The ordering process for Ultimate Fighting Championship pay-per-views has changed: UFC 238 is only available on ESPN+ in the U.S.
Henry Cejudo answered history’s call.
The 2008 Olympic gold medalist became the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s fourth simultaneous two-division titleholder, as he took care of Marlon Moraes with ground-and-pound and captured the vacant bantamweight belt in the third round of their UFC 238 headliner on Saturday at the United Center in Chicago. Moraes (22-6-1, 4-2 UFC) was deemed unfit to continue 4:51 into Round 3.
Already in possession of the UFC flyweight crown, Cejudo (15-2, 9-2 UFC) overcame considerable difficulty to reach the 135-pound summit. Moraes obliterated his legs with lightning-quick kicks in the first round but could not break the Fight Ready star’s spirit. Cejudo adjusted his approach between rounds, pressured the former World Series of Fighting champion with punches and hammered him with knee strikes from the collar tie. Ultimately, Moraes’ gas tank failed him. He had little to offer in the third round, where he was met with more close-range knees and became entangled in an anaconda choke that allowed Cejudo to assume top position. Laced with elbows and hammerfists, heavy ground-and-pound followed and led to the stoppage.
Shevchenko Kick KOs Eye
Valentina Shevchenko retained the undisputed UFC women’s flyweight championship and did so in violent fashion, as she knocked out Jessica Eye with a head kick in the second round of their co-main event. An unconscious Eye (14-7, 4-6 UFC) hit the canvas 26 seconds into Round 2 and remained motionless for several tense moments.
Shevchenko (17-3, 6-2 UFC) was never in jeopardy. She tenderized the challenger’s body with a series of body kicks in the first round, secured two takedowns and threatened with a kimura from the crucifix position in the closing seconds. The gulf in skill between the two women was enormous. Shevchenko fired more kicks to the body in Round 2, then went high and slammed her shin into Eye’s skull. The Xtreme Couture representative froze and collapsed, her head bouncing off the mat in one of the most brutal finishes in women’s MMA history.
Shevchenko will carry a three-fight winning streak into her next title defense.
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Ferguson Batters Cerrone, Cements No. 1 Contender Status
“The Ultimate Fighter” Seasons 13 winner Tony Ferguson forged a second-round stoppage against Donald Cerrone in their highly anticipated lightweight showdown, cementing himself as the No. 1 contender at 155 pounds. Referee Dan Miraglioitta waved it off between the second and third rounds after Cerrone’s damaged right eye had swollen shut.
Ferguson (25-3, 15-1 UFC) was relentless. After a back-and-forth first round, he pushed a pace Cerrone could not keep. Ferguson slammed home one ferocious jab after another in Round 2, clipped “Cowboy” with spinning back elbows and attacked the body with kicks. However, he brought controversy into the equation when he landed a punch after the bell that seemed to stun Cerrone (36-12, 23-9 UFC), who absorbed the impact and returned to his corner for the one-minute respite. He blew his nose as he prepared for the third round, which caused his eye to immediately expand to grotesque proportions and necessitated the stoppage.
The 35-year-old Ferguson has pieced together a historic 12-fight winning streak and figures to await the winner of the forthcoming Khabib Nurmagomedov-Dustin Poirier title fight later this year or in early 2019.
Yan Outstrikes Rivera to Decision
The fast-rising Petr Yan moved one step closer to a title shot at 135 pounds, as he took a unanimous decision from Team Tiger Schulmann’s Jimmie Rivera in a three-round bantamweight showcase. Yan (13-1, 5-0 UFC) swept the scorecards with 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27 marks from the judges.
Rivera (22-4, 6-3 UFC) was competitive but lacked the firepower necessary to keep pace with the former Absolute Championship Berkut titleholder. Yan leveled him with a left hook in the waning moments of the first round and folded him with a crushing right at the end of the second. On both occasions, Rivera appeared to be saved by the bell. Perhaps owing to the belief that he already had two rounds in the bank, Yan dialed down the aggression a notch over the final five minutes but still managed to send his counterpart’s mouthpiece flying with a right uppercut.
The 26-year-old Yan has posted eight straight wins.
Ivanov Downs Tuivasa in Slugfest
Former World Series of Fighting champion Blagoy Ivanov won for the seventh time in eight appearances, as he laid claim to a unanimous decision over Tai Tuivasa in a grueling three-round heavyweight feature. All three cageside judges scored it for Ivanov (18-2, 2-1 UFC): 29-28, 30-27 and 30-27.
In a fight where both men threw caution to the wind, Ivanov landed the cleaner, more telling blows. He decked Tuivasa with a right hand behind the ear in the first round and beat him to the punch for much of the 15-minute bout. Ivanov also mixed in a pair of takedowns and threatened the Australian with standing guillotine chokes along the fence on more than one occasion. Tuivasa (8-2, 3-2 UFC) had his moments -- he staggered the Bulgarian with a left hand in the second round and took a bite out of the inside of his lead leg with repeated kicks in the third -- but came up short where it mattered most.
Tuivasa, 26, has lost back-to-back fights since starting his career 8-0.
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