Ultimate Fighting Championship on Saturday brought a pair of title bouts to the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, as Israel Adesanya put his middleweight crown on the line against Yoel Romero and Weili Zhang risked her women’s strawweight belt against Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 248. While there were several memorable performances, five stood out.
Photo: Harry How (Getty Images)
Follow on Mandatory Facebook , Twitter , and Instagram .
5. Rodolfo Vieira
The four-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion withstood severe damage to his left eye, stayed calm under duress and submitted Saparbek Safarov with an arm-triangle choke in the first round of their undercard scrap at 185 pounds. Safarov conceded defeat 2:58 into Round 1. After eating a front kick to the face that threatened to swell his eye shut, the unbeaten Vieira executed a double-leg takedown, advanced to the back and applied his ground-and-pound before moving to full mount. From there, the chiseled 30-year-old Brazilian framed the choke and prompted the tapout. Vieira has finished all seven of his opponents, five of them inside one round.
Photo: Louis Grasse/PX Images/Icon Sportswire (Getty Images)
4. Beneil Dariush
The suddenly-on-fire Dariush recorded his fourth consecutive victory with a spectacular one-punch knockout of Drakkar Klose in the second round of their lightweight feature. Klose met his end 60 seconds into Round 2. Dariush controlled the first five minutes with superior grappling, as he climbed to the back, secured his position with a standing body triangle and hunted rear-naked chokes. A firefight broke out at the start of the second round, where both men were staggered by power punches. Dariush pushed Klose backward and uncorked a hellacious left hook that froze the MMA Lab rep and brought their encounter to a sudden and dramatic close.
Photo: Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC (Getty Images)
3. Neil Magny
Magny dazzled in his return from a 16-month layoff, as he mauled Jingliang Li in a three-round rout and cruised to a lopsided unanimous decision in their welterweight showcase. All three cageside judges scored it the same: 30-27 for Magny, who improved to 15-6 under the UFC flag.
The Ultimate Fighter season 16 semifinalist executed takedowns in all three rounds and wrecked Li in the clinch, where he utilized knee strikes to the body and head, short punches and shoulder strikes. The defeat snapped the China Top Team standout’s three-fight winning streak and put Magny back on the map at 170 pounds. Photo: Harry How (Getty Images)
2. Sean O’Malley
The talented and charismatic O’Malley made up for lost time. In his first appearance in more than two years, the undefeated MMA Lab prospect cut down Jose Alberto Quinonez with punches in the first round of their featured bantamweight prelim. Quinonez succumbed to blows 2:02 into Round 1. O’Malley, 11-0, stung
The Ultimate Fighter Latin America finalist with a right hook, followed with a head kick and sent Quinonez to the canvas with a short right uppercut before a volley of hammerfists sealed the deal. Photo: Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC (Getty Images)
1. Weili Zhang
Zhang retained the undisputed women’s strawweight championship in the five-round co-main event, as she outlasted Jedrzejczyk in an immediate contender for “Fight of the Year.” After champion and challenger brought remarkable savagery and skill to their epic 25-minute battle, Zhang emerged with a split decision—48-47, 47-48, 48-47—and walked away with her 21st straight win. The two women combined to land 366 total strikes, 351 of which were deemed significant. Jedrzejczyk exited the cage with a massive hematoma that stretched from one side of her forehead to the other, the damage the result of multiple blows from the heavy-handed Zhang.
Photo: Harry How (Getty Images)