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UFC on ESPN 1 Results and Highlights: Francis Ngannou scores an early finish in Phoenix

UFC on ESPN 1 Results and Highlights: Francis Ngannou scores an early finish in Phoenix

Francis Ngannou speaks to Megan Olivi backstage before UFC on ESPN 1

The UFC’s first-ever dedicated ESPN event has arrived.

The Body Lock is here to bring you live results and updates for all of the fights taking place at the Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona, United States.

The main event is a fascinating heavyweight matchup between hard-hitting Francis Ngannou and the returning former champion, Cain Velasquez.

The entire fight card is packed with brilliant fights and exciting fighters. Notably, Kron Gracie will be making his UFC debut on the main card.

Read on for results, commentary and highlights.

UFC on ESPN 1 Results

Main Card

  • Francis Ngannou def. Cain Velasquez by KO/TKO (punches) – R1, 0:26
  • Paul Felder def. James Vick via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27 x2)
  • Cynthia Calvillo def. Cortney Casey via unanimous decision (29-28 x2, 30-27)
  • Kron Gracie def. Alex Caceres via submission (rear-naked choke) – R1, 2:06
  • Vicente Luque def. Bryan Barberena by KO/TKO (knees and punches) – R3, 4:54
  • Andre Fili def. Myles Jury via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)

Prelims

  • Aljamain Sterling def. Jimmie Rivera via unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
  • Manny Bermudez def. Benito Lopez via guillotine choke – R1, 3:09
  • Andrea Lee def. Ashley Evans-Smith via unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
  • Nik Lentz def. Scott Holtzman via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
  • Luke Sanders def. Renan Barao via KO/TKO (strikes) – R2, 1:01
  • Emily Whitmire def. Alexandra Albu via Submission (rear-naked choke) – R1, 1:01

Francis Ngannou defeats Cain Velasquez with relative ease

Cain Velasquez came out swinging and looked to make it a feisty engagement from the get go. The forward pressure lead to some negative relay to Velasquez’s body and Francis Ngannou walks away with a swift first round TKO 26 seconds into round one.

Paul Felder gets gritty against James Vick

Paul Felder seems the quicker striker in the opening minutes with his crisp striking on display. James Vick does a great job of disrupting offense with his jab. Follow up for combinations has been sparse with these two fighters quickly realizing the ramifications of missing a strike. Felder maintaining control of this fight so far as he continues to find the first blow. He finds the spinning back fist yet again as he surely secures the round by putting Vick in a moment of danger.

Vick changing plans this round with an emphasis on clinch control as Felder came forward with strikes. He maintains a slight size advantage but struggles to out muscle his opponent to any meaningful end. Felder and Vick are going strike for strike as Vick starts to favor his straight right and Felder lands another back fist to rebuttal. A much closer round than the last, and heading into the third both fighters will need to keep the pace.

The chess match continues in round three and Felder seems to chip away advantages with his hooks in and out of engagements. Vick is frustrated with the array of offense and the lead calf kick from Felder is only making it harder to maintain any kind of counter pressure. Felder’s opponent is now visibly affected by the leg kicks. Vick still finds a moment to rush in and lay down punches to establish a clinch, albeit for a short time. Felder once again lands a heavy spinning elbow that lands flush and somehow Vick eats the strike with little complication.

Cynthia Calvillo def. Cortney Casey via UD

Cynthia Calvillo opens her account with a nice array of strikes against Cortney Casey. Although Casey received damage, she’s keeping forward pressure and countering the combinations with her own right hand. Calvillo does well to find her target first. Casey has settled into a counter-attack role but needs to strike with more urgency to gain that priority. A back-and-forth round but Calvillo may have slightly edged it with her output.

Calvillo once again remaining the more present fighter with her implementation of leg kick, jab and body punch combinations. Her footwork is doing well to negate the inherent reach advantage she lacks against Casey. Calvillo finds a strong right straight that leads her into a clinch position in hopes to take her opponent’s back. The cage defense from Casey is formidable and the action returns to standing in quick fashion. There is no lack of action in this bout as both Calvillo and Casey refuse to give any leeway to their opponent.

The leg kicks from Casey are starting to take their toll on Calvillo as her timing is being visually effected. In conjunction with her impaired movement, Calvillo continues to eat the right knee of Casey every time she engages. Casey is starting to find the blueprint to put away Calvillo and there’s still plenty of time on the clock. Although Calvillo can’t engage offense like the last few rounds, Casey can’t find her moment to release lethal punches due to Calvillo’s crafty movement.

Kron Gracie defeats Alex Caceres via rear-naked choke

As expected, Kron Gracie makes a scorching UFC debut with a swift demolition of Alex Caceres. Caceres came out of the gates swinging with some dangerous wheel kicks, but once the clinch game came into effect for Gracie, it was check mate. Kron Gracie finds the first round RNC at just 2:06 into the bout.

Vicente Luque defeats Bryan Barberena in an instant classic

Vicente Luque looking calm and poised in the opening minutes as he trades blows with Bryan Barberena. Luque cornered his opponent on the cage and starts finding the shots behind a thunderous jab-straight combo. Luque keeps on stacking the pressure but Barberena is undeterred by the striking. Barberena answers back with a flurry of strikes as Luque falls to his back. Luque somehow manages to slip out of the sprawl attempt and almost submits Barberena. The round ends and Phoenix can’t contain their happiness at the violence on display.

Barberena and Luque are trading offense with aplomb. He continues to layer on strikes as Luque is staying behind his defense to find a position to counter. Luque can’t continue eating shots at this rate as his output is being overshadowed by Barberena’s efforts. An absolute slobber knocker is on display with this fight as neither fighter is giving an inch. Luque might have secured the round with a massive knee to the chin that wobbled Barberena to the canvas.

The fact that both fighters have gotten to this point is a testament to their strength. Round Three was no different than the previous two as Luque and Barberena continue to duke it out. Every inch of the octagon is being contested for but Barberena seems to have an extra gear. He continues to throw shots with less intensity in order to keep Luque at bay. Luque fought till the very end and forced his way to a TKO victory by digging deep and breaking down the staunch chin of his opponent with a cracking knee.

Andre Fili defeats Myles Jury via UD

Andre Fili establishes control early with probing jabs. The first significant strike was landed by Fili as well as the range is being found behind that straight right hand. Myles Jury just seems tentative at this point, reacting to movements rather than creating instances of danger. Fili is remaining erratic with his strikes, picking his moments to land. Jury picks up the pace towards the end of the round as he lands a few jabs. Both fighters start throwing strikes more flagrantly as the trash talk starts to flow between Fili and Jury.

The quest for control of pace becomes the biggest point of contention in this fight. Jury continues to find his mark behind his quick jab, but Fili’s retort behind his straight right complicates plans. At this point, it can be anyone’s bout as both fighters refuse to give an inch and trade blow for blow. Initial strikes are landing, but the follow up isn’t there due to fear of over extending. Jury finally breaks the deadlock with a dangerous spinning backfist. He ends the round in top control and doesn’t finish the fight purely based on Fili’s toughness.

The gun slinging continues in round three with both fighters throwing with bad intentions behind the jab. Jury continues to invite danger and Fili is obliging with a slew of jabs that continue to find a home. Fili starts to turn up the pace in the final two minutes as the final round could be the decision maker for this fight. Even though both fighters are content with tapping, there is still much to be desired as neither can seem to land that vital KO blow. Jury may have had bright moments in the fight, but Fili’s volume may just put him ahead.

Aljamain Sterling defeats Jimmie Rivera via UD

Aljamain Sterling got off to a dominant start in this fight by stifling the movement of Jimmie Rivera with his grappling. After a few minutes on the cage, Sterling was broken up by the referee for a ‘lack of action’ but that was far from the case. The break up led to some tense exchanges on the feet but ultimately it was the control of the Funk Master that gave him overall control of the round.

Rivera opens his account early in the second round with a take down. Sterling quickly gets back to his feet and tries to engage his own take down not long after. He backs off the engage and found a monster spinning back fist that wobbled Rivera. Sterling continued the onslaught but Rivera weathered the storm adequately to stay in the fight. Rivera then clamped down on a sprawl to keep his energy with one minute left in the round. Sterling found another stifling elbow as Rivera settles for calf kicks in retaliation.

A more tentative third round on the side of Sterling as Rivera starts to dictate tempo. Rivera is looking for his way in but is kept at bay from the various kick attempts of his opponent. He’s biting down on his mouth piece and really unleashing to find a knockout blow. Sterling counters by using his range effectively to bully Rivera from finding that sweet spot.

Manny Bermudez submits Benito Lopez

Benito Lopez came out with aggression as he landed a swift leg kick to open his account. In retaliation, Manny Bermudez initiated the clinch and muscled his way to back control. As he almost locked in position for an RNC, Lopez leapt at the right moment to escape off the mat. Lopez now starts to lay on some knees in the clinch although his arms remain neutralized. Bermudez remains potent from all angles as he rolls over for an arm-trap guillotine and the ending of the fight was a matter of time. Another amazing sequence of BJJ from ‘The Bermudez Triangle’ with this first round submission victory yet again.

Andrea Lee def. Ashley Evans-Smith via UD

Wonderful first round from both fighters as Andrea Lee and Ashley Evans-Smith engage offense. Lee finds success doubling up on her jab and using her lead leg kick. Evans-Smith mixed up her kicking well finding a front kick right on the chin of her opponent. Lee seems to find her tempo well as her counter striking setups start to take shape. While Lee remained more active, Evans-Smith found effective shots with great right hooks and teep kicks to the body. Lee ends the round with a takedown attempt that’s stopped at the cage.

Lee continues to be the more effective striker constantly peppering shots against the defence of her opponent. The combinations are starting to pile up and Evans-Smith is getting overwhelmed on the fence. Evans-Smith finds a takedown at the halfway mark of the round. Lee eventually finds her way back to her feet, and the feints start to come out once again. Evans-Smith finds some good jabs to add some stock to her name in this round. Lee once again finds a sprawl and uses clinch control to land knees at the end of the round.

Evans-Smith came out the gate a lot more productive in the last round via her corners advice. She keeps finding success with her jab and right hook, but Lee isn’t taking her punches lying down. Lee knows there is still work to be done if she wants to secure victory. Evans-Smith secures a take down to finish the fight but it may be too little too late at this point.

Nik Lentz beats Scott Holtzman via UD

Nik Lentz opened round one with some crisp striking against Scott Holtzman. Lentz utilized his feints and quick jabs to open up some head kicks to counter. After establishing his rhythm with his stand up, Lentz finds a clinch attempt that eventually works its way to a trip. Holtzman did well to bounce right back up to his feet without much push back.

Round Two saw a much more proactive Holtzman as he found the chin of Lentz on multiple occasions. Even still, Lentz’s toughness weathered the storm as both fighters recuperate from earlier exertion. Lentz eventually sneaks his way into position to put a guillotine choke on his opponent from guard. Holtzman had a tough time maneuvering out of the choke, but breaks free from the choke with one minute left in the round. Although Holtzman had a fine burst to start the round, Lentz tempered expectations with his ground control.

Lentz starts the third round noticeably more tired than his opponent. Both fighters continue to trade blow for blow in the striking department. Lentz put together a few nice combinations that ended in a high kick. Holtzman finds the chin of his opponent but his conditioning is preventing him from following on the damage. In pure exasperation, Lentz ties up his opponent to break him down once again. Holtzman unleashes some vicious punches against the fence to force Lentz back to his feet. They once again throw leather to liven up the crowd and Lentz clamps down on another take down to secure the round in his eyes.

Luke Sanders finishes Renan Barao via KO/TKO

In a heated match up for both fighters, pressure soon made diamonds for Luke Sanders as he came away victorious against his opponent. After a contentious first round, Sanders’ corner gave specific instructions for him to find his timing and land a quick jab-straight combination. The advice was all that was needed to succeed as Sanders put away Renan Barao in just 1:01 into the second round.

Emily Whitmire submits Alexandra Albu

Emily Whitmire picked up the first stoppage victory of her career when she submitted Alexandra Albu at UFC on ESPN 1.

Whitmire immediately secured a takedown before moving to back mount. She locked in the body triangle before easily finding the rear-naked choke finish.

UFC on ESPN 1 Bonuses

Fight of the Night: Vicente Luque and Bryan Barberena each took home a $50k bonus for their involvement in what will undoubtedly rank among the best fights of the year.

Performances of the Night: Kron Gracie takes home $50k after his first-round submission of Alex Caceres. Luke Sanders smoked Renan Barao in round two, and that was more than enough for a $50k bonus from the UFC, as well.

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