SINGAPORE — The first Southeast Asia numbered pay-per-view event by Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) saw two enthralling title bouts at the Singapore Indoor Stadium in front of a sold-out 10,787-strong crowd on Sunday (12 June).
Dave Shaw, the organisation's senior vice-president of international and content, shared that the UFC 275 event brought in gate receipts of US$1,546,732 (S$2,146,694), which is a "sporting event gate record" at the venue.
In the main-event bout, Glover Teixeira - UFC's oldest champion at 42 years old - faced a powerful challenger for his light-heavyweight title in 29-year-old Jiri Prochazka.
It was a brutal and bloody battle - and a clear Fight of the Year candidate - but it was Czech Prochazka who choked the Brazilian-American out 4min 32sec into the fifth round to become a UFC champion for the first time.
"I just watched the moment, and the opportunities that came before me, and I took the chance," Prochazka said after winning the title. "It's amazing. Glover is a true warrior."
It was a stunning turnaround, as wily Teixeira held the upper hand as he took down Prochazka repeatedly to nullify the challenger's formidable striking skills. Eventually, however, the veteran grappler lost steam in the final two rounds after taking a tremendous amount of punishment, and an equally-bloodied Prochazka managed to turn the tables and taste sweet success.
"I gave my all, man. I'm going to keep going," Teixeira said to loud cheers from the crowd.
Valentina Shevchenko digs deep in toughest title defence
In the women's flyweight, champion Valentina Shevchenko was locked in her toughest-ever title defence, but managed to dig deep and turn the tables against Brazil's Taila Santos to retain her title via split decision.
In doing so, the Kyrgyzstani-Peruvian broke Ronda Rousey's UFC record for the most consecutive successful defences by a female champion, as the 34-year-old won her seventh title bout on the trot.
It was a narrow, somewhat fortuitous victory however, as Santos had the clear upper hand in the opening three rounds with successful takedowns and strikes, putting Shevchenko under immense pressure.
But a clash of heads between the two fighters in the third round gave Santos a big swelling near her right eye, and Shevchenko took advantage of her rival's double-vision to strike repeatedly in the last two rounds, allowing her to edge out her valiant opponent.
"This is exactly what I wanted, an opponent who doesn't give up. It was a test of my character and I welcomed such a challenge. It is in these situations that I want to show how good a champion I am," she said.
Zhang Weili beats Joanna Jedrzejczyk again to earn title shot
In a rematch of what many regard as the greatest fight in women's MMA history, China's Zhang Weili landed a spinning backfist in the second round to score a knockout win over Poland's Joanna Jedrzejczyk, earning herself a women's strawweight title shot against American Carla Esparza.
The 32-year-old, who also won the titanic first bout via split decision, held the upper hand in another bruising encounter, doing damage to her 34-year-old rival in the first round with tons of takedowns and blows on the ground.
Zhang then earned a massive roar from the crowd when she knocked Jedrzejczyk out with the surprise backfist 2min 28sec into the second round.
"My preparations went very well, and I came to Singapore in tip-top shape," she said after her win. "I hope to face Carla in Abu Dhabi in October, she's a special fighter and I think we'll put up a good fight."
After her defeat, former strawweight champion Jedrzejczyk thanked the crowd, left her gloves in the octagon and announced she is retiring after compiling a 16-5 professional MMA record.
"I am a very hard worker, I gave my all doing this for most of my life. Now it's time to move on, spend time with my family, but I will really miss my UFC teammates," an emotional Jedrzejczyk said during her post-match conference.
Here are the results of other UFC 275 bouts:
Men's welterweight: Jake Matthews (Australia) defeated Andre Fialho (Portugal) via second-round technical knockout (TKO).
Men's welterweight: Jack Della Maddalena (Australia) def. Ramazan Emeev (Russia) via 1st-rd TKO.
Men's featherweight: Josh Culibao (Australia) def. Seungwoo Choi (South Korea) via split decision.
Men's lightweight: Hayisaer Maheshate (China) def. Steve Garcia (United States) via 1st-rd KO.
Men's middleweight: Brendan Allen (United States) def. Jacob Malkoun (Australia) via unanimous decision.
Men's bantamweight: Kang Kyung Ho (South Korea) def. Batgerel Danaa (Mongolia) via unanimous decision.
Early preliminary card
Women's strawweight: Silvana Juarez (Argentina) def. Liang Na (China) via 1st-rd KO.
Women's featherweight: Ramona Pascual (United States) def. Joselyne Edwards (Panama) via unanimous decision.
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