Heading into Saturday night’s UFC Fight Night: Woodley vs. Burns, a.k.a., #UFCVegas and UFC on ESPN 9, each of the three previous UFC events dating back to the promotion’s May 9 return had five stoppages apiece.
Saturday’s event saw the most stoppages in a UFC event since its return on May 9 in the new UFC 249.
All told, six fights during UFC on ESPN 9 from the UFC Apex in Las Vegas resulted in stoppages, including the first four consecutive undercard fights to begin the show.
Stoppage rate since May 9:
Since the UFC returned to live action the night before Mother’s Day in the new UFC 249, 21 of the 43 contests between Jacksonville at Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena and Las Vegas at the UFC Apex have resulted in stoppages, accounting for a 48.8 percent stoppage rate.
Not bad for four UFC shows without live audiences present due to safety concerns necessitated by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
New safety protocol:
In the days leading up to Saturday night’s card, the UFC made some alterations to the existing safety protocol in place for the earlier Jacksonville shows.
Swab and antibody tests were mandated, as had been the case in Jacksonville, with the UFC closing its Performance Institute in the run-up to the event, as well as the requirement that the fighters were to stay in their hotel until they were permitted to leave for the event.
Luckily, there were no positive COVID-19 tests leading up to UFC on ESPN 9.
Another change was to how the post-fight interviews were handled.
Daniel Cormier, who was calling this weekend’s UFC Fight Night for ESPN and ESPN+, conducted the interviews with victorious fighters from his place at the commentary table, with the winners being stationed backstage.
The fights themselves:
As previously stated, the first four fights in succession ended in a stoppage victory.
Chris Gutierrez vs. Vince Morales:
Gutierrez (15-3) began the evening by scoring repeatedly with leg kicks and punches, holding serve over the first round.
In the break between rounds one and two, the fight doctor examined a cut on Morales’ eye—but the contest continued, albeit not for long.
Gutierrez continued to strike with leg kicks to Morales (9-5), who went down in a heap, prompting referee Jason Herzog to intervene and call the fight in the former’s favor.
Casey Kenney vs. Louis Smolka:
This was a short one.
Casey Kenney, much like Chris Gutierrez in the first contest, began with a leg kick to Smolka.
Upon absorbing more leg kicks, Smolka (16-7) attempted a takedown against Kenney (14-2), who then secured a one-arm guillotine choke, and it wasn’t long before he nabbed the submission victory.
Brandon Royval vs. Tim Elliott:
After dropping the first round, Royval (11-4), the former LFA Flyweight champion, was able to take hold of an arm triangle choke upon some miscues from Elliott (15-11-1), who was forced to tap in round two.
Jamahal Hill vs. Klidson Abreu:
This was another short one, folks.
Hill (8-0) scored quickly with a combo of shots and that was all he needed to seize momentum from Abreu (15-5).
In just a minute and 51 seconds, Hill ended the contest with a TKO.
Daniel Rodriguez vs. Gabe Green:
Our first decision of the night came in the penultimate prelim.
Let’s give credit to Gabe Green (9-3) for accepting this fight on short notice.
He took this contest vs. Daniel Rodriguez (12-1) last Tuesday for a Saturday fight night.
Although he gave a gallant effort, landing 127 strikes over the 15 minutes, Rodriguez, who landed 175 strikes and one takedown, proved to be the better man in this contest,
The judges saw it for Rodriguez, who won by unanimous decision (30-27 on all three scorecards.)
Kaitlyn Chookagian vs. Antonina Shevchenko:
In short, this was a most dominant effort for Chookagian (14-3) who did everything but score the knockout in this fight, which could have been over at any time during the 15 minutes.
Chookagian landed exactly 200 strikes in the fight, compared to just 37 for Shevchenko (8-2) in three rounds of action.
All three scorecards came back 30-25 for the victorious Kaitlyn Chookagian.
MacKenzie Dern vs. Hannah Cifers:
The main card began as the undercard did, with a stoppage.
MacKenzie Dern (8-1) made history in this one, scoring the first-ever kneebar submission in any women’s division in the first round vs. Hannah Cifers (10-5) after securing a leg lock earlier in the round.
Not much more has to be said here.
Roosevelt Roberts vs. Brok Weaver:
After taking the first round, Roberts (10-1) landed some ground and pound strikes before transitioning to a rear-naked choke, submitting Weaver (15-5) in the process in round two,
Billy Quarantillo vs. Spike Carlyle:
Despite Carlyle (9-2) besting Quarantillo (14-2) in takedowns (3-2), Quarantillo held serve in total strikes (110-64) and significant strikes (49-37), giving him the win by the scorecards (29-28 across the board.)
Blagoy Ivanov vs. Augusto Sakai:
The co-main event of UFC on ESPN 9 on Saturday night saw the only split decision of the card.
Sakai (15-1) bested Ivanov (18-4) in strikes landed (89-71) and significant strikes landed (78-66) in the fight, winning the fight by a 29-28 margin on two scorecards, with the third card in favor of Ivanov.
Gilbert Burns vs. Tyron Woodley:
All you really need to know about the UFC on ESPN 9 main event between Gilbert Burns (19-3) and Tyron Woodley (19-5) is the statistical advantage Burns had in the fight.
Burns landed 156 strikes to Woodley’s 65.
After 25 minutes, Burns won it by unanimous decision (50-45 [twice], 50-44,) securing the UFC’s $50,000 Performance of the Night bonus in the process.
UFC on ESPN 9 was an entertaining night on Saturday.
Here’s hoping you enjoyed it as much as I did.