ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Francis Ngannou is the most frightening power puncher in UFC history. But he reminded everyone Saturday night that he is not just that. Ngannou showed off a well-rounded game -- and immeasurable heart -- befitting the champion he is.
Down on the cards early, the hardest-hitting man perhaps ever in MMA went to his wrestling and Brazilian jiu-jitsu to gut out a unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 49-46) win over Ciryl Gane in the main event of UFC 270 here at Honda Center. With the victory, Ngannou unifies the UFC undisputed heavyweight title. Gane came in as the interim champ.
"My ground game is evolving," Ngannou said in his postfight interview.
Men's flyweight championship: Deiveson Figueiredo (21-2-1, 10-2-1 UFC) def. Brandon Moreno (c) (19-6-2, 7-3-2 UFC) by unanimous decision (Watch this fight on ESPN+)
Deiveson Figueiredo reclaims flyweight title after five-round thriller
Deiveson Figueiredo and Brandon Moreno meet in an epic five-round match, with Figueiredo reclaiming his UFC flyweight title.
Mexican fans showed up in droves Saturday to witness the UFC's first Mexican-born champion, Brandon Moreno, defend his title for the first time. But by the slimmest of margins, Deiveson Figueiredo spoiled the party.
Figueiredo (21-2-1) reclaimed the 125-pound title he lost to Moreno (19-6-2) last June by defeating his rival by unanimous decision. All three judges scored the flyweight title fight, which co-headlined UFC 270 inside the Honda Center, in favor of Figueiredo, 48-47.
Welterweight: Michel Pereira (27-11, 2 NC; 5-2, 1 NC UFC) def. Andre Fialho (14-4, 1 NC; 0-1 UFC) by unanimous decision (Watch this fight on ESPN+)
Michel Pereira, Andre Fialho's second round is a must-watch
Michel Pereira and Andre Fialho give the fans their money's worth in the second round of their fight at UFC 270.
Pereira is not the wild man he used to be in his early UFC fights. He's developed a more disciplined approach, but as Saturday's fight against Fialho wore on, Pereira gradually unleashed his full arsenal of creative attacks, and that propelled him to his fourth straight victory.
Pereira was somewhat conservative at the start of the fight, and he got walked down for much of the first round, taking the worst of most exchanges. But early in Round 2 he let go with several front kicks to the body, and once he had slowed Fialho's advances, Pereira started going to the spinning punches and flying knees he is known for. It turned around the fight, as he was in full command of the second round and got the better of a close third.
All three judges scored the fight 29-28 in favor of Pereira, the 28-year-old from Brazil who had a 107-45 edge in significant strikes. Pereira landed 44 times to the body, to five for Fialho.
Fialho, who is 27 and from Portugal, fights out of Deerfield Beach, Florida. He saw a four-fight winning streak come to an end in his UFC debut.
Men's bantamweight: Said Nurmagomedov (15-2, 4-1 UFC) def, Cody Stamann (19-5-1, 4-4-1 UFC) by first-round submission (Watch this fight on ESPN+)
It's probably not wise to go to the ground with a fighter whose last name is Nurmagomedov.
Stamann attempted to take Nurmagomedov down early with a body lock, and he did so. But Nurmagomedov transitioned into a guillotine choke and Stamann had no choice but to tap at just 47 seconds of the first round. It was the biggest win of Nurmagomedov's career thus far, and the third-fastest submission in UFC bantamweight history.
"I am preparing for all three rounds, but this was my favorite choke," Nurmagomedov said.
Nurmagomedov, 29, has won two in a row and four of five overall in the UFC. He looks like someone to watch in the 135-pound division. The Dagestan native, who is not of any relation to the legendary Khabib, reunited with coach Mark Henry for this training camp. Stamann, a 32-year-old Michigan native fighting out of Las Vegas, has lost three straight.
Welterweight: Michael Morales (13-0, 1-0 UFC) def. Trevin Giles (14-4, 5-4 UFC) by first-round TKO (Watch this fight on ESPN+)
Morales looks like he could turn into a problem for this division for years to come. The Ecuadorian prospect is only 22 years old, but he showed remarkable poise and confidence in his UFC debut. And when an opportunity presented itself to finish the fight, Morales didn't miss.
Referee Marc Beltran called off the contest at the 4:06 mark. Morales hurt Giles with a counter uppercut as he came forward. Dazed, Giles swung back defensively to try to back Morales off. Morales evaded the punches and dropped Giles again with a follow-up shot. Giles turtled at that point and the fight was over.
What a way to start a ppv #UFC270— Ian Heinisch (@ianheinischmma) January 23, 2022
Morales, who now trains out of Tijuana, has finished 11 of his 13 professional wins. Giles was not an easy draw for a UFC debut, as came in with eight fights of UFC experience.
Men's bantamweight: Victor Henry (22-5, 1-0 UFC) def. Raoni Barcelos (16-3, 5-2 UFC) by unanimous decision (Watch this fight on ESPN+)
Barcelos was dangerous, winging big shots right from the get-go. But Henry kept coming forward, and his relentlessness wore down his opponent to the point where Barcelos' power was all but sapped. As a result, Henry, who was a 4-to-1 underdog, earned 30-27 scores from all three judges to win his UFC debut, his 10th victory in his last 11 fights.
No debuting bantamweight since 2007 has won at longer odds than the 34-year-old from Los Angeles. Henry was on Barcelos from midway through the first round until the end of the third, using kicks to the midsection to slow the Brazilian, and appeared to have him hurt and threatening a finish a couple of times late in the bout.
The fighters combined for 315 significant strikes, the most in a three-round bantamweight fight and second most of any 135-pound bout in the UFC. Henry's 181 landed were the third most both by a bantamweight and by any debuting UFC fighter.
Barcelos, 34, lost his second in a row following a nine-fight winning streak.
Welterweight: Jack Della Maddalena (11-2, 1-0 UFC) def. Pete Rodriguez (4-1, 0-1 UFC) by first-round TKO (Watch this fight on ESPN+)
Jack Della Maddalena wins his UFC debut with clean left hook
Jack Della Maddalena defeats Pete Rodriguez in his UFC debut with a nice left hook at UFC 270.
Those in the know about Australian MMA think Della Maddalena has a chance to be a big star. It was pretty clear to see why Saturday evening.
In his UFC debut, Della Maddalena used his slick boxing to earn a TKO win at 2:59 of the first round over Rodriguez. The finishing blow, after Della Maddalena already bloodied Rodriguez's nose, was a step-back straight left hand that dropped Rodriguez. Referee Frank Trigg was quick to step in and stop the fight without Della Maddalena needing to land another shot.
"I was waiting for the jitters and they never came," Della Maddalena. "Same as usual."
Della Maddalena used his southpaw boxing skills to perfection, working a nice jab and landing hard right hooks and straight lefts. The jab bloodied up Rodriguez's nose. Della Maddalena landed a hard left and a right hook prior to the left-hand finish.
He beat him up quick. 🩸 #UFC270— Niko Price (@Nikohybridprice) January 23, 2022
Della Maddalena, 25, has not lost since his first two pro bouts in 2016, a streak of 11 straight victories. The Australia native earned his way into the UFC via Dana White's Contender Series. He beat Ange Loosa via unanimous decision back in September.
Rodriguez, a 25-year-old Arizona resident, had four knockouts in four career fights coming in.
Men's bantamweight: Tony Gravely (22-7, 3-2 UFC) vs. Saimon Oliveira (18-4, 0-1 UFC) by unanimous decision (Watch this fight on ESPN+)
Gravely, of Virginia, turned Saturday's bantamweight bout into a wrestling match as he racked up 11 total takedowns and 11:28 worth of control time. Judges awarded the 30-year-old's efforts with unanimous scores of 30-27.
Oliveira was clearly the more dangerous man on the feet, but he simply couldn't keep the fight there. He repeatedly attacked Gravely with the guillotine choke -- a maneuver he has finished multiple fights with in his career -- but could never quite secure it.
Gravely spent the majority of the fight either on top or clinched with Oliveira along the fence. It was not the most scintillating performance, but was still the result Gravely was looking for. He suffered a second-round knockout loss to Nate Maness in his last bout in September. Oliveira threatened Gravely with a few big shots here and there, including a flying knee and spinning backfist, but it was Gravely's fight for the most part.
Oliveira is now 0-1 in the Octagon, as this was his UFC debut. He earned a contract on the Contender Series last year.
Lightweight: Matt Frevola (9-3-1, 3-3-1 UFC) def. Genaro Valdez (10-1, 0-1 UFC) by first-round TKO (Watch this fight on ESPN+)
Matt Frevola, Genaro Valdez give the fans a show in epic first round
Matt Frevola somehow pulls off the victory over Genaro Valdez in an epic round of fighting.
Frevola swung. Valdez swung. For 195 seconds, that is what they did in the slobberknocker to end all slobberknockers.
Frevola got the better of a wild exchange midway through the round to get a knockdown, but Valdez bounced right back up, wobbly but still swinging for the fences.
But Frevola, who is 31 and fights out of Huntington, New York, didn't stop his attack and kept knocking his opponent to the canvas. He was credited with four knockdowns but it seemed like more. Even so, the four knockdowns would be a UFC record for a fight ending in the first round.
Holy moly! That fight was so wild! #ufc270— Tatiana Suarez (@tatianaufc) January 23, 2022
Unable to turn out the lights on Valdez, Frevola finally got a dominant position on top of his opponent, rendered him defenseless on his stomach and dropped punch after punch until referee Mike Beltran jumped in to end it at 3:15. The win halted Frevola's two-fight skid and gave him his first finish since 2017.
Valdez, a 30-year-old Mexican, suffered the first defeat of his career in his UFC debut.
Strawweight: Vanessa Demopoulos (7-4, 1-1 UFC) def. Silvana Gomez Juarez (10-4, 0-2 UFC) by first-round submission (Watch this fight on ESPN+)
Vanessa Demopoulos somehow comes back to beat her opponent
Vanessa Demopoulos is able to beat Silvana Gomez Juarez for one of the better comebacks you'll ever see in the UFC.
Demopoulos made a very, very early bid for MMA comeback of the year.
After Gomez Juarez dropped her hard with a right hand, Demopoulos kept her composure and locked in an armbar submission finish at 2:25 of the first round.
Demopoulos jumped into interviewer Joe Rogan's arms in jubilation following her postfight interview.
"I woke up on the ground for a second," Demopoulos said of getting cracked with the right hand.
But Demopoulos came to very quickly, realized she had an underhook from the bottom and used that to leverage herself into an armbar from the bottom. Demopoulos then swept into top position, still with the armbar intact, and finished the fight beautifully.
"I love jiu-jitsu," Demopoulos said. "I could do jiu-jitsu all day long every single time."
crazy!!! That right there is why this sport is the best! Never out of it— Paul Felder (@felderpaul) January 23, 2022
Demopoulos, 33, picked up her first UFC victory after dropping her debut against JJ Aldrich last August. The Ohio native, who fights out of Fight Ready in Arizona, earned just her second win in her last five fights.
Gomez Juarez, a 37-year-old Argentinean fighting out of Mexico, is now 0-2 in the UFC.
Women's flyweight: Jasmine Jasudavicius (7-1, 1-0 UFC) def. Kay Hansen (7-5, 1-2 UFC) by unanimous decision (Watch this fight on ESPN+)
This fight was a step up to something bigger for both women. Jasudavicius was making her UFC debut. Hansen was competing at 125 pounds for the first time after making her first two Octagon appearances at strawweight.
But Hansen also had something else to overcome: inactivity. She was fighting for the first time since November 2020.
Jasudavicius, 32, from Ontario, Canada, was the sharper fighter, fending off four Hansen takedown attempts in the first round. She earned one of her own, then maintained control the rest of the way. One judge scored all three rounds for Jasudavicius, while the other two had it 29-28. This was Jasudavicius' third win in a row.
Hansen, a 22-year-old from Fullerton, California, lost her second fight in a row after a three-fight winning streak.