UFC 278 on Saturday night was good, right? The welterweight headliner ended in stunning fashion, and the middleweight co-headliner turned out to be a surprisingly entertaining slugfest.
The preliminary portion of the card began with Victor Altamirano bludgeoning Daniel da Silva with punches and elbows for a first-round TKO. ‘El Magnifico’ faced some early adversity after being dropped by a straight right but turned the tide with a knee to the body and follow-up on the ground. Aoriqileng got his second UFC win with a unanimous decision over Jay Perrin. The ‘Mongolian Murderer’ hurt ‘The Joker’ several times, but Perrin was not going away whatsoever. The final seconds of the fight were wild, as Perrin lit up Aoriqileng until the horn sounded. That was fun! Amir Albazi returned after a year away and submitted Francisco Figueiredo with a rear-naked choke. The ‘Prince’ improved to 3-0 in the promotion and told UFC color commentator Joe Rogan he would be interested in fighting at UFC 280, the upcoming pay-per-view event scheduled for Oct. 22 in Abu Dhabi. Ange Loosa gave AJ Fletcher his second straight loss, but it was not easy! The ‘Last Ninja’ survived an onslaught from the ‘Ghost,’ who ultimately tired himself out going for the finish. Loosa spent the third round controlling Fletcher, which was more than enough to get the nod on the judges’ scorecards. Sean Woodson vs. Luis Saldaña ended in a split draw. Saldaña was on his way to a first-round finish, but his fight IQ went out of the Octagon after he knocked Woodson down twice. Instead of delivering some good ol’ fashioned follow-up punches, Saldaña hit Woodson with an illegal knee and was deducted a point. The fight continued, and Woodson nearly scored his own finish with a buggy choke (!) but ran out of time. That was…something. Jared Gordon returned to the win column with a unanimous decision over Leonardo Santos. Marcin Tybura upset Alexander Romanov and defeated the undefeated up-and-comer by majority decision.
The main portion of the card saw Tyson Pedro tear through Harry Hunsucker to notch a 65-second TKO! A straight jab wobbled Hunsucker and Pedro finished the fight with a nasty kick to the body. Now 2-0 after a three-year hiatus, the Australian continues to show himself as a force to be reckoned with in the light heavyweight division. Lucie Pudilová punished Wu Yanan with elbows on the ground for a second-round TKO, her first win since re-joining the UFC earlier this year. Merab Dvalishvili earned a unanimous decision over José Aldo in what is surely the biggest win of his professional career thus far. Once again, the ‘Machine’ outworked his opponent with activity and his relentless pursuit of takedowns en route to a win. Paulo Costa bested Luke Rockhold in one of the most bizarre yet entertaining fights of the year. From Costa hitting Rockhold in the groin with an uppercut to Rockhold smearing his blood on Costa, there was a lot going on here! In the immediate aftermath, Costa celebrated the win and completed his current contract with the UFC, while Rockhold announced his retirement from the sport. The former Strikeforce and UFC middleweight champion leaves with an overall record of 16-6.
Leon Edwards was mere seconds away from losing to Kamaru Usman when he slept the champion with a brutal head kick in the fifth round. WOW! ‘Rocky’ found success early in the fight, becoming the first fighter to score a takedown on the ‘Nigerian Nightmare’. Usman responded well, and controlled Edwards throughout the second and fourth rounds. Though he appeared to be on his way to a unanimous decision loss, Edwards took the judges out of the equation with a ‘Comeback of the Year’ contender. And New!
Performance of the Night: Leon Edwards and Victor Altamirano
Victor Altamirano def. Daniel Da Silva by TKO (punches) at 3:39 of Round 1
Amir Albazi def. Francisco Figueiredo by submission (rear-naked choke) at 4:34 of Round 1
Tyson Pedro def. Harry Hunsucker by TKO (strikes) at 1:05 of Round 1
Lucie Pudilova def. Wu Yanan by TKO (elbows) at 4:04 of Round 2
Leon Edwards def. Kamaru Usman by KO (head kick) at 4:04 of Round 5
Fight of the Night: Paulo Costa vs. Luke Rockhold
Aoriqileng def. Jay Perrin by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
Ange Loosa def. AJ Fletcher by unanimous decision (29-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Sean Woodson vs. Luis Saldana ends in a split draw (29-27, 27-29, 28-28)
Jared Gordon def. Leonardo Santos by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
Marcin Tybura def. Alexander Romanov by majority decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-28)
Merab Dvalishvili def. José Aldo by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Paulo Costa def. Luke Rockhold by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)