Two of the most powerful and aggressive heavyweights in the world stepped in the cage together for what figured to be a very short fight on the UFC 226 main card at T-Mobile Arena on Saturday night.
Derrick Lewis and Francis Ngannou somehow managed to do almost nothing for 15 minutes before Lewis was awarded a unanimous-decision victory.
All he could do was shake his head and walk out of the cage after he was awarded the win.
It was a bizarre contest that drew boos from the sold-out crowd, many of whom illuminated the arena with their cellphone lights and participated in the wave as Ngannou and Lewis loaded up their right hands and stared each other down for almost the entire three rounds.
“No one wants to win a fight like that,” Lewis said. “My back was giving me problems before the fight, and I didn’t have the mobility that I needed. The plan was to pressure him and put him against the cage, but I didn’t have the mobility to do that. I feel terrible.”
It was clear from the beginning both fighters were wary of the other’s power. Lewis attempted to throw kicks on occasion, but Ngannou mostly sidestepped them and reset instead of countering.
Ngannou, who trains in Las Vegas, consistently worked his way to striking range only to back off before throwing a shot, seemingly waiting for Lewis to strike so he could counter. The chess match continued until the last minute or so of the fight, but it was too late and neither ever really landed a significant blow.
It was a huge change from the violence on display earlier in the evening:
■ Welterweight Mike Perry snapped a two-fight losing streak and earned the first decision victory of his career by capturing a split verdict after three wild rounds that left both fighters covered in Felder’s blood from a nasty cut over his right eye.
Perry ripped Felder’s face open with a left hand late in the second round and went on to win the fight on two of the three scorecards.
It was Perry’s first fight since relocating to Florida to train at Jackson-Wink MMA in hopes of corralling his wild aggression and power.
■ Former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis transitioned a triangle into an armbar off his back to submit Michael Chiesa, who trains in Las Vegas, just 52 seconds into the second round. Pettis won for the second time in three fights since moving back up to 155 pounds.
■ Las Vegan Khalil Rountree handed kickboxing star Gokhan Saki the first loss of his career in a light heavyweight bout. Rountree dropped Saki with a left hand and followed with vicious hammerfists to stop the bout after just 1:36 in the first fight on the main card.
■ Unbeaten Brazilian middleweight Paulo Costa highlighted the preliminary card with a second-round knockout of Las Vegan Uriah Hall. Costa improved to 12-0 overall and 4-0 in the UFC with all four wins coming by knockout. He has never been pushed to a third round in his professional career.
■ Lightweight Dan Hooker had the only other stoppage on the preliminary card, winning his fourth straight fight inside the distance with a first-round knockout of Gilbert Burns.
— Bantamweight contender Raphael Assuncao made his case for a title shot by winning all three rounds over Rob Font and lightweight Drakkar Klose similarly controlled his bout against Lando Vannata.
— Welterweight Curtis Millender edged Max Griffin and Las Vegan Emily Whitmire dominated the third round on the ground to earn the nod from all three judges in her women’s strawweight fight against Jamie Moyle, a former local who relocated her camp to Sacramento, California.