EDMONTON, Alberta -- This was no vintage Cris "Cyborg" Justino performance. Which is not to say the Brazilian knockout artist fought poorly. She just didn't run through an opponent like a bulldozer, per usual.
Justino defeated Felicia Spencer by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) in the co-main event of UFC 240 on Saturday night at Rogers Place. While Justino got the victory, the story coming out of the bout might be the toughness of Spencer, who was rocked only once by one of the most dominant female fighters of all time.
In the first round, Spencer opened up the first cut of Justino's career with a slicing elbow to the forehead. Justino thanked her for it in her postfight interview with Joe Rogan. Justino also asked for a rematch with UFC women's featherweight champion Amanda Nunes, who beat her for the belt at UFC 232 in December. That's a notable callout, considering Justino was coming into Saturday on the last fight of her contract.
Araujo and Davis grapple for dominance
Viviane Araujo scores a takedown on Alexis Davis, but Davis tries to turn the tables by attempting a heel hook on Araujo. For more UFC, sign up here for ESPN+ http://plus.espn.com/ufc.
"I just wanted to get this victory first," Justino said. "Of course, I want Amanda, for sure. I asked for a rematch after that fight."
Nunes answered her on Twitter minutes later, writing she is "ready" for that bout.
- Amanda Nunes (@Amanda_Leoa) July 28, 2019
Justino landed the harder shots throughout, but even after hard combinations, Spencer barely flinched. In past fights, clean shots from Justino downed opponents or at least sent them scrambling. Spencer took all of Justino's best blows impressively. The only strike that rocked the Canadian was an elbow in the clinch in the third round.
Despite all that, it was a clear Justino victory, even if it didn't look like the buzz saw Cyborg of the past. She landed big combos, hard leg kicks and nice jabs. Spencer never put Justino in any trouble.
Justino (21-2, 1 NC), the former UFC, Strikeforce and Invicta featherweight champion, has won 11 of her past 12 fights. Cyborg came in ranked tied for second in ESPN's pound-for-pound women's MMA rankings with Valentina Shevchenko. Justino, 34, has won by decision only four times in her career.
Spencer (7-1) went 0-for-7 on takedown attempts against Justino. The Canada native, who lives and trains in Florida, is now 1-1 in the UFC. Spencer, 28, is the former Invicta FC featherweight champion.
The UFC's fighting waiter served up some serious violence Saturday night.
Neal landed thunderous ground and pound from guard to stop Price at 2:39 of the second round by TKO. The fight was wild up until that point, with both athletes getting rocked. Neal ended up on top after a scramble -- where he said he wanted to be -- and made it count.
"I knew a couple more shots and he'd be all the way out," Neal said. "The ref stopped it before it got to that point. Good job by the ref."
Price dropped Neal with a left hand (and an accidental head clash) in the first round. But Neal was able to recover and actually finished the first in mount. In the second, Price rocked Neal again, but in the ensuing exchange he jumped for a guillotine. It didn't work, and Neal ended up on top. Some brutal downward punches later, and the bout was done.
Neal (12-2) has won six in a row, including four in the UFC. The 28-year-old Texas native seems like someone to watch in the future at welterweight. Neal has won seven times in his career via TKO/KO. Price (13-3, 1 NC), a 29-year-old from Florida, has lost two of three.
Aubin-Mercier had a solid performance in the final fight on his UFC deal, but in the end it was not enough. Tsarukyan managed to land a takedown in the third round and spend much of the final five minutes on top to seal a unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) victory.
Tsarukyan was relentless with a pressuring, grinding style. He got out to a lead with that work in the first round, but Aubin-Mercier caught him coming in with a knee in the second to seemingly turn the momentum. It didn't last forever. Tsarukyan was dominant in the third, getting Aubin-Mercier down and landing elbows and punches.
Tsarukyan (14-2) is looking like a real prospect at lightweight. The 22-year-old Armenia native went the distance with Islam Makhachev in his UFC debut at UFC Saint Petersburg in April. He has won 13 of his past 14 fights. Aubin-Mercier, a 30-year-old Canadian fighter, has lost three in a row.
Jokto heard his name announced as winner, raised his hand and then dropped to the floor for a break-dancing routine.
The excitement of the celebration might have exceeded the action of the fight, though it was a solid split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) victory for Jotko. The majority of the bout took place in the clinch, with Jotko landing knees to the body, elbows and punches. Barriault landed a nice right hand at the end of the second and an elbow in the clinch in the third, but effective offense was not exactly coming in waves.
Jotko (21-4), once considered a middleweight contender, has now won two straight after going on a three-fight losing skid. The 29-year-old Poland native has 14 decision victories in his career, including seven of his eight UFC wins. Jotko is fourth among middleweights in UFC history with those seven decision victories. Barriault (11-2), a 29-year-old Canadian, has lost both of his UFC fights.
Two fights at flyweight in the UFC, two victories for Araujo. Not bad for a natural strawweight.
Araujo used her superior speed to defeat veteran Davis via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28). Araujo was a sniper from the outside, especially in the first and third rounds. She landed constant jabs and right hands to Davis' face, which was bloodied by the end of the second round.
Davis won the second round, getting a hold of Araujo and taking her down. But when the fight was standing, it was all Araujo, moving in and out and peppering the slower Davis with shots.
Araujo (8-1) has won five straight overall, including her first two in the UFC. This was the first decision win for the 32-year-old Brazilian. Davis (19-10), the 34-year-old Canadian former bantamweight title challenger, has lost three straight.
Dawodu had trouble with Horie's evasive, constantly moving style through the first half of the fight. Once Dawodu caught up, though, things got real violent. The finish -- a Dawodu TKO -- came at 4:09 of the third round.
With Horie slowing down in the third, Dawodu got him against the cage and landed some vicious offense, led by a knee to the body that did major damage. Soon after, Dawodu got Horie against the fence again, then landed a knee to the chin, another knee to the body and ultimately a left head kick that finished it.
Horie fought a good fight up until that point. He even dropped Dawodu twice in the first with blitzing punches, though one was closer to a trip.
Dawodu (10-1-1) has won three in a row. The 28-year-old Canadian earned his seventh career win by KO/TKO. Horie (8-2), a 24-year-old Japan native, had won two straight coming in.
Tucker tried the entire fight to get Choi down and himself into a dominant position. There were varying degrees of success throughout the bout, most of which Tucker won. Finally, in the third, Tucker got Choi's back, flattened him out and got the submission he wanted -- with a rear-naked choke hold at 3:17 of the final round.
Tucker's game plan was pretty obvious from the beginning: get Choi down. He did just that for short periods, but Choi always was able to scramble and escape. On the feet, Choi did well. But Tucker continued to execute his strategy until the stoppage came. In the second, Tucker had a point taken after he landed a knee to a grounded Choi.
Tucker (10-1) was coming off the first loss of his career against Rick Glenn in September 2017, here in Edmonton. (Tucker, 33, took a ton of damage during that bout, suffering several broken bones in his face that resulted in a nearly two-year layoff.) It was the fifth career submission win for the Canadian on Saturday. Choi (7-3), a 26-year-old Korean fighter, has lost both of his UFC fights.
Koch tries to choke out Stewart before final bell
Erik Koch tries to finish Kyle Stewart by choking him out, but is unable to beat the final bell. For more UFC, sign up here for ESPN+ http://plus.espn.com/ufc.
Figueiredo and Pantoja might not have been directly fighting to show people why the UFC should keep its flyweight division alive. But that was the outcome.
In a contender for fight of the night, the two lightning-fast Brazilians threw down for three rounds. Figueiredo had Pantoja busted up and bleeding from multiple cuts on his face by the end for a unanimous decision victory (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
Coming in, Pantoja and Figueiredo were ranked No. 5 and No. 6, respectively, in ESPN's flyweight rankings.
Figueiredo dropped Pantoja in the second round and landed several standing elbows in the third in a frenetic performance done largely with his hands down coming forward. Pantoja landed some hard punches late in the third, but it was too late.
Figueiredo (16-1) rebounded here from the first loss of his career, against Jussier Formiga at UFC Nashville in March. The 31-year-old is 5-1 in the UFC. Pantoja (21-4), a 29-year-old Ultimate Fighter alum, had won three straight coming in.
Robertson went right into Frota's biggest strength -- grappling -- and managed to finish her. "Savage" indeed.
Robertson, a Canada native who lives in Florida, beat Frota by TKO at 4:13 of the second round via some nasty ground and pound from mount. By the end, Frota was bleeding from cuts over both eyes, courtesy of slicing Robertson elbows.
Robertson took Frota down in the first and had a varying amount of success in an active guard. In the second, Robertson imposed her will against a wilting Frota.
Robertson (7-3) has won two in a row and four UFC victories, the most in the fledgling women's flyweight division. This was the first TKO victory of the 24-year-old's young career. Frota (9-2), a 27-year-old Brazilian, has lost two straight to start her UFC run.
"New Breed" is in a new weight class and looked like a new fighter.
Koch, who once fought as light as featherweight, debuted at welterweight Saturday night and defeated Stewart by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28). Stewart was content to clinch and pressure his smaller opponent against the cage. But the grappling game actually went the way of Koch in the end. He was able to take Stewart down in the third round and seal a victory with big elbows from mount and half guard.
Koch (16-6) earned his first victory since 2016. The Iowa native had not fought since January 2018. Koch, 30, snapped a two-fight losing streak. Stewart (11-3), a 30-year-old Arizona native, has dropped two straight.