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UFC on ESPN: Ngannou versus Velasquez Recap
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UFC on ESPN: Ngannou versus Velasquez Recap

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UFC on ESPN: Ngannou versus Velasquez took place at the Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona on February 17, 2019.  In the main event, former two time UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez faced former title challenger Francis Ngannou. While Velasquez was the fan favorite in the Arena, it only took Ngannou 26 seconds to knock out the former champ.  He came out aggressive from the opening bell, landing an uppercut on Velasquez. It looked liked Velasquez's knee immediately gave out as he fell to the mat, where Ngannou landed two more punches before the referee stopped the fight.

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With this win, Ngannou's record improves to 16 wins and 3 losses, with 9 knockouts and 4 submissions.  After losing his first two fights in 2018 (to Stipe Miocic at UFC 220 on January 20, 2018, and to Derrick Lewis at UFC 226 on July 6, 2018), he has since rebounded with his November 24, 2018 win over Curtis Blaydes by TKO in 45 seconds in round one, and this recent win over Velasquez.  Cain's record falls to 14 wins and 3 losses, with this loss being only the second time he has been knocked out- the other knockout occurring during his first fight against Junior dos Santos on November 12, 2011.

Kron Gracie versus Alex Caceres

Kron Gracie, ADCC grappling champion and son of legend Rickson Gracie, made his UFC debut during this event.  This was the first time Kron has fought in more than two years, since his win over Japanese veteran Tatsuya Kawajiri at Rizin World Grand-Prix 2016 on December 31, 2016.  In his UFC debut against UFC veteran Alex "Bruce Leeroy" Caceres (14 wins and 12 losses), he was able to quickly clinch with Caceres, and drag him to the ground, where he was able to submit him via a rear-naked choke in 2:06 of the first round.  

Fight of the Night: Vicente Luque vs. Bryan Barberena

Vicente Luque (15-6-1 MMA, 8-2 UFC) and Bryan Barberena (14-6 MMA, 5-4 UFC) put on one of the most entertaining fights of the night.  The three round fight was an early UFC Fight of the Year candidate, as both fighter came out swinging with punches, elbows and knees as well as exciting ground and pound and near submissions.  Going into the thirst round, Barberena was up on the judges score cards, but Luque was able to win with a TKO from knees and punches with just six seconds left in the fight.

Missed Weights and Cancelled Bout

Before this event went underway on Sunday, it was met with some difficulties, as three of the fighters missed weight, and there was a last minute cancellation.  At the weigh ins, former UFC Bantamweight Champion Renan Barao, Manny Bermudez, and former Invicta Champion, Jessica Penne all missed weight. Barao weight in at 138 pounds (2 pounds over the bantamweight limit), and Bermudez weighed in at 140 pounds (4 pounds over).  Meanwhile, Penne weighed in at 118 pounds, which was 2 pounds over the strawweight limit. All three fights were still to be contested at a catchweight, with Barao and Penne fined 20% of their purse and Bermudez fined 30% of his purse- which would go to their opponents.  However, on the morning of the event, the fight between Jessica Penne and Jode Equibel was cancelled, as Penne pulled out due to severely spraining her ankle while warming up that morning of the event.

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Bonus Awards

Vincente Luque versus Bryan Barberena awarded both fighters an extra $50,000 in Fight of the Night Bonuses.  Additionally, Kron Gracie and Luke Sanders (in his Knockout defeat of former UFC champion Renan Barao in 1:01 of the second round), each earned the Performance of the Night bonus, each giving them an additional $50,000 as well.

UFC on ESPN: Ngannous vs. Velasquez Results:

Main Card

Francis Ngannou def. Cain Velasquez via KO (R1, 0:26)

Paul Felder def. James Vick via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)

Cynthia Calvillo def. Cortney Casey via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)

Kron Gracie def. Alex Caceres via submission (RNC) (R1, 2:06)

Vicente Luque def. Bryan Barberena via TKO (R3, 4:54)

Andre Fili def. Myles Jury via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Preliminary Card

Emily Whitmire def. Alexandra Albu via submission (RNC) (R1, 1:01)

Luke Sanders def. Renan Barao via TKO (R2, 1:01)

Nik Lentz def. Scott Holtzman via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Andrea Lee def. Ashlee Evans-Smith via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Manny Bermudez def. Benito Lopez via submission (D'Arce choke) (R1, 3:09)

Aljamain Sterling def. Jimmie Rivera via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

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