Dominick Reyes is undefeated and No. 7 in ESPN’s light heavyweight Top 10. Chris Weidman is a former middleweight champion making his long-awaited debut at 205 pounds. Their clash in the main event of UFC Fight Night on Friday in Boston has significant implications for the weight class ruled by pound-for-pound No. 1 Jon Jones.
Whoever wins could be next in line for a shot at Jones.
But before Reyes and Weidman step inside the Octagon at TD Garden, there are a dozen other fights. A rematch between Jeremy Stephens and Yair Rodriguez has added heat because of how the featherweights’ first meeting played out on Sept. 21 when the fight was called after just 15 seconds because Rodriguez accidentally poked Stephens in the eye.
There’s a heavyweight bout featuring former NFL player Greg Hardy. And there’s the return to action of Massachusetts veteran Joe Lauzon, who has earned a UFC-high 15 fight bonuses, along with a meeting of two other locals, Manny Bermudez (born in Boston) and Charles Rosa (Peabody, Massachusetts). Maycee Barber faces Gillian Robertson in a battle of two of the top 25 MMA fighters under 25, according to ESPN.
Fight in progress
From ESPN Stats & Info: McCann wins her third consecutive fight after losing her UFC debut to Gillian Robertson.
In Round 1, Sean Woodson connects on a pair of knees to the head of Kyle Bochniak. For more UFC, sign up here for ESPN+ http://plus.espn.com/ufc.
“I’m ecstatic, super happy I got the win,” Woodson said. “Now that it’s all settling in, I’m a little disappointed I couldn’t get the finish. I felt like it was there multiple times.
“This banged-up hand in the first round put a halt to that, so I’m excited to get back in there and really show what I can do. When he kept walking forward, I just was wishing that my hand was better so that I could hit him with it, but I knew that was his style so I just stayed focused, stuck to my jab and focused on footwork. The Contender Series really helped prepare me for this, this whole setup, and being in the Octagon wasn’t brand new to me. It’s pretty similar and that helped a lot. I don’t think my hand is broken — it’s just a little banged up, so I’ll be out for a few weeks and hopefully I can be back in January and stay active. I want to fight every three to four months if possible.”
Randy Costa and Boston Salmon both let their hands fly early in Round 1. For more UFC, sign up here for ESPN+ http://plus.espn.com/ufc.
“This was just absolutely incredible — I achieved the dream,” Costa said. “There were a lot of naysayers and I think I proved them wrong. I think I showed a lot of composure in that fight. Getting my first UFC win in Boston, in the Garden, in the town that I was raised in, is outrageous. I’m just so happy to be here.
“In my last UFC fight and in all of my local fights, I always get too hyped up in the back and on the way out and then I make stupid mistakes in the fight. For this one, I just slowed everything down and removed myself from the environment. I was able to see everything coming and was able to execute. I’m going on vacation this week and expect to come back at no less than 205 pounds, so unless they want to give me a fight at light heavyweight, then I’m going to have to wait until the start of 2020 to get back in there. When I first stepped in the gym, I never expected to see myself in the UFC, never mind taking amateur fights or training with a legend like Joe Lauzon. This all feels like a dream, but I’m going to keep working to make it more of a reality. “
From ESPN Stats & Info: It’s the fifth career knockout for Costa, all in the first round. Salmon suffers consecutive first-round knockout losses.
Sean Brady checks Court McGee’s high kick and counters with a powerful left hand in Round 1. For more UFC, sign up here for ESPN+ http://plus.espn.com/ufc.
“To get here and to win just means the world to me — I feel like I could cry talking about it,” Brady said. “It means so much to me and my family, my coaches, just everyone who has sacrificed so much for me to get here. It’s huge. I’m excited to be here. A lot of people doubted me, especially against a tough veteran like Court McGee. I dropped him and he came back. He’s only been finished one time for a reason and I think I came close to doing that again.
“My biggest thing coming into this fight was not trying to force a finish, gas myself out and lose off of that. His pressure is something I’ve never dealt with before. If I had tried to jump on him after I dropped him, I would have probably just gotten myself into trouble. I want to finish people, I want to knock them out, I want to submit them, but winning is the only thing that matters. I want to move myself up, 11-0, 12-0, 13-0, that’s the only thing that matters to me. I’m here to win fights. As long as they say I’m good, I want to fight again this year. I was signed back in March and wanted to fight more this year. Things happened — it is what it is — but I just want to fight and keep getting better. “
From ESPN Stats & Info: It is Brady’s sixth career win by decision, while McGee loses his second consecutive fight and fourth in his past five.
Brendan Allen looks to sink in a submission late in Round 1, but Kevin Holland is able to escape. For more UFC, sign up here for ESPN+ http://plus.espn.com/ufc.
“I feel good, started off a little slow, but we got the finish and that’s all that matters,” Allen said. “It was good to have my fight on the Contender Series before this because it helped teach me to not put any pressure on myself and take everything in after the fight and not before.
“I saw the elbow coming. It was slow … but he’s so long that it still got there and cut me. I felt it and the blurriness, so I knew I had to deal with it and get him back. I think a win over Kevin shows everyone that I’m here for real and that I belong here. Hopefully I get Eryk Anders or Anthony Hernandez next — they’re both respectable guys and I’d love those fights. Kevin is a really respectable guy, too. He’s fought some very tough opponents, so I’m glad to be the first person to finish him since he’s been in the UFC. I want to get home and witness the birth of my baby girl, so end of January or beginning of February, I want to get right back in there.”
From ESPN Stats & Info: It’s the eighth career submission win for Allen, who now has a five-fight win streak. Holland’s three-fight win streak is snapped with the loss. Allen is a former LFA middleweight champion who is the only one to make a successful defense of that belt. Eryk Anders, Markus Perez, Anthony Hernandez and Ian Heinisch all were signed by the UFC before they could make a defense of their title.
From ESPN Stats & Info: Boser wins his second straight, this one coming in his UFC debut. It’s his seventh career win by decision. Spitz loses his second straight and third of four since making his UFC debut on March 4, 2017.