Fight Facts: UFC on ESPN 9

By: Jay Pettry
Jun 1, 2020

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Fight Facts is a breakdown of all the interesting information and Octagon oddities on every card, with some puns, references and portmanteaus to keep things fun. These deep stat dives delve into the numbers, providing historical context and telling the stories behind those numbers.

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The Ultimate Fighting Championship on Saturday in Las Vegas kicked off a series of five events in emphatic fashion with UFC on ESPN 9. The card featured the first leg-based submission for any female fighter in the promotion’s history, an unusual trend for recent headlining underdogs and the rare occurrence of a fighter facing siblings in back-to-back appearances.

HOME IS WHERE THE FIGHTS ARE: UFC on ESPN 9 is the first event in the organization’s history to be held at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. The promotion has put on 125 cards in the “Fight Capital of the World,” accounting for just under a quarter of all UFC shows ever run.

NO ONE THERE TO BOO YOU: Five UFC events so far have taken place in empty arenas, and all five have been topped by a betting underdog taking home a win. Gilbert Burns (+160) dominated Tyron Woodley (-185) to spring the upset in the UFC on ESPN 9 headliner.

SPORTSBOOKS HATE ’EM: Following Burns’ upset of Woodley, each of the last five victorious fighters in the main event have been underdogs. This is the longest stretch of events where main event underdogs won since a span of six cards, from January 2018 at UFC Fight Night 124 (Jeremy Stephens over Doo Ho Choi) to February 2018 at UFC Fight Night 126 (Donald Cerrone over Yancy Medeiros).

A 25-MINUTE PERFORMANCE PIECE: Burns took home an additional $50,000 “Performance of the Night” bonus for his victory over Woodley. In doing so, he became the ninth fighter in company history to earn POTN after winning a decision and the second welterweight to do so. Kamaru Usman was the first after he handled Rafael dos Anjos at “The Ultimate Fighter 28” Finale in 2018.

BAGA O’RILEY: Blagoy Ivanov went to decision and lost a split verdict to Augusto Sakai. In the Bulgarian’s last eight bouts, he has reached the scorecards seven times. This is in sharp contrast to the beginning of his career, when “Baga” went to the judges just once in his first eight outings.

TAKE A KNEE: Mackenzie Dern hit a kneebar in the first round on Hannah Cifers and in doing so scored the first leglock submission across all women’s divisions in UFC history.

AND SHE BEAT HER SISTER TO TIE HER RECORD: Katlyn Chookagian captured a one-sided decision over Antonina Shevchenko to earn her fifth victory as a flyweight. With her triumph, she ties the record with former opponent Valentina Shevchenko for the most wins in divisional history.

ALL KINDS OF WEATHER, WE STICK TOGETHER: Chookagian became part of a select group of fighters to face off against siblings—the Shevchenkos—consecutively a major promotion. Joining the likes of Akira Shoji and Quinton Jackson, both Chookagian and “Rampage” split the two bouts with a win and a loss. Also of note, Koji Oishi met Nick Diaz in the UFC and Nate Diaz in Pancrase immediately after.

WHO AM I TO DISAGREE?: In lifting his spotless record to 8-0, Jamahal Hill leveled Klidson Abreu with a knee to the liver and follow-up punches to notch the first-round knockout. Getting the job done at the 1:51 mark, this was the fastest finish in the early career for “Sweet Dreams.”

BUT HE FOUGHT FOR A TITLE: Tim Elliott lost for the ninth time across his two UFC stints. His nine defeats are well in the lead for the most in flyweight history, with no other fighter posting more than six. Additionally, the loss by submission was his fourth, which is also a record in the division.

A REGULAR LUMBERJACK: Chris Gutierrez forced the Round 2 stoppage due to leg kicks when he battered Vince Morales’ lower extremities for nearly 10 minutes. The finish is officially the 11th in organizational history to end via leg kicks and the first in a men’s weight class below lightweight.

NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN: Coming into UFC on ESPN 9, Burns had never competed in a five-round fight (21 fights), five fighters (Woodley, Ivanov, Cifers, Abreu and Morales) had never lost consecutive bouts and Gabriel Green had never lost on the scorecards (11 fights).

NO RELATION TO Marcus Almeida: In Burns’ last 11 bouts, he has selected the walkout song choice of “Medley” by Buchecha. Across that stretch, Burns has won nine of those bouts, including his last six.

GOD’S GONNA CUT YOU DOWN: For the first time in recorded UFC walkout music history, two fighters emerged against one another with the word “God” in the song title. Billy Quarantillo made his walk accompanied by “New God Flow” by Kanye West featuring Pusha T, while Spike Carlyle countered with “God Taught Me” by Zauntee. Quarantillo won by decision.

IN THE NAME OF GOD: This event was not the first where two competitors utilized religious-themed songs or those with religious icons in the track titles. At UFC on Fox 26 in 2017, Chad Laprise used “I Got Jesus” by NF, while Galore Bofando walked out to “The Birth of a God” by Norihito Sumitomo. In the latter’s case, it was referring to a character from anime series “Dragon Ball Super.”

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