Germaine de Randamie and a returning Urijah Faber both scored stunning first round wins at UFC Fight Night 155.
It was a controversial win for the former women’s featherweight champ, now fighting at 135lbs, somewhat in keeping to the build up of her fight with previously undefeated Aspen Ladd.
American 24-year-old Ladd had looked visibly in pain and very uneasy on her feet during the weigh ins, but was cleared to fight. However, her night was over in just sixteen seconds after what has been called an early stoppage by some, following a stiff right hand from De Randamie that knocked her off her feet in the opening exchanges.
The blow appeared to land on the chest of Ladd, but when she ended up in an awkward position on the ground and referee Herb Dean was quick to step in.
The win puts the Dutchwoman in line for a crack at 135 and 145lb queen Amanda Nunes, while Ladd goes back to the drawing board with the first blemish on her nine-fight record.
Post fight, De Randamie refused to be drawn on the next steps for her, but defended the stoppage – the tied quickest in women’s bantamweight history.
For Faber, it was a return to the Octogon for the first time since 2016, and few of his 44 previous fights will have been as spectacular.
Stepping out of retirement to face the fancied Ricky Simon, a man 14 years his junior, The California Kid took just 46 seconds to drop his foe with a booming right hand up against the cage.
The defeat ended an eight-fight win-streak for Simon, and while this may not be the start of a renaissance for Faber, it certainly adds to his legacy to come back and win in such fashion at 40-years-of-age.
Elsewhere on the card there were notable wins for Josh Emmett, Andre Fili, Julianna Pena, and Ryan Hall.
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History will be made in September as the women will fight on a UFC card in Abu Dhabi for the first time.
Scottish flyweight Joanne Calderwood will face American Andrea Lee, while Liana Jojua squares up against Canada’s Sarah Moras.
It will be Calderwood’s tenth UFC fight when she steps into the Octagon on September 7, with a quick turnaround from her last bout – a controversial points loss to Katlyn Chookagian just last month.
The defeat meant Jojo, who is ranked fifth in the flyweight division, slipped to an overall MMA record of 13-4 – and halted the momentum she has on the back of a couple of impressive wins.
By contrast, opponent Andrea Lee comes into the fight on the back of a seven-fight win streak, with three of those victories in the UFC.
Ranked seventh in the division, Lee will see this as the perfect opportunity to break into the top five, and potentially be a win or two away from the title picture.
Georgian prospect Liana Jojua will be making her UFC debut when she steps into the cage in Abu Dhabi.
The 24-year-old is unbeaten in her last five fights, and has a 7-2 record overall. Something of a submission expert, Jojua has finished five of her seven wins via tap out.
Her opponent Sarah Moras has lost her last three in the UFC, and four of her last five. In 2015 she took current strawweight champ Jessica Andrade the distance, but has failed to establish herself in the division since.
Her last outing in May ended in a TKO defeat to Macy Chiasson.
The rematch between Paul Felder and Edson Barboza has been confirmed as the co-main event for UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi.
The Brazilian Barboza won via unanimous decision when the two met back in 2015, but this will be a very different prospect.
Back then, Felder was undefeated as a pro, with 10 wins under his belt – but only two of them in the UFC.
Barboza was already a veteran of 12 fights in the Octagon, winning nine of them – including the highlight reel knockout of Terry Etim.
Today he stands on the back of three defeats in his last four – albeit to high level opposition in Justin Gaethje, Kevin Lee and UFC 242 headliner Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Felder, who has now matured into a cerebral fighter as his regular stints on commentary show, has won four of his last five with the only blemish in that run coming against the dangerous Mike Perry.
UFC 242 takes place on September 7 at The Arena, Abu Dhabi, headlined by the lightweight title fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Dustin Poirier.