On Saturday night, the UFC returned to glimmering Las Vegas, Nevada with the finale of the latest season of The Ultimate Fighter. When all was said and done, this card would go down as one of the best in recent memory, and a true showcase for the oft-underappreciated flyweight division.
Here's a recap of the action for those who missed it!
The Main Card:
"Mighty Mouse" Weathers Early Storm to Retain Title
In the main event of the evening, flyweight champion Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson sought to build on his reputation as MMA's pound-for-pound king with a win over the unheralded Tim Elliott—a challenger produced by the latest season of The Ultimate Fighter.
Despite being pegged as a massive underdog leading into this fight, Elliott nearly won it in the first round, first dropping the champ with a right hand, then threatening him with a deep guillotine choke. From there, however, the dominant flyweight king got to work with his grappling, amassing almost 17 minutes of control time and threatening with three submission attempts over the final four rounds. The end result, then, was a clear-cut unanimous decision win for the champ.
In victory, Mighty Mouse improves his win-streak to eleven, and is now just one title defense shy of tying Anderson Silva's record of 10 straight title defenses. If he breaks this record, it'll likely come time for a jump up to the bantamweight division. The flyweight king is now a fantastic 25-2-1 overall.
In defeat, Elliott has a three-fight winning streak derailed. That said, he looked better than ever against Mighty Mouse. He's now 13-7-1 overall.
Benavidez Edges Cejudo in Action-Packed Battle
The co-main event of the evening saw top-ranked flyweights Joseph Benavidez and Henry Cejudo duke it out in a clash of recent Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson victims. It was a thrilling encounter.
Round one seemed to belong to Cejudo, though he was deducted one point after two consecutive, inadvertent groin shots landed. Rounds two and three, meanwhile, were much closer, as the two flyweights pelted each other with heavy artillery for 10 straight minutes.
In the end, the judges awarded a split decision to Benavidez. With the win, the WEC veteran extends his win-streak to six. He's now 25-4 overall. Cejudo, meanwhile, falls onto his first two-fight losing streak. He's now 10-2 in sum.
Masvidal Scores Strange Win Over Ellenberger
The final non-flyweight bout of the night paired Jorge Masvidal with Jake Ellenberger in a key welterweight showdown. The end of this fight couldn't have been stranger.
As the first round wound down, Ellenberger got his foot stuck in the edge of the cage. Effectively caught in a bear trap, he then had no way to escape as Masvidal poured on the offense until the referee was forced to intervene. The TKO occurred at the 4:05 mark of round one.
"That was weird," Ellenberger said of the stoppage post-fight.
With this strange win, Masvidal builds on the momentum of a recent decision defeat of Ross Pearson. He's now 31-11 overall. Ellenberger, meanwhile, returns to the loss column after a career-saving win over Matt Brown. He's now 31-12 overall.
Cannonier Edges Ion Cutelaba in Fun Fight
The third bout of the main card pitted 22-year-old Moldovan light heavyweight Ion Cutelaba with former heavyweight Jared "The Killa Gorilla" Cannonier. It was a wild fight.
Round one was all Cutelaba, who experienced great success with his takedowns and pushed the pace throughout. Round two, meanwhile, was extremely close, as Cutelaba's success continued, and Cannonier began to enjoy some success of his own on the feet. Round three, finally, was all Cannonier's, who blasted his foe with thudding strikes throughout.
The end result was a unanimous win for Cannonier, who is now on a two-fight streak. He's now 9-1 overall. Cutelaba, meanwhile, is now 12-3 overall.
McMann Taps Davis with Arm-Triangle Choke
The final women's bout of the evening pitted former title contenders Alexis Davis and Sara McMann against one another in a compelling bantamweight showdown.
From the moment the bout began, McMann's grappling edge was on full display, as she succeeded on 100% of her takedowns and eventually locked up an arm-triangle choke for the win in the second.
With the win, McMann builds on the momentum of a recent defeat of Jessica Eye. She's now 10-3 overall. Davis, meanwhile, comes up short in her first fight in more than a year. She's now 17-7 overall.
Moreno Scores Split Win Over Benoit
The first of this card's three flyweight bouts pitted Ryan Benoit, who looked to construct his first two-fight win-streak in the UFC, against Brandon Moreno, who looked to build on the momentum of a recent upset of the highly-regarded Louis Smolka.
After three rounds of action it was Moreno who succeeded on his mission with a split decision win, having out-landed his foe by a 78-25 margin, and succeeded on 5 of 13 takedown attempts.
With this win, the 22-year-old Moreno proves his defeat of Smolka was more than just a lucky night, and establishes himself as a definite fighter to watch at flyweight. Benoit, meanwhile, falls to 9-5 overall.
Hall Takes Decision from Sluggish Maynard
The final bout of the undercard saw former lightweight title challenger Gray Maynard look to build on the momentum of a sorely needed defeat of Fernando Bruno with a win over former TUF winner Ryan Hall. Unfortunately, he offered little in the way of offense throughout the bout, landing just 17 strikes over the course of three rounds. Hall, meanwhile, landed 53—a big enough disparity to earn him a clear unanimous decision win.
With the win, Hall improves to 2-0 in the UFC, and 6-1 overall. Maynard, meanwhile, is now a tough 5-1 in his last 6, and 12-6-1 overall.
Font Blasts Schnell with First-Round Knee
Originally, Massachusetts's Rob Font was expected to take on Alejandro Perez at the TUF 24 Finale. Less than two weeks out from fight night, however, Perez was forced to withdraw from the bout, and was replaced by beefed-up flyweight Matt Schnell.
Schnell's short notice debut did not go the way he planned. 3:47 into the first round, Font thrust a rocket-fuelled knee into the debutant's face, sending him careening to the canvas in a dazed heap. A few follow-up ground strikes later, and the fight was over.
With this abrupt TKO win, Font rebounds from a decision loss to top-ranked bantamweight John Lineker. He's now 13-2 overall. Schnell, meanwhile, is now 9-3 in sum.
Kim Swipes Unanimous Win from O'Reilly
The second bout of the televised prelims pitted the UFC's lesser known Dong Hyun Kim against Brendan O'Reilly a nice bit of lightweight matchmaking. Over the course of the 15-minute fight, Kim was able to amass nearly 10 minutes of control time—more than enough to earn himself a unanimous decision win.
With this win, Kim rebounded from a pair of emphatic knockout losses to Dominique Steele and Marco Polo Reyes. He's now 14-8-3 overall. O'Reilly, meanwhile, now owns an overall record of 6-3.
Moyle Out-grapples Curran to Unanimous Decision
The first bout of the Fox Sports prelims saw Kailin Curran welcome Jamie Moyle to the Octagon in an intriguing strawweight showdown. Though Curran was clearly the sharper striker throughout, she was ultimately foiled by Moyle's ceaseless takedown attempts, giving up a unanimous decision as a result.
In victory, Moyle makes a successful UFC debut and improves to 4-1 overall. Curran, on the other hand, stumbles to the .500 mark with a 4-4 overall record.
Smith Elbow Levels Mutapcic
The featured bout of the fight pass prelims pitted Elvis Mutapcic with Anthony Smith in a long-awaited middleweight showdown. Though Mutapcic handily won the first round with his takedowns and ground and pound, he had the tables turned on him in the second, when Smith found his range and ultimately turned him off with a slicing elbow across the temple.
With the win, Smith rebounds from a loss to Cezar "Mutante" Ferreira, and moves to 26-12 overall. Mutapcic, meanwhile, remains winless across his first 3 UFC bouts. He's now 15-5-1 overall.
Clark Nabs Decision Over Stansbury
The action began in the light heavyweight division, where Devin Clark relied on effective striking and takedowns to capture a unanimous decision from Josh Stansbury. With the win, Clark rebounds from the first loss of his career, and improves to 7-1 overall. Stansbury, meanwhile, is now 8-3 in sum.