Amanda Nunes wound up and let her punches rip, and even if the first one missed, the next ones battered Cris Cyborg and resulted in a stunning first-round knockout in the UFC 232 clash of champions Saturday night at the Forum.
Nunes (17-4) crushed Cyborg with a devastating right hand to the left ear to finish off the barrage of heavy blows that sent Cyborg (20-2) to her first defeat since 2005 and made Nunes the first two-division women’s champion in UFC history.
“My coach always tells me, ‘Keep calm, and when you land the hand, she’s going to go down,’” Nunes said in the octagon before riding out of it on her coach’s shoulders with her two belts strapped over both shoulders.
The knockout victory came 51 seconds into the first round, just two years after Nunes relied on her punching power to finish former champion Ronda Rousey in less than one minute.
“Incredible, oh my God!” bantamweight champion Nunes said after capturing the featherweight belt held by her previously unstoppable Brazilian countrywoman.
“I told you I’m the greatest. Now, I have to be in the hall of fame.”
Molds of her fists should be there, too, after she first dropped Cyborg to one knee with a left hand to the head. As Cyborg struggled to find composure, Nunes blasted her with a right hand to the jaw that sent Cyborg down again, this time on two knees.
When Cyborg got up, she was met by the hard right to the ear, turning as she fell head first to the canvas.
“My coach told me, ‘When she turns, use the overhand right, and you’ll knock her out,’” Nunes said.
The action preceded the night’s the main event, a rematch between former champion Jon Jones and Sweden’s Alexander Gustafsson for the men’s light-heavyweight title, with Jones (23-1) reclaiming his belt by third-round technical knockout.
The UFC 232 card was shifted to the Forum from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas a week ago, after the Nevada State Athletic Commission declined to license Jones following a positive test for a trace amount of a steroid metabolite, the same one he tested positive and was suspended for last year.
Michael Chiesa wanted the comfort of 15 extra pounds after struggling for so long to make weight as a lightweight, and the ease in his new division became obvious Saturday night.
Chiesa (15-4) submitted former interim welterweight champion Carlos Condit (30-13) by a Kimura (arm twist) 56 seconds into the second round.
After boasting to ring announcer Bruce Buffer that he applied the Kimura to Condit’s left arm using only his left hand, Chiesa said, “This is my division and I just showed I am a top-15 fighter no matter what division.”
Chiesa said he didn’t doubt he could handle the move from 155 pounds to 170.
“I know how strong I am, I know what I do in the gym,” Chiesa said.
Top-10 featherweight Alexander Volkanovski pressed for a move into the top five after scoring a second-round technical knockout of fifth-ranked Chad Mendes (18-5) in the pay-per-view opener.
Mendes got the better of stand-up action in the first round and knocked down Volkanovski in the second. But Volkanovski impressively answered with flush punches.
On the ground, Mendes tried for a chokehold, then opted to rise — a decisive mistake because Volkanovski (19-1) hammered him with a left hand to the body against the cage, followed by a right to the head that dropped Mendes. There, Volkanovski landed another hard right to the face to gain the stoppage at 4:14 of the second.
“Even though he’s one of the toughest in the division, I knew this would get me into the top five. I’m ecstatic,” Volkanovski said. “I wasn’t hurt [when knocked down]. I was clear-headed. I had to keep coming forward.
“I know the jiu jitsu and stand-up guys and I’m [champion] Max Holloway’s worst nightmare. He hasn’t fought anyone like me.”
Tenth-ranked light-heavyweight Corey Anderson (12-4) defeated No. 5 Ilir Latifi (14-6) of Sweden by unanimous-decision scores of 29-28, 29-28, 29-28, and called out Anthony Smith next.
Former women’s title challenger Cat Zingano of San Diego was stopped by a strange, first-round technical knockout by Australia’s Megan Anderson.
Zingano (10-4), who has lost four of five fights since getting a bantamweight title shot against Ronda Rousey at Staples Center, was backing when Anderson landed a left kick to her right eye, causing Zingano to wince and turn for cover against the cage.
Instead of allowing Zingano time to recover as referees typically do when a finger pokes an eye, referee Marc Goddard let the action continue. Anderson (9-3) landed two left-handed punches to the body and Goddard stopped the fight, making Anderson the winner by TKO 1:01 into the first.
“I’m just doing my job,” Anderson said. “I backed off” after the eye injury, “but she didn’t answer to what [Goddard] was saying. If she wants it, she can have it again.
“She’s a very tough, tenacious opponent … [stuff] happens.”
The undercard also featured a first-round submission (heel hook) victory by featherweight Ryan Hall over former two-division champion B.J. Penn at 2:46. It was Penn’s sixth straight loss and first submission loss of his career.
“It was an honor to get to compete with him,” Hall (7-1) said. “He is someone I looked up to my whole career and will continue looking up to. There are many champions, but few legends, and I got to face a legend tonight.”
Alabama heavyweight Walt Harris (12-7) edged former heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski by split decision, 27-30, 29-28, 29-28, landing a defining left hand to the face that backed Arlovski (27-18) in the third round.