Ngannou scores another devastating knockout

It has been just over a year since up-and-coming phenom Francis Ngannou lost a five round decision to Stipe Miocic after earning a heavyweight title shot. But on Sunday night at UFC Fight Night in Phoenix, the first full card to air on ESPN television, Ngannou returned to form with a knockout over former two-time heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez just 26 seconds into the first round.

Strangely, Velasquez also headlined the first card to air on FOX for the UFC’s previous television deal and lost his heavyweight title to Junior dos Santos by knockout at 1:04 of the first round.

Some had written Ngannou off following two straight losses, the loss to Miocic followed by a three round decision loss to Derrick Lewis, one of the most uneventful fights in UFC history that led many to believe that Ngannou no longer possessed the same killer instinct.

Ngannou now re-enters the championship conversation as the UFC looks to determine who heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier will face in his next matchup.

Felder outclasses Vick

In the co-main event, Paul Felder returned to the lightweight division with style, showing his trademark durability in his unanimous decision victory over James Vick.

Felder will almost certainly be ranked when next week’s fighter rankings are released in the UFC’s most crowded division.

Following the win, Felder expressed interest in facing the winner of the upcoming main event of the UFC’s next ESPN card in Philadelphia between Justin Gaethje and Edson Barboza that takes place on March 30.

With the win, Felder improved to 8-4 in the UFC, while Vick fell to 9-3.

Kron furthers Gracie legacy

The last name Gracie is synonymous with mixed martial arts, but there has been a trend known as the “Gracie curse” in the UFC as not a single Gracie had scored a win in the octagon since Royce Gracie in December, 1994.

That changed on Sunday when UFC newcomer Kron Gracie made his debut and made easy work of veteran Alex Caceres with a first round rear naked choke.

Gracie improved to 5-0 after taking a more than two-year hiatus from mixed martial arts.

Gracie is the son of Rickson Gracie and grandson of Helio Gracie, two legends in the martial arts world.

Attendance and Bonuses

The UFC’s first full card on ESPN’s linear network took place at The Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona drew 14,269 for a gate of $1,409,447

The Fight of the Night bonus was a no-brainer as Vicente Luque and Bryan Barbarena delivered an early candidate for fight of the year in a back-and-forth striking battle that Luque ultimately won in the dying seconds of the fight. 

Performance of the Night bonuses were awarded to Gracie for his first round submission win over Alex Caceres and Luke Sanders for his second-round knockout of former bantamweight champion Renan Barao.

All four athletes earned an additional $50,000 (USD).

UFC 236 remains a mystery

Despite being less than two months away, very little is known at this time regarding the UFC’s April pay-per-view UFC 236.

No location or bouts have been officially announced by the promotion.

The Mac Life’s Oscar Willis relayed a conversation that he had with Al Iaquinta that suggested that he would headline the card against Dustin Poirier, presumably for the interim lightweight championship, however that is unconfirmed at this time.

This is not common practice when it comes to upcoming events, especially with the locations for UFC 237 and UFC 238 being previously announced.

Recently, women’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko expressed interest in defending her title at UFC 236, although her likely next challenger Jessica Eye was hoping the contest would take place at UFC 238 this June in Chicago.