UFC Fight Night: Font vs Garbrandt took place May 23 live from the UFC Apex Arena in Las Vegas. AT the top of the card, rankers looking to mix up the titles in two divisions put on surprising and thrilling performances.
Bantamweight contenders #3 Rob Font and former champion #4 Cody Garbrandt delivered an action-packed main event. Font’s beautiful striking was on point throughout all five rounds, and while Garbrandt stayed in it with shoots and a late surge, Font won the well-deserved unanimous decision. Font said,
“This is huge. First main event, big opportunity and I think I passed it with flying colors. For right now I just want to get back home, spend some time with the family, friends and the team and just get back in the gym. After beating that guy there’s nothing but monsters coming for me."
In the Co-Main Event, #4 women’s strawweight Carla Esparza used her wrestling in perfect form against #3 Yan Xiaonan by taking her down and dominating her on the canvas, then getting the second-round TKO by ground and pound. Esparza said,
“I’m super happy with my performance. Everything that I’ve been through, the ups and downs in this division, I’ve been fighting for over eleven years… To fight my way to being the Invicta champ then going through TUF, winning that, being the champ, lose that in such a devastating manner, have a lot of highs and lows in this division and then to finally, almost seven years later, fight my way back to be in this position, it feels like a Cinderella story."
Filipino-Australian Josh Culibao secured his first UFC win with a unanimous decision over China’s UFC Academy graduate Shayilan Nuerdanbieke. While Shayilan’s wrestling looked to be impressive from the start, Culibao used a smart game plan to stay on the outside and pick him apart with punches and calf kicks. Culibao said,
“I’m feeling great. I would have liked to get the finish, but I feel like it was a pretty clinical performance. I feel like I’ve put in so much work during training and then just to be able to showcase out there that I’m able to go the distance, I can pick my shots and win these fights… It’s really nice to get that off my shoulders."
MAIN CARD ACTION
Heavyweight finishers Justin Tafa and Jared Vanderaa put on the expected powerful slugfest with strategy and technique making it a nail-biter. In the second round, Vanderaa came on strong with a massive flurry of kicks, punches and elbows. Surprisingly it went the distance, and Vanderaa deservedly took home the win.
Former women’s featherweight title challenger Felicia Spencer and short notice replacement Norma Dumont waged their battle on the feet until the final round, which saw Spencer work on the ground. The scorecards reflected Dumont’s edge in striking with a split decision victory.
A high-paced featherweight bout went the distance with Ricardo Ramos using his grappling against Bill Algeo’s striking. The well-rounded pair made it competitive, leaving the judges to score it in favor of Ramos’ takedowns.
In a crafty bout between middleweight rankers, #7 Jack Hermansson got back in the win column with a unanimous decision thanks to a dominant third round of ground and pound against #12 Edmen Shahbazyan.
Due to health issues, Damir Hadzovic was removed from the lightweight bout with Yancy Medeiros and the bout will be rescheduled at a later date.
UFC FIGHT NIGHT: FONT VS GARBRANDT
Fight of the Night:
Justin Tafa vs. Jared Vanderaa
Performances of the Night:
Rob Font defeated Cody Garbrandt via unanimous decision
Carla Esparza defeated Yan Xiaonan via TKO at 2:58 of round 2
Jared Vanderaa defeated Justin Tafa via unanimous decision
Norma Dumont defeated Felicia Spencer via split decision
Ricardo Ramos defeated Bill Algeo via unanimous decision
Jack Hermansson defeated Edmen Shahbazyan via unanimous decision
Ben Rothwell defeated Chris Barnett via submission at 2:07 of round 2
Court McGee defeated Claudio Silva via unanimous decision
Bruno Silva defeated Victor Rodriguez via TKO at 1:00 of round 1
Josh Culibao defeated Shayilan Nuerdanbieke via unanimous decision
David Dvorak defeated Juancamilo Ronderos via submission at 2:18 of round 1
Damir Ismagulov defeated Rafael Alves via unanimous decision