Dos Anjos spoils Lee’s welterweight debut
After an unsuccessful title run in the lightweight division, Kevin Lee had big plans to re-establish himself as a contender up a weight class at welterweight, but faced with a former lightweight champion in Rafael dos Anjos, Lee’s welterweight debut did not go as planned in the main event of the UFC’s first-ever card in Rochester, New York this past weekend.
After three close rounds, Lee began to tire in the fourth and after putting all of his energy into a big takedown attempt that was stifled by dos Anjos, a scramble ensued that dos Anjos was able to take advantage of that led to a rear naked choke victory for dos Anjos.
The third ranked dos Anjos improved to 4-2 in his welterweight tenure with his only losses coming to champion Kamaru Usman and second ranked former interim champion Colby Covington, both of whom dos Anjos would like another shot against.
“I’d like to fight Colby again, even Usman, I had five rounds of war with both of them and right now I’m ranked number three in the division,” dos Anjos told TSN following the victory. “My goal is to be a two-division champion.”
With the loss, the 26-year-old Lee is now 1-3 in his last four outings.
Canadian Spencer establishes herself as title contender
Since the retirement of Georges St-Pierre, many questions have been asked about whether there is a Canadian in the UFC who could potentially rise to be a future title challenger. That question may have been answered when former Invicta FC women’s featherweight champion Felicia Spencer defeated another former Invicta champion, Megan Anderson.
With women’s featherweight having the least depth of any division in the UFC, all it takes is one win to become a title contender and Spencer was able to make short work of Anderson using her superior grappling, which led to a first-round submission victory in her promotional debut.
Following the win, Spencer embraced the idea of a bout with former UFC women’s featherweight champion Cris Cyborg.
“I want to be the face of the featherweight division,” Spencer told TSN. “I’m definitely open to anything that the UFC wants to offer, we definitely have to sit down and talk about different details.”
Cyborg responded on Twitter that she was open to facing Spencer at UFC 240 in Edmonton this July, which is a scenario that would make sense given Spencer’s Canadian heritage.
Jourdain falls short in debut
Charles Jourdain, a former two-division champion in the prominent Canadian promotion TKO, made his UFC debut under difficult circumstances, fighting up a division at lightweight on three weeks’ notice against Desmond Green, the only fighter from Rochester competing on the card.
As a heavy hometown favourite, Green was able to earn a unanimous decision victory against the smaller Jourdain, but not without the Canadian prospect putting up a serious fight. Jourdain moved forward for all three rounds and unleashed vicious leg kicks against Green whenever possible.
Despite falling short, Jourdain was happy to be part of the most prominent promotion in mixed martial arts.
“It’s the biggest organization in the world, the biggest pay cheque, the best way to live from your sport, so anybody, anytime, anywhere,” Jourdain told TSN following his loss.
While this particular bout was at lightweight, Jourdain made it clear that his future in the UFC will be at featherweight.
“I’m grateful for the experience, three weeks’ notice, 23-years-old, I know some people are going to say that the hype train has been derailed, but I came here for the 145 belt, not 155,” said Jourdain.
Attendance and bonuses
UFC Fight Night at the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, New York drew 8,132 attendees for a gate of $643,840.50.
The fight of the night bonus went to Aspen Ladd and Sijara Eubanks for their spirited three-round bout that yielded a unanimous decision victory for Ladd.
Performance of the night bonuses were awarded to Grant Dawson for his win over undefeated Ultimate Fighter winner Mike Trizano and to Michel Pereira, who had one of the most memorable debuts in UFC history, flummoxing his opponent Danny Roberts with many unorthodox techniques.
Ladd, Eubanks, Dawson and Pereira each earned an additional $50,000.
Evans to be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame
Former UFC light heavyweight champion “Suga” Rashad Evans will be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame this summer.
The announcement was made with Evans in attendance in Rochester where the upstate New York native was working on ESPN’s broadcast.
Evans shed tears when the announcement was made as he shared the moment with UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman, who was seated next to him at the event. Evans played a huge role in Usman’s success, acting as a mentor for Usman throughout his career.
Evans was the winner of the second season of The Ultimate Fighter and went on to become the light heavyweight champion when he defeated Forrest Griffin at UFC 92 via third round TKO.
He will join Michael Bisping and Rich Franklin who were previously announced as inductees in this year’s class.