The UFC brought one of the biggest MMA events of the year to Anaheim on Saturday, hosting one of the biggest heavyweight championship battles in recent history when Daniel Cormier took on the man he originally knocked out to win the championship, Stipe Miocic. The bout between arguably the UFC’s two greatest heavyweights of all time played out quite a bit differently this time though, with the two engaging in a 17-minute slugfest before Miocic finally hurt Cormier with some punches to the body and finished him in the fourth round.
As for the one OC-based fighter on the card, Sabina Mazo showed why she’s largely regarded as one of the top prospects in the flyweight division with her 15-minute dismantling of Shana Dobson to kick things off. The Colombian Queen opened the fight by hurting Dobson with a kick to the body and proceeded to land takedowns at will while also feeding her opponent a steady diet of knees both to the face and body. It was Mazo’s first win in the UFC, bringing her record to 7-1.
In other preliminary action, Kyung Ho Kang and Hannah Cifers won underwhelming decisions against Brandon Davis and Jodie Esquibel, while Casey Kenney proved that Manny Bermudez wasn’t unbeatable on the ground and grappled his way to a decision victory of his own.
Hawthorne’s Christos Giagos dropped a close fight against Drakkar Klose, but won a lot of fans in the process with an insane Fight of the Night performance. Both fighters looked like they were near finishing the other at points throughout the bout, and they each certainly gained plenty of attention from fans and media.
Cory Sandhagen announced himself as a legitimate threat in the bantamweight division by taking out perennial contender Raphael Assunção with crisp striking and plenty of unique groundwork while massive underdog Khama Worthy provided the first finish of the night by knocking out his friend Devonte Smith in just over four minutes—followed by a very excited Worthy jumping out of the Octagon and earning himself one of the $50,000 Performance of the Night bonuses.
On the main card, veteran middleweight Derek Brunson showed he could still beat top-tier competition by taking a unanimous decision over Ian Heinisch. The back and forth bout came with a fair share of distractions, as it originally appeared that famously bearded referee Mike Beltran may have significantly shortened his legendary facial hair—only to later confirm that it was merely tucked into his shirt. Later on in the match, Trump-loving UFC Welterweight Interim Champion Colby Covington entered the arena wearing a MAGA hat to ensure the crowd would boo and chant “Colby Sucks” and “Fuck You Colby” instead of actually watching the last portion of the fight at hand.
“Super” Sodiq Yusuff continued his ascent through the featherweight division by knocking out Gabriel Benitez before beefy middleweights Paolo Costa and Yoel Romero put on one of the most ridiculous and visually stunning fights of the year. The two bodybuilder-esque fighters brawled, taunted and flexed for a solid 15 minutes in their Fight of the Night, with Costa squeaking out a close decision in front of one of his heroes (and the basis of his nickname of “The Eraser”), Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Before the heavyweights took the spotlight, fan-favorite Nate Diaz returned from a 3-year layoff to defend his self-proclaimed “Baddest Motherfucker” belt against Anthony Pettis at welterweight. Although unlikely to win a sanctioned UFC championship anytime soon, Diaz showed why he’s the people’s champion by nearly finishing Pettis on multiple occasions and generally dominating with his usual overwhelming quantity of relentless attacks. Following the victory, the Stockton bad boy provided a plethora of unforgettable quotes in his various post-fight interviews and press conferences.