That trend would continue into the championship rounds. Font just continued to pepper Garbrandt with his jab anytime he tried to get anything going and No Love appeared to be gassed.
The former champion showed some life in the fifth round, but it was too little too late.
Font landed 176 significant strikes over the five-round fight compared to Garbrandt's 63, contextualizing a huge night for Font, who now figures to be in the thick of things in the bantamweight title picture.
- Rob Font def. Cody Garbrandt via unanimous decision (48-47, 50-45, 50-45)
- Carla Esparza def. Yan Xiaonan via TKO at 2:58 of Round 2
- Jared Vanderaa def. Justin Tafa via unanimous decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)
- Norma Dumont def Felicia Spencer via split decision (30-27, 28-29, 29-28)
- Ricardo Ramos def. Bill Algeo via unanimous decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)
- Jack Hermansson def. Edmen Shahbazyan via unanimous decision (29-27 x3)
- Ben Rothwell def. Chris Barnett via submission (guillotine) at 2:07 of Round 2
- Court McGee def. Claudio Silva via unanimous decision (30-26 x2, 29-27)
- Bruno Silva def. Victor Rodriguez via knockout at 1:00 of Round 1
- Joshua Culibao def. Shayilan Nuerdanbieke via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
- David Dvorak def. Juancamilo Ronderos via submission (rear-naked choke) at 2:18 of Round 1
- Damir Ismagulov def. Rafael Alves via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
Carla Esparza def. Yan Xiaonan
Carla Esparza didn't just beat Yan Xiaonan. She made a statement.
Cookie Monster took advantage of being in the co-main event spotlight with a dominant second-round TKO win over Xiaonan after vicious ground-and-pound from the crucifix position forced the end of the fight.
The trouble began for Xiaonan started early. Esparza is known for her wrestling and kept no secret about wanting to get the fight to the mat. An overly aggressive Xiaonan walked right into the takedown attempt and started taking plenty of damage in the first round.
Xiaonan came in as the favorite on the strength of a winning streak that stretched back to 2010. She didn't win a moment of the fight.
The next logical step for Esparza is a title shot. Considering she won the title from Rose Namajunas all the way in 2014, it's a pretty great story that could be coming full circle as she could fight Namajunas for the title again seven years later.
Jared Vanderaa def. Justin Tafa
It isn't often that two big heavyweights give three great rounds of action, but that's exactly what happened in the Jared Vanderaa versus Justin Tafa fight. Vanderaa drowned Tafa in volume, but the 27-year-old New Zealander had his moments as well.
All told the two combined to land over 200 combined significant strikes over three rounds. Tafa's best chance to win the fight came from a cut that he opened up over Vanderaa's eye that had him donning a serious crimson mask.
Once the blood was wiped away, the cut was much less serious than it originally looked and the fight was allowed to continue.
Vanderaa's pressure and pace carried the day as he took 30-27 scores on two of the judges' scorecards.
This was probably a win-win for both fighters. Vanderaa picked up his first UFC win and showcased a style that will keep him in the UFC. Tafa moves to 4-3 but has enough tools that he'll likely be given a chance to develop as well.
Norma Dumont def. Felicia Spencer
Norma Dumont emerged victorious by split decision in a rare women's featherweight bout with Felicia Spencer on the main card. The women's 145-pound division is the most shallow of all, they don't even have rankings.
Dumont made her case to move up with a win over the former title challenger, though.
It wasn't the most action-packed fight. There was plenty of struggle for control along the cage but the Brazilian had her moments in striking exchanges.
Dumont expressed interest in fighting at 135 pounds to stay busier. It's an interesting choice because it opens the door to better competition and more intriguing fights, but her closest path to a title is in the featherweight division where the UFC has few options to challenge Amanda Nunes.
The result also leaves Spencer's future with the company in question. She already had her crack at Nunes and lost via unanimous decision. With Dumont leapfrogging her in the hypothetical rankings there isn't much left for her to do unless they decide to beef up the division.
Ricardo Ramos def. Bill Algeo
Ricardo Ramos and Bill Algeo were relatively even on paper and it played out that way in the Octagon despite two 30-27 scores in the unanimous decision win for Ramos.
Both fighters had their moments as they engaged in a fun three-round fight. The second-round was one of the closest rounds scored by fans on Verdict MMA:
Ultimately, the judges chose Ramos' success in the grappling arena over Algeo's volume. According to ESPN, Algeo outpaced Ramos in significant strikes 76-53.
Getting the win gives Ramos some momentum back after getting knocked out in the first round of his fight against Lerone Murphy last time out. Algeo has now alternated wins and losses in each of his last five fights, going 2-3 in that stretch.
His performance here might be enough to keep his spot on the roster, but he'll need to start putting together wins soon.
Jack Hermansson def. Edmen Shahbazyan
The middleweight bout between Jack Hermansson and Edmen Shahbazyan played out in three distinct acts. Round 1 was a clear win for Shahbazyan, while Hermansson began mounting a comeback in Round 2 before ultimately scoring a 10-8 round to close it out.
The two key differences were Shahbazyan's cardio and Hermansson's grappling.
Shahbazyan was able to fend off takedown attempts in the first round and showed off the boxing that helped him to a 4-0 start in the UFC. But when his energy levels dipped in Round 2 and he couldn't quite fend off every Hermansson takedown attempt the tide started to turn.
By Round 3, it was all Hermansson.
The win is big for The Joker. He came into the bout with losses in two of the last three fights. Shahbazyan's momentum took a big hit in a loss to Derek Brunson in his first main event last time out, but the hype train has officially been halted with this loss.