— UFC (@ufc) February 18, 2019
Francis Ngannou earned a signature win and the return of Cain Velasquez was left with much to be desired Sunday night.
Ngannou pepped Velasquez with several big-time shots, rocking the former UFC heavyweight champion at UFC on ESPN 1 from Phoenix. As Velasquez went down, his left knee bent almost backwards, likely resulting in another injury.
This was the first fight for Velasquez since UFC 200 when he finished Travis Browne. The former two-time champion has spent many months on the sidelines recovering from injuries in the past.
In the co-main event, Paul Felder controlled James Vick, securing a decision victory in the lightweight division. Felder has reeled off four wins in his last five fights, while this marked the second consecutive setback for Vick.
Cynthia Calvillo and Cortney Casey went the full 15 minutes in the strawweight division, as Calvillo was awarded the decision victory. The win moved her to 7-1, including two in a row since a loss to former UFC champion Carla Esparza in late 2017.
Kron Gracie made quick work of Alex Caceres in his UFC debut, taking Caceres to the canvas and locking in a rear-naked choke for the victory. Gracie, the son of Rickson Gracie, is now 5-0 with all five wins coming via submission – including four in the first round.
Welterweights Vicente Luque and Bryan Barberena took advantage of their position on ESPN, putting forth a “Fight of the Year” contender. After exchanging strikes through two-plus rounds, Luque landed with a knee flush to the face of Barberena, earning a stoppage win.
Andre Fili claimed a back-and-forth decision over Myles Jury to begin the main card. Fili moved to 5-3 over his last eight fights, with Jury falling to 2-4 since 2015.
In the prelim main event, bantamweight Aljamain Sterling scored the biggest win of his career, besting Jimmie Rivera. Sterling, who trains with Chris Weidman and Al Iaquinta under the watchful eye of Matt Serra and Ray Longo, swept all three rounds on all three scorecards.
Manny Bermudez submitted Benito Lopez, Andrea Lee topped Ashlee Evans-Smith and Nik Lentz downed Scott Holtzman to complete the ESPN prelims.
Former champion Renan Barao likely fought for the final time inside the Octagon, as he was knocked out by Luke Sanders in the second round. Along with the loss, Barao also missed weight for the contest.
Emily Whitmire kicked off the night on UFC Fight Pass with a first round submission in 61 seconds over Aleksandra Albu.
Complete results are below:
Francis Ngannou def. Cain Velasquez via KO (strike) at :26 of Round 1
Paul Felder def. James Vick via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Cynthia Calvillo def. Cortney Casey via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Kron Gracie def. Alex Caceres via submission (rear-naked choke) at 2:06 of Round 1
Vicente Luque def. Bryan Barberena TKO (strikes) at 4:54 of Round 3
Andre Fili def. Myles Jury via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Aljamain Sterling def. Jimmie Rivera via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Manny Bermudez def. Benito Lopez via submission (modified guillotine choke) at 3:09 of Round 1
Andrea Lee def. Ashlee Evan-Smith via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Nik Lentz def. Scott Holtzman via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Luke Sanders def. Renan Barao via KO (strike) at 1:01 of Round 2
Emily Whitmire def. Aleksandra Albu via submission (rear-naked choke) at 1:01 of Round 1