The octagon sat proudly inside the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in New York for the first time in promotional history, with a fair share of New Yorkers on the card which lay in the midst of UFC 214.
Chris Weidman was victorious in the main event, defeating Kelvin Gastelum by submission in the third round, whilst Darren Elkins outpointed Dennis Bermudez to make it five consecutive wins in the featherweight division.
Over eleven thousand people filled the arena, generating a live gate just shy of $1.1 million. What else did we learn?
Jimmie Rivera is in the mix at 135lbs
After picking this out as one of the fights to watch, Jimmie Rivera and Thomas Almeida obliged and competed in a great bantamweight brawl. Both men had only lost once before tonight, with Rivera’s coming nineteen fights ago and Almeida’s to current champion Cody Garbrandt.
Rivera knocked Almeida down twice inside the first round, possibly earning him a 10-8 round in the eyes of the judges, before Almeida returned the favour by startling Rivera in the second.
Rivera edged the third round with a couple of takedowns leaving the judges unanimously awarding the fight to the American. Rivera has now won twenty consecutive bouts and surely fights a big name in the bantamweight division next. Dominick Cruz is the first to come to my mind.
Knockout power well and truly on show
There was a number of beautiful knockouts on display from New York, with three perfectly timed strikes on show.
First up was debutant Junior Albini, making his octagon debut in the heavyweight division and wasting no time in dispatching Timothy Johnson with a stunning combination, earning him a $50,000 bonus for performance of the night.
Alex Oliveira followed suit, also earning the bountiful bonus by landing a perfectly timed uppercut to local boy Ryan LaFlare.
The All-American is back!
The former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman, was on a path of destruction just two years ago, defeating the great Anderson Silva twice, before defeating two other Brazilians in Vitor Belfort and Lyoto Machida. There was talk of him having the skills to become the best middleweight of all time.
Until one night at UFC 194, when the All-American lost his middleweight crown to Luke Rockhold. Eleven months out followed before returning to fight at Madison Square Garden, a dream for any New Yorker, but Yoel Romero stole the show with a stunning flying knee in the third round.
Then a controversial defeat to Gegard Mousasi followed, with Weidman staring down the barrel of a four-fight losing streak. The American made sure it wasn’t happening by outwrestling Kelvin Gastelum before submitting him in the third round.
He didn’t have it all his own way however, with Gastelum knocking Weidman down at the end of the first round and coming close to finishing the fight. Weidman did well to recover in between rounds and came back to dominate the second round, landing three takedowns and only allowing three strikes to be thrown by Gastelum.
The third round made it seven takedowns in the fight for Weidman, with Gastelum struggling to defend against one of the best wrestlers in the UFC. When the opportunity presented itself to find the submission, Weidman took it after previously failing to secure a kimura in the first round.
The two time NCAA Division I All-American made sure he wasn’t letting the arm triangle choke go, and after a strong effort by Kelvin Gastelum, he was forced to give in and hand Weidman the victory.
Chris Weidman is back and will be targeting a fight against the elite middleweights in the octagon!