Ige (14-2) has quietly been on a tear in the UFC's 145-pound division. His six-fight win streak is tied with current champion Alex Volkanovski and Russian standout Zabit Magomedsharipov for the second longest in the division. The 28-year-old hasn't lost since his UFC debut in January 2018.
Saturday's bout was Ige's toughest assignment yet in the UFC, as he had to survive a knockdown in the first round and a nasty knee to the body in the second. Two judges scored the bout for Ige 29-28, while a third saw it 29-28 for Barboza.
"Edson is a tough guy, one of the best in the world," Ige said. "You know there's a blueprint, and that you have to pressure him, but it's not easy. I woke up this morning and said, 'I've gotta fight Edson Barboza.' I was shaking, nervous. When I got to the arena, I was in a different mode. I don't care who's in front of me. I'm going to do my best to get that W."
Ige opened up with a ton of pressure as he targeted Barboza's head with jabs and overhand rights. He was having some success, until Barboza answered with a clean elbow and a piston right hand that put Ige down. Barboza followed with some hammerfists but couldn't secure a finish.
The second round was similar, in that Ige found early success with his punches but was visibly hurt by a knee to the body late in the round. Ige finished the frame fighting off his back, although he managed to avoid taking further damage.
The final frame was all Ige. He ate Barboza's notorious leg kick well and crowded him with punches. Barboza was bleeding badly from the bridge of his nose by the end of the fight. Ige also suffered a cut under his right eye, caused by a Barboza left hook.
Officially, Barboza outlanded Ige 80-79. However, Ige outlanded Barboza in the final two rounds.
Immediately after the massive win, Ige called for any one of the division's top names.
"I proved that I'm definitely a contender. I'm one of the best guys. I showed that tonight against Edson. Edson is so good, people don't realize just because he's had a skid in his last five fights, but it doesn't take anything away from him. He's only lost to the best guys. People better start recognizing and realize that I'm in this for real. I'm not just the manager boy that runs around running errands for everyone. I'm a fighter, I'm here and I'm one of the best in the world."
-- Brett Okamoto
Heavyweight: Alistair Overeem (46-18) defeats Walt Harris (13-8) by second-round TKO
Harris dropped Overeem with a big combination in the first round. Harris pounded him with punches on the ground. Overeem was a bloody mess, with cuts on his lip and near his left eye. Harris was one or two more big shots away from getting a TKO victory -- the biggest and most emotional win of his career.
It didn't come.
Instead, Overeem landed a big head kick and finished Harris on the ground with punches at 3 minutes of the second round Saturday night in the main event at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena.
No fans were in attendance due to the coronavirus pandemic. It was the UFC's third card in eight days in Jacksonville.
Hill sends Gadelha for a spin with right hand
Angela Hill lands a massive right hand in the second round that sends Claudia Gadelha spinning to the canvas.
Gadelha has been to the top of the mountain before. On Saturday, she continued her climb back up. Gadelha, who in 2016 made an unsuccessful bid to dethrone Joanna Jedrzejczyk as UFC strawweight champion, scored her second straight victory -- but she had to venture out of her comfort zone to do it.
The 31-year-old Brazilian, who is No. 8 in the ESPN strawweight rankings, has been training in the striking-heavy camp of Mark Henry in New Jersey. She fared well on her feet against Hill, who was 16-0 as a kickboxer. But late in Round 1, Gadelha got the fight to the canvas, right into side control; and as the final seconds ticked off, she landed some big shots.
If you fight in Jacksonville you have to finish. Terrible judges.— Rafael dos Anjos (@RdosAnjosMMA) May 17, 2020
Hill turned things around in the second round, dropping Gadelha for just the second time in her career. The round was barely a minute old at the time, and Hill was emboldened, controlling the standup the rest of the way. She landed by far more shots than Gadelha in the final two rounds, beat her to the punch again and again, and landed the more damaging shots.
Nonetheless, only one judge scored the fight Hill's way. All three saw it as a 29-28 fight.
For Gadelha, it was her seventh win in the UFC strawweight division, tying her with three others (among them, Hill) for the second most in division history.
It was Hill's seventh fight since the beginning of 2019, the most of any fighter in the UFC.
-- Jeff Wagenheim
Jotko celebrates win by break dancing and signing autographs for nonexistent fans
Krzysztof Jotko shows off his moves by break dancing after his win in the Octagon, then high-fiving and signing autographs for the empty arena.
In a hard-fought battle of two men trying to carve out a spot as a middleweight contender, Jotko came out on top by a relatively small margin.
Jotko stuffed most of Anders' takedowns and did enough on the feet to win a unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28). Jotko capped the victory with a slick break-dancing celebration, but he didn't seem all that pleased with the way he won.
"Game plan was knock him out, like I say in my interviews," Jotko said in his postfight interview. "So, I'm sorry."
Anders had some success in the first round, especially with strikes off clinch separation. But Jotko stopped all of Anders' takedowns and started to make him pay in the second and third with hard left hands and combinations.
Jotko has the second-highest takedown defense in UFC middleweight history (86%), per ESPN Stats & Information data. Only champion Israel Adesanya has a better mark (86.5%).
Jotko, 30, has won three straight following a three-fight skid. After nine victories, he is now tied for second in UFC history in wins by a Polish fighter with Jan Blachowicz. Joanna Jedrzejczyk has the most (10).
Anders, a 33-year-old former Alabama football player, had his two-fight winning streak snapped.
-- Marc Raimondi
Song and Vera trade blows in Round 3
Song Yadong and Marlon Vera go back and forth in the third round trading powerful blows in an extremely close fight.
One of the UFC's youngest stars shined once more. But it was only a flicker. Song, 22, extended his unbeaten streak to nine with a slim victory that put a halt to "Chito" Vera's five-fight winning streak
There wasn't much separating these fighters -- in skill level or in space within the Octagon. Although Vera repeatedly tried to keep the fight at kicking range by pushing Song back with front kicks to the midsection, when the fight moved to close quarters, Vera dished out as much as he absorbed.
Call the cops #ufc chito got robbed— Jorge Masvidal UFC (@GamebredFighter) May 17, 2020
But Song landed the harder, crisper punches, especially in the first two rounds. He never deterred Vera from advancing, though. And in Round 3, Vera landed a pair of takedowns and controlled the fight on the canvas for a bit. Once the men got back to their feet, Song went back to work with aggressive striking, and Vera did not flinch.
Song outlanded Vera 101-92 in significant strikes and had the advantage in two of three rounds, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
"I was thinking it was maybe a split decision, but when I heard it was a unanimous decision, I felt good. But I didn't do well in this fight," Song said. "I feel like I learned a lot from this fight. When I have the chance, I will review this fight and get more experience for when I come back. I feel that I'm on the right track, and I trust my coaches, like Urijah Faber, and he's leading me the right way."
-- Jeff Wagenheim
Miguel Baeza and Matt Brown exchange powerful combos
Matt Brown unleashes a furious combo on Miguel Baeza, who quickly responds with one of his own in the first round.
The man who calls himself "Caramel Thunder" delivered one of the sweetest highlights of the night, in the form of a second-round knockout. Baeza, 27, picked up his second UFC win, as he knocked out Brown with a vicious left hook 18 seconds into the second round. It is the seventh knockout win of Baeza's career, and he becomes just the seventh welterweight in UFC history to begin his career with back-to-back knockouts.
The finish came after a wild first round, in which Baeza himself was nearly knocked out. Brown, 39, buckled Baeza's legs with a right hand along the fence, then followed up with multiple nasty standing elbows. Baeza managed to survive, however, and even dropped Brown moments later with a right hand.
I told u so! Baeza is a beast! https://t.co/iZSJPJCxI0— GILBERT BURNS DURINHO (@GilbertDurinho) May 17, 2020
Brown immediately looked to pick the action back up in the second round but wound up walking straight into the counter left that ended his night.
"We knew he's a forward guy," Baeza said. "I wanted to make sure I got a good counter.
"I don't know what it is about these fights, these COVID-19, short-notice fights; they are a lot of fun."
Brown has now been stopped eight times in his UFC career, including three knockouts losses since 2016.
"I missed my opportunity the first time to finish him, so the second round I wanted to make sure I finished the fight right there," Baeza said. "As soon as I knocked him down, I tried to get on top of him because his nickname is 'The Immortal,' so I'm not about to let a guy with that name get away after I get a knockdown like that. It turned into a fight; he caught me and I just wanted to get him back, and it became a scrap after that.
"I saw what he had, took his shot and then I was able to get my timing from there. I'm super thankful to be here, and I wanted to come here and prove that I belong. Fighting Matt Brown and getting a win proves that I belong here, so I'm just grateful for the opportunity."
Holland did not need a feeling-out spell. He walked into the Octagon feeling it. He came roaring out of his corner and landed a straight punch and two kicks, which backed Hernandez against the cage. Moments later, Holland stunned his opponent with an elbow to the face, then dropped him with a knee to the midsection.
After a few shots on a turtled-up Hernandez on the ground, referee Michael Cardoso jumped in to end it at 39 seconds.
Why the fast start? Holland said it was because he looked over at the broadcasters just before the start and did not see Daniel Cormier. "And I thought, if he starts wrestling, I ain't gonna have the wrestling advice," he joked to interviewer Paul Felder. "I had to go ahead and get it out of the way early. [DC] left before I could get the cheat code. It ain't right."
Cormier, who was an analyst for the week's first two fight cards in Jacksonville, had been told by competitors that they had heard his cageside commentary and adjusted their game plans. DC then began referring to himself as a cheat code.
For Holland, the quick win ended a two-fight losing streak, which came following four straight victories. Hernandez has lost two of his past three.
"Feels fantastic, feels like this is what I've been waiting to do since I made it to the UFC," Holland said. "Now I have my second finish; I guess it took me to get finished to open up my eyes and see what I need to do in here.
"I worked on my diet; I start working with a meal company and starting eating properly. I got back to the bread and butter, training hard, practicing my forms again like old-school kung fu; I'm staying true to martial arts. We've been working elbows for a while, so being able to throw that elbow and then instantly hit the body shot with the knee, my Muay Thai is definitely going up. I really want to drop to 170, and I want to put in work on that division. I used to fight there, I got my first belt there, so I want to rinse and repeat here."
Chikadze did exactly what he should have done against an overmatched opponent coming in on two days' notice. Just short of getting the finish, that is. Rivera showed incredible durability, but Chikadze was the far superior striker in a dominant, unanimous decision victory (30-26, 30-27, 30-27).
Rivera was officially added to the card on Friday, after Chikadze's original opponent, Mike Davis, fell ill this week due to weight-cutting issues. It took Chikadze a bit to get his rhythm in the first round, and Rivera was extremely game and willing to engage with the ace kickboxer on the feet.
By the second, though, Chikadze started styling on Rivera. He landed a front kick to the face, a question mark kick and counter knees as the shorter Rivera blitzed in. Rivera's face was covered in blood midway through the second.
In the third, Chikadze dropped Rivera briefly with a knee, but Rivera came right back with a combination. In the final seconds, Chikadze went for a rolling thunder kick that missed. Rivera pounced on the prone Chikadze and fell for a leg lock, but time expired.
Chikadze, 31, has won five straight, including his first three fights in the UFC. The Georgia native, who trains out of Kings MMA in Huntington Beach, California, is someone to watch in the featherweight division because of his striking prowess.
Rivera, a 31-year-old Florida native and former Titan FC bantamweight champion, was making his UFC debut. His three-fight winning streak was snapped.
"I think most fans have only seen Giga at 25 percent. There is a lot more to see," Chikadze said. "My friends call it the 'Giga Show.' It will slowly come, and when we reach 100 percent, you guys will be very happy to watch and enjoy a lot.
"I would love to fight maybe in a month or two. I want to get someone from the top 15. Any of the strikers are more than welcome; I don't really care much. I just want to show more. All of my fights were in the prelims or the beginning of the show, so I want a good fight against a good name that people know, so that I can show a bigger audience my skills, my fight and make more people happy with the show."
Landwehr showboats with one arm behind his back
Nate Landwehr shows off his confidence as puts one of his arms behind his back while fighting.
Judges score fights based on what they see, and what they saw in this fight was blood. Both fighters were covered in it, and every gruesome droplet was Elkins'. So Landwehr was awarded two 30-27 scorecards and a 29-28.
But what the judges apparently didn't notice was that the first bloodshed was caused by a head-butt, not a punch or kick. And what they also seemed to miss was Elkins outworking -- and outlanding -- Landwehr for stretches. In the end, the significant strike numbers were close, with Elkins landing 121 to 118.
Damn, soooo much blood!— Funky Ben (@Benaskren) May 16, 2020
But it all added up to a fourth loss in a row for Elkins, who was fighting in the UFC for the 23rd time. Landwehr, meanwhile, got back on the winning track. He lost his UFC debut in January, ending a seven-fight winning streak.
Bloodshed aside, Landwehr also likely impressed the judges with his poise. Even as he was getting clipped by Elkins, he calmly continued to advance. And as Landwehr's confidence built, so did his swagger. In Round 2, which was his best round, Landwehr stunned Elkins with a short elbow to the chin -- but instead of swarming his opponent, Landwehr stepped back to admire his work and yell out, "Dana!"
The swagger might have played well with UFC president Dana White, especially since Landwehr did not pay a price for his showboating.
Casey's first UFC appearance at flyweight couldn't have gone much better. The longtime strawweight, who moved up to 125 pounds for this bout, submitted Romero Borella via armbar at 3:36 of the first round.
Casey, 33, said she intends to stick around the weight class for the foreseeable future. She has fought in the UFC's 115-pound division since 2015.
First arm bar from the gaurd I seen in the ufc since my man @The_Real_GM3 did it— Belal Muhammad (@bullyb170) May 16, 2020
"It was very important to come out aggressive," Casey said. "Not having fans here, I knew I still needed to put on a show and finish the fight. I'm probably going stay [at flyweight] for a bit, talk to the matchmakers and see what happens. I like flyweight. Short-notice fights are a lot easier at 125."
Casey opened up the bout with a few right hands, which quickly led to a takedown attempt from Borella. Casey ended up on her back, but it was clear she felt comfortable looking for a submission there. Borella seemed wise to it but still couldn't stop it -- and she verbally and physically tapped immediately, once Casey locked up the arm.
It was the fourth submission win of Casey's career and first since August 2016.
Rodrigo Nascimento scores big takedown vs. Don'Tale Mayes
Rodrigo Nascimento trades blows with Don'Tale Mayes then scores a nice takedown in the first round.
The UFC might have a new heavyweight prospect on its hands. Nascimento took Mayes down in the second round, got his back and choked him out at 2:05 of the frame to remain undefeated.
Nascimento had success on the feet in the first round, then got Mayes down and finished out the round in top position. Mayes landed a nice counter hook, but the first was controlled by Nascimento.
Nascimento, in his 20s, 100% finish rate = prospect! #UFCFL— John Gooden (@JohnGoodenUK) May 16, 2020
It was more of the same in the second. Nascimento got Mayes against the cage and used a slick trip to put him on the mat.
Afterward, Nascimento called out Chase Sherman, who was victorious in his UFC return on Wednesday.
Nascimento, 27, was making his debut off a win last year on Dana White's Contender Series. The Brazil native is now training at American Top Team in Florida. Nascimento has finished six of his eight career wins by submission.
Mayes, 28, has lost two straight and is still looking for his first UFC win.