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UFC 239: Amanda Nunes turns the tables on Holly Holm

Former women’s bantamweight champion Holly Holm’s greatest triumph in the cage came as a result of a head kick knockout of Ronda Rousey in 2015 to claim the belt.

Her attempt to regain the title was thwarted in the same manner.

Amanda Nunes retained the belt with a first-round knockout of Holm on the UFC 239 card at T-Mobile Arena on Saturday night.

While Holm’s stoppage of Rousey was with the left foot, Nunes saw an opening and ended the fight with her right as Holm fell to the mat and flopped around the cage trying to get back up.

“This feels amazing,” said Nunes, who also holds the featherweight title. “People say what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but this belt is going home with me. During my warmup, I knew I was going to get her. I told my coaches I wanted to knock her out the same way she knocks people out. I did it tonight. She was the only former champion I didn’t beat yet. Now, I beat her and I’m very happy.”

Nunes indicated she wants to defend the featherweight belt next.

Jorge Masvidal may finally get his shot at the welterweight title after his spectacular performance Saturday.

Masvidal needed even less time to beat Ben Askren after repeatedly describing the horrific things he planned to do to Askren in order to hand him his first career loss during the contentious buildup to their fight.

It took Masvidal only five seconds to back up his words.

Masvidal sprinted across the cage and delivered a flying knee just as Askren ducked down to shoot for a takedown and Askren was knocked unconscious in the fastest knockout in UFC history.

“I really wanted to beat him up for 14 minutes and 30 seconds before ending him, but it didn’t happen,” said Masvidal, who got down on the mat to continue the verbal assault as the referee tended to Askren. “Now it’s back to business. I have nothing nice to say about him. He was talking wild and I had to show him there are consequences. You’re welcome for ending that, dude.”

Michael Chiesa opened the main card with his second consecutive victory since moving up to welterweight by controlling position for nearly the entire 15 minutes on his way to a unanimous decision over Diego Sanchez.

“Sheer stupidity,” Chiesa said of what kept him at 155 pounds for so much of his career and enduring weight cuts that zapped him of his strength and energy.

Chiesa has defeated Sanchez and Carlos Condit and will now seek a top-10 opponent for his next bout.

The move up in weight didn’t go as well for former middleweight champion Luke Rockhold in his light heavyweight debut.

Rockhold looked comfortable early, but took a couple big shots in the closing seconds of the first round before he was finished by a big left hook at 1:39 of the second round.

It was the third loss in four fights for Rockhold since winning the 185-pound belt, though he had been out of action since February 2018.

A pair of 21-year-old star prospects highlighted the preliminary card with dominant performances.

Middleweight Edmen Shabazyan, who comes from the same camp as former women’s bantamweight champ Ronda Rousey, needed just 72 seconds to submit Jack Marshman and remain undefeated.

Bantamweight Yadong Song, out of Urijah Faber’s camp in Sacramento, Calif., knocked out Alejandro Perez in 2:04.

Veteran featherweight Gilbert Melendez was unsuccessful in his return from nearly two years away from competition as he was outclassed over three rounds in a one-sided loss to Arnold Allen. It was the fifth straight loss for Melendez.

Women’s strawweight contender Claudia Gadelha improved to 4-2 since losing a title bout to Joanna Jedrzejczyk in 2016 with a unanimous-decision victory over Randa Markos.

Marlon Vera submitted late-replacement Nohelin Hernandez midway through the second round of a bantamweight bout. Vera had been slated for a marquee matchup against Sean O’Malley, but an issue with his drug test forced him out two weeks ago.

The first two bouts of the card went the distance as women’s bantamweight newcomer Julia Avila cruised past Pannie Kianzad and Chance Rencountre upset welterweight Ismail Naurdiev.

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

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