UFC Vegas 27: Font stuns Garbrandt to advance into Championship contention
The Ultimate Fighting Championship has long been known for captivating audiences and evoking emotion in ways that other sports struggle to fashion. It was more of the same at UFC Fight Night 188.
Rob Font (19-4) defeated former champion Cody Garbrandt (12-4) to add to an increasingly impressive resume that should beckon the calls of the matchmakers when considering who should earn their shot at the Bantamweight crown.
Of course, divisional champion Aljamain Sterling (20-3) will likely have to rematch Petr Yan after becoming the first fighter in UFC history to win a belt via disqualification after the latter landed an illegal knee that Sterling failed to recover from.
Away from the main event, there was riveting action across the board as Carla Esparza advanced to 18-6 with a big victory over the surging talent Yan Xiaonan (13-2, 1 NC) whilst Jack Hermansson (22-6) defeated Edmen Shahbazyan (11-2) in the main event opener.
Font v Garbrandt
After scoring an astounding knockout victory against Raphael Assuncao to end a three-fight skid, many expected Garbrandt to turn a new page and attempt to reclaim the title and throw himself into contention after prevailing against Font.
This was not the case.
Font excelled in subduing Garbrandt, earning a dominating victory and implementing his game plan perfectly with a combination of crisp punches. The jab was particularly imposing and served as Font’s focal point in offence.
The scorecards closed with a unanimous verdict in Font’s favour: 48-47, 50-45 and 50-45, and this victory, coupled with a knockout win over former champion Marlon Moraes in his previous fight, leaves Font in good stead when staking his claim towards a shot for the belt.
For Garbrandt, it’s back to the drawing board after another detrimental defeat halted his progress. Still only 29, No Love has time on his side to forge a commendable career, but he will need to do his talking inside the Octagon as he attempts to overturn a run of four defeats in five fights since winning the belt undefeated.
Esparza v Yan
Esparza brilliantly defeated the enigmatic Yan, derailing the hype emphatically and scoring a TKO victory after exacting her will on the ground.
Yan was powerless to prevent Esparza from taking her to the ground and holding her there throughout the course of the first round. Cookie Monster took Yan to the ground within the opening seconds, with Yan struggling to muster any meaningful resistance.
The second round was a repeat of the first, albeit with more devastating consequences. Esparza grounded her opponent yet again and advanced to crucifix position and rain punches onto the hapless Yan’s face, warranting a quick stoppage from referee Keith Peterson.
The card in full
Rob Font def. Cody Garbrandt via unanimous decision (48-47, 50-45, 50-45)
Carla Esparza def. Yan Xiaonan via TKO (R2, 2:58)
Jared Vanderaa def. Justin Tafa via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Norma Dumont def. Felicia Spencer via split decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Ricardo Ramos def. Bill Algeo via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Jack Hermansson def. Edmen Shahbazyan via unanimous decision (29-27, 29-27, 29-27)
Ben Rothwell def. Chris Barnett via sub (guillotine) (R2, 2:07)
Court McGee def. Claudio Silva via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 29-27)
Bruno Silva def. Victor Rodriguez via KO (R1, 1:00)
Joshua Culibao def. Shayilan Nuerdanbieke via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29,28)
David Dvorak def. Juancamilo Ronderos via sub (RNC) (R1, 2:18)
Damir Ismagulov def. Rafael Alves via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)