The second UFC event of the year is in the books, and it was an entertaining one, as more half of the fights ended via stoppage and several new contenders were crowned. Overall on the night, eight favorites earned victories, while three underdogs got the job done and there was one pick’em fight according to the 5Dimes Sportsbook closing odds. Favorites That Won In the main event of the evening, bantamweights Valentina Shevchenko and Julianna Pena threw down in a number one contender fight. Pena looked to pressure Shevchenko against the fence with her size and strength, but Shevchenko caught two knees and scored takedowns in the first round. Things looked scary in the second frame when Pena seemed to be in control and scored a takedown of her own, but Shevchenko locked in an armbar, turned belly down and forced Pena to tap out, earning a title shot. Shevchenko proved herself as a -175 favorite (bet $175 to win $100) while Pen1 lost as a +165 underdog. In a heavyweight slugfest, Francis Ngannou made quick work of former champion Andrei Arlovski, landing a pair of big looping strikes to send Arlovski flying to the canvas and then finishing him off with some follow-up ground blows. Ngannou proved betters correct as a heavy -380 favorite. In a featherweight bout, Jason Knight put a ton of pressure on Alex Caceres, utilizing aggression to overcome a technical striking disadvantage and then dominating with his ground game when Caceres was flustered. Eventually, Knight took Caceres’ back in the second round and forced “Bruce Leeroy” to tap out. Knight made his mark as a -130 favorite. In a middleweight fight, Sam Alvey finally found his groove in the second round and was able to earn a decision over Nate Marquardt, who simply stayed too far away and was hesitant to engage both with striking and grappling. Alvey was able to convince the judges to award him a unanimous decision at -135 odds. In a bantamweight snoozer, Aljamain Sterling showed a bit too much respect for Raphael Assuncao, who responded by waiting to counter with his boxing. Assuncao landed the heavier strikes in the first two rounds, but Sterling finally turned it on a bit in the third, although it was too little, too late as he lost a split decision. Assuncao pulled through as a -140 favorite. In a welterweight war, Li Jingliang and Bobby Nash beat the tar out of each other, both getting hurt badly in a wild first round which saw multiple momentum shifts. In the second round, however, Nash started to slow down due to some heavy leg kick damage and Jingliang proceeded to connect with a pair of massive right hands to knock him out. Jingliang was victorious as a -125 betting favorite. In a light heavyweight scrap, Jordan Johnson made a great first impression in his UFC debut, hurting Luiz Henrique on the feet and then proceeding to take him down in the final two rounds to easily win a one-sided unanimous decision. Johnson closed as a -185 favorite. In a light heavyweight battle, Marcos Rogerio de Lima made up for missing weight by taking advantage of a slip from Jeremy Kimball and proceeding to batter the UFC newcomer on the ground to earn a TKO victory. De Lima was a -125 betting favorite while Kimball closed at +115. Underdogs That Won In a welterweight co-main event, Jorge Masvidal put on the performance of a lifetime, weathering some early kicks from Donald Cerrone and eventually finding a serious home for his hands on Cerrone’s face. Masvidal nearly finished Cerrone at the end of the first round (and likely should have) but he removed all doubt by putting Cerrone away one minute into the second round with a big flurry of blows along the fence after dropping him for the second time. “Gamebred” Masvidal cashed as a +158 dog (bet $100 to win $158) while Cerrone lost as a -168 favorite. In a flyweight contest, Alejandre Pantoja and Eric Shelton put on a very close fight over three rounds. Shelton scored on the feet and landed some takedowns, but Pantoja got the better of the scrambles on the canvas and was able to gain back control repeatedly, which was enough to help him win a split decision. Pantoja was a +105 underdog while Shelton was -115. In the opening bout of the evening, lightweights Jason Gonzalez and JC Cottrell put on an entertaining fight for a few minutes. Gonzalez used his length well early, landing big shots and hurting Cottrell, but Cottrell countered with a huge takedown. Once on the ground, however, Gonzalez snuck in a D’Arce choke during a transition and forced Cottrell to tap out. Gonzalez was a +110 underdog while Cottrell was -120. Pick ’em fights In a middleweight fight, Eric Spicely showcased his excellent ground game, locking in a triangle choke after Alessio Di Chirico had taken him down to earn a first round submission victory. Both men closed at pick ’em -105 odds.
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