A fight between two of the top welterweight grapplers in the world ended exactly how everyone would have guessed -- a highlight reel knockout.
Gilbert Burns (18-3) rocked Demian Maia (28-10) with a short left hook to the chin, and that was all she wrote for the 42-year-old Brazilian legend. The referee gave Maia a chance to respond, but he was forced to wave off the bout at 2:34 of the first round after Burns jumped on Maia and landed more shots.
The contest at 170 pounds co-headlined UFC Fight Night on Saturday in Brasilia, Brazil. There was no crowd in the arena because of the coronavirus pandemic.
It was a stunning end to a fight that featured two Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belts. Burns, 33, said he was willing to engage with Maia on the ground but also felt he had an advantage on the feet.
"I've been following this guy his whole career, and I have tremendous admiration and respect for him," Burns said. "I think he will be a future Hall of Famer. I hope Demian gets a big fight, Anderson Silva, next. Give him that rematch."
Burns targeted Maia with kicks early on. He did not look to take Maia to the floor, but he seemed very comfortable with Maia's attempts to do so. Maia ducked in on an early single-leg attempt and brought him down, but Burns worked back to his feet moments later.
Maia nearly took Burns' back later in the round, but Burns remained calm, turned into the position and worked back to his feet again.
"I think for you to become a legend, you need to beat legends," Burns said. "Demian is a legend, and I knew I could knock him out or submit him. I know my strength. I don't want to underestimate anyone, but I know my potential. I did what a lot of tough guys didn't, and I went there and did it in less than a round. I am very excited, very happy with my performance.
"I was very touched at the end of the fight. I heard his head hitting the floor hard, I thought the referee should have stopped it. He didn't stop it, and I had to do my job, but it hurt me to have to do that. I had never felt this way, but for all the affection, admiration and respect I have for Demian, I felt bad about having to do that in the end."
Oh My Goodness!! What a hook by Burns!! Now on a 5 fight W streak with that HUGE finish. Top 10 here he comes!— Megan Anderson (@MeganA_mma) March 14, 2020
2nd bonus of the night just got snatched up!! #UFCBrasília
After the bout, Burns called for a fight against former title challenger Colby Covington. The two train in the same vicinity in South Florida. Maia has hinted at retirement previously, but he also said he wants to finish out his UFC contract. The loss snaps a three-fight winning streak for Maia.
"I believe that I have now entered the top five of the category," Burns said. "I want to face Colby Covington. He came to Sao Paulo, said a lot of bad things. I was a lightweight at the time, I couldn't talk about it. But now I am a welterweight and I want to face him anywhere."
There is a new, legitimate title challenger in the UFC's lightweight division. And it does not appear he's slowing down any time soon.
Charles "Do Bronx" Oliveira recorded his seventh consecutive finish Saturday, as he submitted former interim title challenger Kevin Lee via guillotine at the 28-second mark of the third round.
Moicano, Hadzovic get into some trash-talking after their short fight
Renato Moicano and Damir Hadzovic have some choice words for each other after their fight. For more UFC, sign up here for ESPN+ http://plus.espn.com/ufc.
Moicano wasted no time making a statement in his new weight class as he submitted Hadzovic via rear-naked choke just 44 seconds in. It was Moicano's first appearance at lightweight, after fighting exclusively at featherweight for the first eight appearances of his UFC career.
Moicano, who fights out of American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida, yelled in Hadzovic's direction after the bout was over.
"I'm sorry, but I'm very frustrated," Moicano said. "Today, I fought in my hometown but I don't see nobody. I don't see familiar faces. I don't see my family over here."
Even with no fans in the arena, Moicano delivered one of the quickest finishes of his career. He clinched with Hadzovic immediately, took him down with an outside trip and jumped straight to his back. Hadzovic, of Bosnia, was clearly out of his league and tapped to the choke.
Krylov lands heavy punches on Walker
Nikita Krylov eats a sidekick from Johnny Walker then delivers a couple of power punches in the first round. For more UFC, sign up here for ESPN+ http://plus.espn.com/ufc.
Krylov played the role of spoiler. With Walker boasting about all the changes he has made, including a move to Tristar Gym, it was Krylov who got the job done via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28).
It was the first time Krylov has won by way of decision and just his second time going to a decision overall.
Krylov was able to expose a hole in Walker's evolving game: defensive grappling. Krylov took Walker down in all three rounds and spent a good portion of the time on top. He didn't do a ton of damage from there, but that was by far the most impactful technique either man had in the bout.
In the first round, Krylov actually wobbled Walker with a right hand, which spurred Walker to duck and counter with a spinning back fist. He landed it. But Krylov was quickly on him in a clinch against the cage before landing a takedown.
Soooooo was that fight a fluke too?#UFCBrasilia— Corey Anderson UFC (@CoreyA_MMA) March 14, 2020
Krylov had Walker on his back for most of the second, but Walker was able to sweep late in the round and land hard ground and pound with Krylov turtled up.
Krylov got a takedown again early in the third and both men were clearly tired at that point. Walker swept and got on top, but Krylov was able to counter, get on top and stay there while landing some hard elbows.
"It was a hard fight," Krylov said. "Johnny is a tough opponent. He has a great striking game. My plan was to take him down and control with punches, but I don't know what happened. I felt really tired in the second round. Maybe it was because he hit me a few times, but then I was able to do what I had planned and won the fight."
Krylov, 28, is 2-2 since returning to the UFC in 2018. The Ukraine native is 8-5 in the UFC over his two runs with the promotion.
Walker, a 27-year-old Brazilian, has now lost two straight after winning three in a row by first-round KO/TKO to start his UFC run. His last fight was a first-round KO loss to Corey Anderson, who apparently didn't appreciate some people calling that a fluke outcome. Anderson mockingly asked on Twitter if Saturday's loss was another fluke for Walker.
Trinaldo controlled the center of the Octagon and went to work with power shots. Trinaldo, who is 41 years old, continues to perform well against opponents much younger than him. Makdessi is 34.
The Brazilian Trinaldo is built like a brick wall and fights with a pressure style. He was actually outstruck 68-to-55, according to UFC Stats, but Trinaldo landed the harder punches. He routinely traded Makdessi leg kicks for counter left hands.
"My opponents keep running away from me for some reason," Trinaldo said. "It's amazing to fight, even though we don't have a crowd. Thank you UFC for giving me this opportunity."
Trinaldo improves to 15-6 in the UFC. He's been fighting for the promotion since 2012.
A battle between a pair of top-five flyweights did not disappoint, and at the end of the night, Moreno made a major statement.
The fight began with a standing choke attempt by Formiga and led to Moreno owning top position and striking Formiga repeatedly until Formiga could secure Moreno's arm for another submission attempt. Moreno kept the pressure on until Formiga landed an upkick that turned the tide.
The relentless pace continued in the second round and Moreno quickly opened up a cut above Formiga's left eye.
"I have the pen in the locker room. I can give you the pen if you want." ✍️@theassassinbaby calls for @Mickmaynard2 to put him in a flyweight title fight and offers to handle the paperwork on the spot #UFCBrasilia pic.twitter.com/lZq09ecOI6— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) March 14, 2020
An eye poke to Moreno temporarily stopped the action, and when they resumed, Formiga took the fight to the ground. Moreno scrambled and turned the tables on Formiga, securing top position. As Formiga got out, Moreno landed a big kick, but it wasn't enough to stop Formiga who ended the round holding Moreno against the cage, kneeing him repeatedly in the back of the thigh.
The third round was incredibly close with both fighters landing in spurts. Formiga took top position with a minute to go and pinned Moreno down, not causing a ton of damage, but enough to cause a bit of swelling above Moreno's eye.
After the fight, Moreno said he's ready to sign on the line for a title fight. "I have the pen in the locker room!" he said.
Moreno extended his unbeaten streak to four (3-0-1). He's won back-to-back fights.
Formiga lost consecutive fights for the first time in his MMA career. It was his 30th career bout (he entered 23-6).
Moreno outlanded Formiga 33-15 in significant strikes and 94-61 in total strikes, according to UFC Stats. He also stopped all nine of Formiga's takedown attempts
Ribas, Markos trade blows to close round 2
Amanda Ribas and Randa Markos exchange heavy blows to end round 2. For more UFC, sign up here for ESPN+ http://plus.espn.com/ufc.
Ribas completely dominated with scores of 30-26 and two 30-25 scores to improve to 3-0 in the UFC and increase her overall win streak to four.
Ribas caused some swelling around Markos' right eye in the first round and continued the assault in the second by getting the better of the exchanges on the feet .
Markos' nose was bloody in the third as Ribas operated from the top position.
Ribas called out Paige VanZant after the bout.
"I was able to show that I am not just a judo athlete or a jiu-jitsu athlete or just a Muay Thai athlete. I am an MMA athlete," Ribas said. "I fought standing up, on the ground. Of course I wanted the knockout or the submission, but the victory came and that is what matters.
"Now I want two weeks to enjoy the victory. And then I want to fight Paige VanZant. We were scheduled, and I still want to face her. If she wants to fight at flyweight, I'm here, waiting. But I am ambitious. I would also like to fight the winner of the fight between Carla Esparza and Michelle Waterson. I'm sure it would be a great fight."
Zaleski dos Santos counters with strong punches
Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos counters a punch from Aleksei Kunchenko with two strong strikes to the face. For more UFC, sign up here for ESPN+ http://plus.espn.com/ufc.
It was a steady attack that led dos Santos to a unanimous-decision victory (29-28 on all three cards).
Dos Santos owned most of the action in the first round, but the tempo changed in the second. Kunchenko took control, countering a number of attacks. He utilized a number of spinning kicks throughout the round and had dos Santos on wobbly legs after a counter uppercut.
Both fighters slowed in the third round, but Kunchenko kept the pressure on as dos Santos retreated time and time again. Dos Santos' speed remained a factor, and he notched a takedown with just 35 seconds to go in the fight which may have given him the edge in the judges' eyes.
Kunchenko has lost consecutive fights after starting 2-0 in the UFC. All four of his fights have gone the distance.
Zaleski dos Santos is now 8-2 in the UFC, getting back in the win column after his seven-fight win streak was snapped in August.
Barzola attempts kneebar on Yahya in final round
Enrique Barzola nearly forces a submission by getting Rani Yahya in a kneebar in round 3. For more UFC, sign up here for ESPN+ http://plus.espn.com/ufc.
Yahya scored a single-leg takedown in the first round and fought primarily from the top position, but Barzola landed a couple of shots to end the second round and dominated the third round as judges scored it 10-8.
Barzola won one card 29-28.
Both fighters have two-fight winless streaks (0-1-1).
Barzola became the first fighter in UFC history to have his first 10 fights all go to decision.
Moroz lands strong elbows on Silva
Maryna Moroz connects with strong elbows to Mayra Bueno Silva late in the second round. For more UFC, sign up here for ESPN+ http://plus.espn.com/ufc.
It was a hard-hitting battle -- named the fight of the night -- and the former member of the Ukrainian boxing team got the job done in her return from an elbow injury with all three judges scoring the fight 29-28.
After a close first round, the second round was all Moroz who held top position for a good portion of it. She landed a number of significant strikes and was constantly active on her feet, circling with intent. Moroz set a three-round UFC women's flyweight record with 139 significant strikes landed.
The third round was a different story with Bueno Silva walking down Moroz time and time again. Her kicks found their mark, including a big knee from the clinch and a second that split her forehead wide open with a minute remaining in the fight.
Moroz has now won back-to-back fights, with each of her past six fights ending in a decision. She cashes as a +120 underdog.
Silva landed the most impactful shot of the fight with a front kick to Dvorak's face at the end of the first round, but Dvorak did enough to extend his win streak to 14. It was Dvorak's UFC debut.
Silva lost his second consecutive fight in the UFC after entering the promotion on a three-fight unbeaten streak (2-0-1).
"This was a great win for me and my team," Dvorak said. "The circumstances were hard. It was short notice, no fans at all. I am looking forward to what comes next for us in the UFC. And we believe next time will be with fans, and I believe is going to be a much better performance. I will be 100 percent.
"The beginning of the first round was pretty even, at the end I got nailed with that front kick, so Bruno got that one. Second round was clearly mine, I was more dominant in positions, and in the third round, if Bruno had worked harder, he could have beat me. But I was the one who pushed the pace and got the win.
"My whole country is going to celebrate this win. Everybody have been really supportive, there is going to be a lot of celebration. Before that, we are going to have a small celebration at Czech Republic embassy."
Malecki and Macedo exchange a series of punches
Veronica Macedo and Bea Malecki unleash a series on punches on each other at the end of the third round. For more UFC, sign up here for ESPN+ http://plus.espn.com/ufc.
Macedo came out firing with over 100 strikes thrown in the first round. Then the gas tank ran out.
From the start of the second round on, Malecki turned the tables and owned the matchup as Macedo simply didn't have enough to keep the fight moving. Macedo has lost four of her past five.
It was Malecki's first decision win. She had finished her three previous fights, including two by submission.
"It was a bit weird, not having any fans inside the arena, but I was able to hear everything my coaches were saying, and it was good," Malecki said. "Sometimes it is so loud out there. It was a crazy week; we did not know if the fight was going to happen or not, but we stuck to the plan. It was really emotional. My corner really helped me between the first and second rounds. She has been my partner for the past months, and she really made it happen tonight.
"I thought Veronica was going to try to take me down, but she actually had some good punches. I was smiling sometimes during the fight, but it is because it is fun to get hit in the head also.
"I am really happy, [UFC matchmaker] Mick Maynard just showed me a message from Dana White saying, 'What a way to start the card!'"