PHOENIX ( Associated Press) – Lightweight Charles Oliveira hit two big punches off Justin Gaethje and knocked him out for a first-round win at UFC 274 on Saturday night.
Oliveira (33-6, 1 no-contest) had to vacate the title after missing the 155-pound limit by half a pound at Friday’s weigh-in, making Gaethje (24-4) the only fighter to take the championship. were. belt.
It may not have been a title fight, but it certainly had a lot of action, including two knockdowns and a takedown by Gaethje. The Arizona native allowed Oliveira to go up every now and then and freeze her opening round 3:22 when the jiu-jitsu expert slammed her to the ground and grabbed her back.
Carla Esparza (20–6) took the strawweight title eight years after losing in the co-main event, working patiently to defeat Rose Namajunas (12–5) in a split decision.
Gaethje, a fan from eastern Arizona, promised some “car accidents” to bring Oliveira back downstairs.
He dashed into Oliveira early and often, knocking the Brazilian down with punches twice in the first round, losing both times so he could punch. Gaethje added in a takedown and let Oliveira rise again.
Like he had done in the previous two matches after being staggered by Michael Chandler and Dustin Poirier, Oliveira counterattacked and attacked.
His face bled, Oliveira lowered Gaethje with a stern right hand and grabbed his back. Gaethje briefly looked like he would survive, but Oliveira put a hand under his chin and forced him to tap out with a behind-the-scenes choke hold.
Namajunas had to wait eight years for a rematch against Esparza, who defeated him in the UFC’s inaugural strawweight fight in 2014.
Esparza lost the title to Joanna Jedrzejic in her first defense and spent the next eight years working to return to the top, completing the rest of her attack to go with her elite wrestling.
Namanjunas defeated Jedrzejic to take the strawweight title in 2018, losing to Jessica Andrade, then defeating her in a rematch. “Thug Rose” defeated Zhang Weili to capture the title and win the rematch the previous November.
Aware of Esparza’s wrestling prowess, the Namajunas spent most of the night at some distance in the desert, sometimes ducking to throw punches before retreating. Namajunas slowed down a takedown attempt in the second round and made a quick escape in the third.
Esparza briefly knocked down Namajunas twice in the fourth round, but she was knocked out both times – the other on a quick flip reversal. Namajunas followed the same strategy for the fifth round and ended up with a takedown in the last second.
That was not enough. Esparza won two cards, Namajunas on the other.
After two opening main card bouts that often saw fans cheering, lightweight Michael Chandler (23–7) roared to the rafters in the second round by hitting Tony Ferguson (26–8) over the head with a front kick. Ferguson lay on the canvas for several minutes while he was being looked after by medical personnel before slowly rising to his stool.
Donald Cerrone was ruled out of his light match against Joe Logon after suffering from food poisoning. The fight in Austin, Texas has been rescheduled for next month.