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Kamaru Usman, Amanda Nunes retain titles at UFC 245

Three champions put their belts on the line at UFC 245 on Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena.

Two walked out of the arena with the belt still wrapped around their waist.

Welterweight champion Kamaru Usman knocked out Colby Covington in the final minute of the fifth round to retain his belt, and women’s bantamweight champ Amanda Nunes showed off her wrestling skills to win a unanimous decision over Germaine de Randamie.

Featherweight champion Max Holloway wasn’t as fortunate, as he dropped a decision to former professional rugby player Alexander Volkanovski.

It was Usman’s win in the main event that stole the show.

He landed a big right hand in the final two minutes of a back-and-forth fight to change the complexion of the bout. Usman knocked down Covington twice and followed with right hands on the ground to force the referee to step in at 4:10 of the final round and avoid putting his fate in the hands of the judges.

Covington has polarized fans and fighters with an over-the-top commitment to his gimmick as a supporter of President Donald Trump with vile statements directed at foreigners and immigrants. Usman, an elite wrestler, admitted he got emotional and veered from his usual game plan.

“That’s not how I usually fight,” he said. “I got a little emotional because I wanted to knock him out so bad. I said all week I’d punish him for 24 minutes before I finished him, and that’s what I did.

“This wasn’t just for me. It’s for the whole entire world.”

Also on the card, Volkanovski slowed down the attack of Holloway, largely with a barrage of leg kicks in the early rounds and controlled distance on his way to a unanimous decision to end Holloway’s 13-fight winning streak at featherweight and take the 145-pound title.

Volkanovski has won straight fights, including an 8-0 run in the UFC. He won 48-47 on two cards, with the other judge awarding him all five rounds.

“I thought it was pretty back and forth, but my corner was telling me that we were getting the job done, so I just kept at it,” Volkanovski said. “As soon as I heard 50-45, I knew that was all me.”

Holloway vowed to reclaim the title.

“I’m only 28, and I’m still getting better,” Holloway said. “I’ll be back.”

Nunes, a two-division champion, took some big shots from de Randamie in the second round of their women’s bantamweight title bout, so she opted for a new path to the victory.

Nunes, who dominated the first round, took de Randamie down repeatedly over the final 15 minutes and cruised to a unanimous decision over the former world champion kickboxer.

“My game plan was to go five rounds and work the takedown,” said Nunes, who also has the featherweight title. “Honestly, I was a little bit off tonight, but I’m the champ, I always have plan A, B, C and more. If something goes wrong with the first plan, I just go to the next one. I couldn’t get my timing well with the striking, so I decided to go to the takedowns.”

Top bantamweight contender Marlon Moraes overcame a tough second round to rally in the third and earn a split-decision win over former featherweight champ Jose Aldo, who was making his debut at 135 pounds.

Bantamweight veteran Urijah Faber survived a beating from contender Petr Yan for two rounds, but couldn’t withstand a vicious head kick early in the third as Yan extended his winning streak to nine in the opener of the main card.

Faber, 40, came out of retirement in June with a 46-second knockout of Ricky Simon, but couldn’t follow it up.

Geoff Neal needed 90 seconds to knock out Mike Perry, and Matt Brown finished Ben Saunders with punches five seconds before the end of the second round in two featured welterweight bouts

Irene Aldana spoiled top women’s bantamweight contender Ketlen Vieira’s hopes of getting a title shot by scoring a knockout with nine seconds left in the first round to hand Vieira the first loss of her career.

Middleweight Omari Akhmedov won a unanimous decision over Ian Heinisch, and flyweight Brandon Moreno earned the favor of all three judges to defeat Kai Kara-France

Las Vegans Jessica Eye and Punahele Soriano opened the preliminary card with victories.

Soriano knocked out middleweight Oskar Piechota in his UFC debut, and Eye bounced back from a women’s flyweight title loss with a unanimous decision over Viviane Araujo.

Also, 20-year-old featherweight Chase Hooper knocked out Daniel Teymur in the first round.

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Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.

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