Aleksei Oleinik won his 58th fight as a professional.
Russia’s Aleksei Oleinik defeated Minnesota’s Maurice Greene by second-round submission, giving the 42-year-old an astonishing 58 wins as a professional mixed martial artist.
The two heavyweights spent a lot of time on the canvas, where Oleinik, nicknamed The Boa Constrictor, preferred to fight.
By midway through Round 2, both men looked exhausted, and wound up pretzeled together near the fence before Oleinik trapped Greene in an arm bar.
The victory ends a two-fight losing streak for Oleinik, while Greene has now lost two straight.
Tom Brady is among the celebrities watching.
A series of celebrity sightings at U.F.C. 246 turned up one fairly unusual spectator for this time of year: N.F.L. quarterback Tom Brady, on the eve of football’s conference championship games.
Brady, who has won six Super Bowls with the New England Patriots, lost in the wild-card round of the playoffs to the Tennessee Titans, so he didn’t have to prepare for the A.F.C. championship game on Sunday (where the Titans will play the Kansas City Chiefs).
Before this year, Brady had played in the last eight A.F.C. championship games.
Brady was shown along with several football personalities, including Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey, Browns players Myles Garrett and Baker Mayfield, and Raiders owner Mark Davis, who is moving the team from Oakland, Calif., to Las Vegas.
The most unusual U.F.C. spectator in recent memory, however: President Trump, who watched Jorge Masvidal beat Nate Diaz in November at Madison Square Garden.
Brian Kelleher wins with a guillotine choke.
Ode’ Osbourne’s U.F.C. debut started with such promise. The 28-year-old from Milwaukee scooted on all fours to the center of the octagon, then leapt to smash opponent Brian Kelleher with a flying right hand. But the rest of the bout belonged to Kelleher, who promptly dumped Osbourne on his back, and maneuvered him into a guillotine choke, forcing Osbourne to submit.
“This is all I know, man,” Kelleher told commentator Joe Rogan immediately after the fight. “I know fighting and nothing else. It was my time to keep my job.”
The win was Kelleher’s first since February 2018.
Former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis loses to Diego Ferreira.
Anthony Pettis would have preferred a fight that fit his nickname of Showtime — high-action and high-impact. But his opponent Diego Ferreira didn’t care for Pettis’s preferences.
Ferreira, a 35-year-old Brazilian, stalked Pettis and when he caught up, clung to him like a wet suit. He dragged Pettis to the canvas more than once and, early in Round 2, trapped the former lightweight champion in a rear naked choke, forcing Pettis to submit. The stoppage came at 1:46 of the second round.
Pettis’s $155,000 guarantee was the highest for any fighter on the card outside of the main event. Ferreira earned a $50,000 guarantee and another $50,000 for the win.
Roxanne Modafferi closes the preliminary bouts with a bloody, dominant win over Maycee Barber, who hurt a knee.
After two rounds of being mauled by the veteran fighter Roxanne Modafferi, flyweight prospect Maycee Barber summoned a ringside doctor to examine her wobbly left knee and determine whether she could continue.
“She’s got a small partial A.C.L. tear. She’s fine,” the doctor told the referee before the start of the third round, referring to her anterior cruciate ligament.
The fight continued and so did Modafferi’s dominance. According to sports books, Modafferi, a 37-year-old Las Vegas resident, was the biggest underdog on the card — as much as 6 to 1 in some casinos. But she used well-timed punches and savvy grappling to earn her 24th professional win.
Barber left the octagon with a bloody gash near her hairline, and her first loss in nine pro bouts. The scores from the judges were 30-27, 30-27 and 30-26.
Sodiq Yusuff appears to be an exciting prospect at 145 pounds.
After the opening bell, Andre Fili of Sacramento, Calif., greeted his opponent, Sodiq Yusuff, with a raised hand, looking for a sportsmanlike touching of gloves. Yusuff, a rising contender from Camp Spring, Md., responded with a front kick that missed Fili’s face by what looked like an inch.
From there, the two featherweights spent three rounds trading punches — Yusuff landed more powerful ones — and takedowns. Fili brought Yusuff to the canvas more often, but Yusuff’s takedowns were more authoritative.
The bout ended in a workmanlike win for the 26-year-old Yusuff, with all three judges scoring it 29-28 (two rounds to one).
Askar Askarov beats Tim Elliott with a unanimous decision.
Russian flyweight Askar Askarov remained undefeated as a pro, with a unanimous decision win over an aggressive Tim Elliott.
Askarov dropped Elliott with a crisp left hand in the first round, but spent much of the second on his back thanks to judo-style hip tosses from Elliott, a 33-year-old from Lees Summit, Mo. Askarov retreated for much of round three but landed enough punches to win the fight.
The judges’ scores were: 29-28, 30-27 and 30-27.
Drew Dober starts off the ESPN preliminary bouts with a win in 70 seconds.
That didn’t take long.
Nasrat Haqparast saw an opening for a leg kick, so he threw one. But Drew Dober, a densely-muscled southpaw, saw a bigger opening — for an overhand left. Their blows landed simultaneously, but Dober’s did damage.
Haqparast hit the mat and Dober pummeled him with punches and elbows until the referee stopped the bout. It took 70 seconds and was, according to betting odds, an upset.
“I will knock anyone out in the division, I promise,” Dober said in the ring afterward.
There are four fights on the ESPN preliminary card, then five bouts on the main pay-per-view card.
Here is a list of the bouts in chronological order. The five-round main event will likely happen after midnight Eastern. The rest of the fights before then are scheduled for three rounds each.
Drew Dober vs Nasrat Haqparast (lightweight)
Tim Elliott vs Askar Askarov (flyweight)
Andre Fili vs Sodiq Yusuff (featherweight)
Roxanne Modafferi vs Maycee Barber (flyweight)
Anthony Pettis vs Diego Ferreira (lightweight)
Brian Kelleher vs Ode’ Osbourne (bantamweight)
Aleksei Oleinik vs Maurice Greene (heavyweight)
Holly Holm vs Raquel Pennington (bantamweight co-main event)
Conor McGregor vs Donald Cerrone (welterweight main event)
The layoff from mixed martial arts is the second longest of McGregor’s career.
The 15-month span between McGregor’s loss to Nurmagomedov and Saturday night’s fight with Cerrone is the second-longest layoff of McGregor’s mixed martial arts career, and it’s not clear how the time off might affect his skills in the octagon.
McGregor spent nearly two years away from the octagon before he lost to Nurmagomedov, a period that included his big-money boxing match with Mayweather. The time off might have contributed to the loss, but the undefeated Nurmagomedov was a difficult opponent for McGregor no matter what.
Cerrone, in contrast, has been one of the U.F.C.’s busiest athletes. He competed four times in 2019 alone, winning twice and losing twice.
The weight limit of 170 pounds could work in Cerrone’s favor.
McGregor is a former featherweight and lightweight champion, but Saturday’s bout will take place in the welterweight division, where the 170-pound weight limit could favor the taller Cerrone.
McGregor has spent the vast majority of his career competing in the 145- and 155-pound divisions, and has only competed twice as a welterweight. In March 2016 he lost by submission to Nick Diaz, and five months later he defeated Diaz by submission.
Cerrone fought exclusively as welterweight for more than two years, winning six fights and losing four between February 2016 and November 2018. But all of his bouts in 2019 took place in the 155-pound class.
Conor McGregor is back headlining a U.F.C. card.
Conor McGregor, the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s biggest star, is finally back in the octagon after a 15-month absence.
More than three years after losing to the boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a highly popular crossover bout, and after tapping out against Khabib Nurmagomedov in October 2018, McGregor is scheduled to headline U.F.C. 246 on Saturday night. The 31-year-old former champion in two weight classes will face Donald Cerrone, a kickboxing specialist from Albuquerque who is known professionally as Cowboy.
Leading up to the fight, McGregor has presented himself as mature and focused, still capable of spectacular violence in the octagon, but also promising that the numerous legal problems that derailed his 2019 are behind him.
McGregor, despite his absence, is the promotion’s best-known fighter. McGregor’s fans packed smaller events in Las Vegas leading up to the fight, and this week Reebok announced the release of a new shoe endorsed by McGregor. That a fighter who hasn’t won a bout since 2016 can generate this much attention from fans and sponsors highlights McGregor’s flair for self-promotion.
But he still has to fight.