First up are the two dynamic flyweights, Brandon Moreno and Davidson Figueiredo, who faced off in their third fight in a two-year span. The fight kicked off with both fighters evenly matched — Moreno for speed and Figueiredo for power. The Brazilian, Figueiredo, looked much healthier going into this fight after a much easier weight cut for him. Unlike their last bout in which Moreno dominated right off the bat, establishing his striking behind a sharp jab and winning by submission against a very weight cut weakened Figueiredo, this fight started off in favor of the Brazilian who set the range with sharp leg kicks and punches that set the tone for the rest of the fight. Moreno looked quick despite absorbing an astounding amount of damage to his lead leg, but his speed was unable to phase Figueiredo who stayed standing despite many punches landing clean on his chin. Moreno landed the most strikes over five rounds by a small margin, but the striking output put on by the Mexican champion was not enough to put down the Brazilian. Figueiredo responded in kind with power punches that locked on to the jaw of Moreno, allowing the Brazilian to score a few knock downs that favored him on the scoreboards. Takedowns were not sufficient for Moreno who was unable to keep Figueiredo on the ground for any substantial amount of control time. The last 20 seconds turned into a mutually agreed slugfest that saw the two just swing away as the two looked to put the other away despite thinking themselves to be up on the score cards. If the whole fight had gone like the last 20 seconds, I would be more entertained despite the likelihood of the fight lasting probably two minutes. Nonetheless, the fight went to the judges who ruled a quite fair unanimous decision victory for Davidson Figueiredo through the onslaught of boos from the California crowd that massively favored Moreno. The close fight drew talk of a fourth fight between the two which would be unprecedented in the UFC, especially for the title. The top of the flyweight division now has much to think about with knowing how closely matched the champion and top contender are.
Next came the fight everyone was waiting for. The two baddest heavyweights on the planet came to play, with Francis Ngannou putting his heavyweight title on the line. Expectations were that Ngannou would dominate with the fearsome power in his fists granite durability and that Gane, in order to win, would have to pick him apart with flawless technique while avoiding looping power shots that could knock out a rhino. The fight opened with Ciryl Gane expertly managing distance as many predicted but not landing anything substantial on Ngannou. To be fair, landing anything substantial on a man who can eat a spinning elbow like a saltine would be difficult. The fight turned in the second round when Ngannou took advantage of a missed front kick by Gane and lifted the Frenchman up in the air and slammed him into the canvas, dominating top position as any 250-plus pound man would. Ngannou was visibly gassed out in every round past the second but was always a threat to Gane who did not take him likely. Ngannou found a lot of success in his takedown ability, whether from his own set ups or from Gane’s mistakes. The fight could have gone either way going into the last round. Gane’s striking between his minutes spent on the ground was enough to keep the fight competitive. The fifth round was even until Ngannou got yet another takedown. Gane reversed the position, giving way to a potential ability to get back on to his feet or land damaging ground strikes, but Gane opted to go for a leg lock instead. The leg lock attempt was unsuccessful, as Ngannou looked unfazed, getting the top position shortly after and finishing the fight in a dominant fashion. The fight went to the judges who ruled in favor of the Cameroonian champion, giving him his first title defense after winning the title just last year. The reigning champ has a lot of potential for future title defenses against others in the division, but the buildup of former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones moving up to heavyweight might be the fight to make for Ngannou. The challenger, Gane, still has a very bright future in the division, having made a quite successful title run while only having begun MMA training in 2018. The top of the heavyweight division seems set for the next year ot two with big fights and massive talent.