Kevin Lee returns with impressive win over Edson Barboza

We hadn’t seen Kevin Lee fight inside the Octagon since he suffered defeat to Tony Ferguson for the UFC interim lightweight championship in October. In Edson Barboza, Lee had a tough test to welcome him back from inactivity.

Lee took a page out of lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov’s playbook, immediately looking to take the dangerous Brazilian Barboza down.

Barboza showed off his ridiculous toughness once again, enduring the seemingly endless rough punishment being dished out by his American counterpart. The second round started similarly, with Lee driving Barboza to the fence before working the double-leg takedown to hammer his opponent.

The third round looked to follow that path again, but Barboza had other ideas. As Lee began to trash talk the Brazilian inside the cage, Barboza dished out an almighty spinning wheelkick, turning Lee’s legs into rubber.

Somehow, Lee recovered. The Detroit fighter dove for the takedown, which Barboza initially stuffed, but Lee managed to work his way back to earning a dominant position to see off the third round.

Given how the previous round went, the fourth round started with a sense of intrigue. But ultimately, Lee managed to assert his dominance on the ground once again.

In the fifth stanza, Barboza successfully sprawled the early Lee takedown, but while fighting on the feet, a huge gash opened above his eye. As the pair disengaged from slinging punches at each other, the referee had the cageside doctors take a look at Barboza’s leaking cut.

Unfortunately for the Brazilian, the doctors deemed it right to call off the fight.

A fascinating contest and a big win for Lee as he seeks to secure his position as number one contender to Nurmagomedov’s championship.


Frankie Edgar bests Cub Swanson in rematch

It’s safe to say Frankie Edgar has been through an awful lot of late.

Following a devastating loss to Brian Ortega – his first stoppage defeat coming in a fight he took after yet another title shot disappeared from his grasp – Edgar has had to endure the tragic passing of both his father and grandfather in the weeks leading to his rematch against Cub Swanson.

Edgar’s career has been nothing short of inspiring and, given all he’s been through, his win on Saturday night adds to that lustre even more.

While Edgar threatened the takedown on occasion, the fight stayed upright throughout. Both Edgar and Swanson looked tentative and non-committal to striking exchanges for the most part.

Swanson constantly threatened with big punching combinations and some dangerous kicks, but Edgar was largely wise to these, slipping his opponent’s strikes and peppering him with jabs and straight punches.

It was an interesting, competitive fight, but it looked like Edgar dictated the majority of those three rounds. The judges agreed, awarding Edgar a Unanimous Decision to set up yet another future title shot for the New Jersey native.

Justin Willis comfortably wins decision over Chase Sherman

Justin Willis got the nod from the judges over Chase Sherman in their heavyweight clash on Saturday.

Willis got the better of Sherman in the striking exchanges and once on the ground. Though, the former looked to tire towards the end of the bout which left a window of opportunity open for Sherman to capitalise and turn the fight in his favour.

However, Willis’ early work was enough for him to earn the Unanimous Decision win.


David Branch rebounds from Luke Rockhold loss with big KO win

After enduring a tough, back-and-forth loss to Luke Rockhold, David Branch entered the Octagon with a chip on his shoulder on Saturday. But Branch passed his first test in the cage since September 2017 with flying colours.

That test was Brazilian knockout artist Thiago Santos, who is renowned for his kicking. Branch certainly felt those kicks – receiving a number of them thudding into his lead leg.

Seemingly unperturbed, Branch continued to march down Santos. When against the cage, Branch uncorked a massive overhand right to floor Santos.

The former World Series of Fighting middleweight champion quickly followed up his handywork with some hammerfists to put an end to the fight and secure a huge knockout win.

With that, Branch cemented his spot as a top-10 UFC middleweight in impressive fashion.

Aljamain Sterling has too much for a game Brett Johns, wins decision

Aljamain Sterling has long been touted as the future of the UFC bantamweight division and for good reason. On Saturday night, Sterling showed off his most polished performance in the Octagon yet, handing a game Brett Johns the first professional loss of his career.

On the feet, in the clinch and on the ground, Aljamain Sterling had just a little bit more than Johns in all areas.

Johns was certainly a tough test for Sterling, chasing a finish in the fight knowing a decision wouldn’t be his.

However, Sterling and his gameplan was far too competent to allow for a mistake and throw away a certain unanimous decision victory.

The New Yorker was deservedly awarded the decision win and he took the opportunity to call out former UFC champion Dominick Cruz. That would certainly be a fun fight.

Dan Hooker scores another knee KO, this time over Jim Miller

New Zealand’s Dan Hooker is on some trajectory.

After returning to the lightweight division in 2017 following a stint at featherweight, Hooker had knocked out Ross Pearson and submitted Marc Diakiese.

Next up for Hooker was a step up in competition found in lightweight stalwart Jim Miller, and Hooker passed this test with convincing ease.

The rangier Hooker looked to try and keep the distance, but was drawn into a firefight in close quarters. Miller caught a kick from Hooker, taking the fight down to the floor, but the Kiwi got back up to his feet quickly.

In the resulting clinch, Hooker traded Miller’s knee to the body for a knee to the head, before following up with a body kick. The pair disengage and Hooker launches a knee – just like the one he knocked out Pearson with – which similarly leaves Miller on the deck.

The referee quickly intervenes to call a stop the fight. Hooker earns the biggest win of his career and respectfully calls out Paul Felder, who was interviewing him in the cage, for his next fight.

After this, you’d be a fool not to keep an eye on “The Hangman” as he notches up 10 first-round finishes.


UFC Atlantic City: Barboza vs. Kevin Lee full results:

Catchweight bout: Kevin Lee defeats Edson Barboza by TKO (doctor’s stoppage) at 2:18 of round five.

Featherweight bout: Frankie Edgar defeats Cub Swanson by Unanimous Decision after three rounds.

Heavyweight bout: Justin Willis defeats Chase Sherman by Unanimous Decision after three rounds.

Middleweight bout: David Branch defeats Thiago Santos by KO (punches) at 2:30 of round one.

Bantamweight bout: Aljamain Sterling defeats Thiago Santos by Unanimous Decision after three rounds.

Lightweight bout: Dan Hooker defeats Jim Miller by KO (knees) at 3:00 of round one.

Welterweight bout: Ryan LaFlare defeats Alex Garcia by Unanimous Decision after three rounds.

Bantamweight bout: Ricky Simon defeats Merab Dvalishvili by TKO (referee stoppage) at 5:00 of round three.

Welterweight bout: Siyar Bahadurzada defeats Luan Chagas by KO (body kick and punch) at 2:40 of round two.

Light Heavyweight bout: Corey Anderson defeats Patrick Cummins by Unanimous Decision after three rounds.

Welterweight bout: Tony Martin defeats Keita Nakamura by Unanimous Decision after three rounds.