Sprint Center has hosted a little bit of everything since it opened in 2007, but Saturday marked the first time it served as center of the mixed martial arts universe.
The UFC made its debut in Kansas City with UFC Fight Night in front of an announced crowd of 12,171 fight fans, and those in attendance saw a bit of history.
UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson is considered by many to be the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
Johnson — nicknamed “Mighty Mouse” — retained both his unofficial title and official belt with a third-round submission of Wilson Reis.
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It was Johnson’s 10th consecutive title defense, tying a UFC record first set by middleweight Anderson Silva.
“Wilson is a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and he’s never been submitted before,” Johnson said. “That shows you the type of stuff I’m working on. It’s definitely awesome. Any champion in any sport … wants to get as many championships as they could. I could take this belt and go home, but I want 13, 14, 15 ... why not set the bar high?”
Johnson worked Reis over on the ground with a barrage of strikes at the end of both the second and third rounds. He used the opening to lock in the decisive armbar toward the end of the third round.
UFC president Dana White said that Saturday’s event grossed $1.1 million and said it was the highest-grossing event in Sprint Center history.
“It was the most stacked card of the year so far, and it was the most flawless event we could ever have,” White said. “Of course (UFC will return), especially when we break records. That always excites me. We’ve been wanting to come to Missouri for a long time, it just didn’t work out in the past. Now was the perfect time.”
The co-main event was a women’s strawweight bout between Rose Namajunas and Michelle Waterson.
It appeared as if Namajunas had ended the fight just over a minute into the second round with a roundhouse right kick that sent Waterson flying to the canvas.
But Waterson managed to stay in the fight, although not for long. Namajunas officially secured the victory moments later, at 2:42 of the second round with a rear naked choke.
“I remember we broke up with the clinch, and it kind of set up the right kick. I have a really powerful right kick, and I haven’t had the chance to show it yet,” Namajunas told the crowd. The secret is out now.
Robert Whittaker pulled off an upset in the middleweight division, stopping third-ranked Jacare Souza with a second-round TKO.
A pair of Kansas City-based fighters were successful in the prelims.
The last time Tim Elliott walked into an octagon, he was fighting for the UFC Flyweight title. The stakes weren’t nearly as high for Elliott’s fight on Saturday.
But, for the first time in his career, Elliott — who fights out of Lee’s Summit — walked in to fight in front of his hometown crowd.
Elliott heard and felt the love in a unanimous decision over Louis Smolka.
“Honestly, I wasn’t expecting that,” Elliott said. “I didn’t know how many people were going to be there, and I still don’t even think there were that many people, but man. The crowd was loud and intense, and I felt the cage shaking as they were screaming. This was my hometown, my home crowd, and this is right where I wanted to be.”
Zak Cummings, the other Kansas-City area fighter on the card, beat Nathan Coy by way of guillotine choke at 4:21 in the first round.
“There’s definitely a little extra pressure fighting in my hometown. This is probably my first time since I’ve been in UFC that most of my family and good friends were able to see me fight live,” Cummings said.
FOX UFC Fight Night results
FOX UFC Fight Night results
UFC Fightpass Prelims
Ketlen Vieira (9-0) def. Ashlee Evans-Smith (5-3) by unanimous decision
Zak Cummings (22-5) def. Nathan Coy (15-8), 4:21, Round 1, submission (guillotine) choke
Anthony Smith (28-12) def. Andrew Sanchez (10-4), 3:57 Round 3, TKO
Devin Clark (9-1) def. Jake Collier (10-5), unanimous decision
Aljamain Sterling (14-2) def. Augusto Mendes (6-3) unanimous decision
Tim Elliott (16-7-1) def. Louis Smolka (11-5), unanimous decision
Rashid Magomedov (21-2) def. Bobby Green (23-9), split decision
Tom Duquesnoy (15-1) def. Patrick Williams (8-5), :28, Round 2, TKO
Alexander Volkov (28-6) def. Roy Nelson (23-14), unanimous decision
FOX Main Card
FOX Main Card
Renato Moicano (11-0-1) def. Jeremy Stephens (25-14), split decision
Robert Whittaker (19-4) def. Jacare Souza 3:28, Round 2, TKO
Rose Namajunas (7-3) def. Michelle Waterson (14-5), 2:45 Round 2, submission, rear naked choke
Flyweight Championship Bout
Demetrious Johnson (26-2-1) def. Wilson Reis (22-7), 449 Round 3, submission, armbar