Tonight’s card comes to us from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, with bouts airing on UFC Fight Pass, FOX Sports 1 and pay-per-view.
In the main event, Jon Jones returns from a year-plus long hiatus to face Ovince Saint Preux for the interim light heavyweight title.
Jones (21-1) was scheduled to meet Daniel Cormier for the belt before an injury knocked Cormier out. Instead of waiting for “DC” to heal, “Bones” opted to remain on the card and in the headline role.
He’ll meet Saint Preux (19-7), who has gone 3-1 over his last four including a finish of former champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua.
The co-main features another championship match, as Demetrious Johnson defends his flyweight belt against Henry Cejudo.
Johnson (23-2-1) is the only fighter to wear the UFC 125-pound belt, while Cejudo (10-0) won gold at the 2008 Summer Olympics in freestyle wrestling for the U.S.
The other main card bouts include Anthony Pettis vs. Edson Barboza, Robert Whittaker vs. Rafael Natal and Yair Rodriguez vs. Andre Fili.
Another Pettis brother, Sergio, will headline the FS1 prelims against Chris Kelades. The other FS1 fights include Danny Roberts-Dominique Steele, Carla Esparza-Juliana Lima and Glaico Franca-James Vick.
All the action kicks off on Fight Pass with Efrain Escudero vs. Kevin Lee, Marcos Rogerio de Lima vs. Clint Hester and Walt Harris vs. Cody East.
Let’s get started!
Efrain Escudero vs. Kevin Lee
We kick things off on Fight Pass with lightweights Efrain Escudero (24-10) and Kevin Lee (11-2). And UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier is serving as the third-man in the booth with Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg.
Round 1: Good feeling out process here in the early going, as both men are finding their range with the jab. Lee is finding a home more than Escudero, though, as the former TUF winner is looking for the takedown to his advantage. Escudero with a duck-under to the back, gaining a takedown for a brief second. Lee is right back up and switches positions, working for his own takedown now and he scores. Big-time uppercut finds a home for Escudero and allows him to score with a power takedown. He stunned Lee with the shots, which were the biggest blows of the round and come right here in the final minute.
FightLine scores the round 10-9 for Escudero
Round 2: Escudero very calm and relaxed, getting in deep and scoring with another takedown. His striking out put there in the second likely gave him loads of confidence. The right lands for Lee, but Escudero walks right through it and shoots for a single-leg. Lee with some elbows to the head while Escudero tries for the takedown against the fence. Escudero stuns him with a right, as Lee isn’t ducking or defending at all.
FightLine scores the round 10-9 for Lee
Round 3: We have a brief delay after a low blow, but Lee is good to go and we’ll continue. Lee missing with wild strikes, as he looks like his might be going for a desperation shot. Escudero picking and choosing his punches, landing almost everything. Lee defends the takedown, turns and scores with a scoop and a slam. Lee is all over him and has an opening with a guillotine. Escudero slipping free and he does, grabbing the leg at the same time. Lee reigning down with hammer-fists.
FightLine scores the round 10-9 for Lee
Kevin Lee def. Efrain Escudero via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Clint Hester vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima
Another Ultimate Fighter alum steps inside the cage next, as Clint Hester (11-5) takes on Marcos Rogerio de Lima (13-3-1). Hester is moving up from middleweight, while Rogerio de Lima was a contestant on TUF: Brazil 3.
Round 1: These two like to finish fights and they are both going for it right off the bat. Nasty, nasty leg kicks by Rogerio de Lima to begin. The Brazilian connects with a right and floors Hester, looking for his 11th career first round finish. He’s on top with four-plus minutes to work, but in this position, it’s allowing Hester to recover. Mount gained for Rogerio de Lima, but Hester is tying him up to avoid any damage. Quick shots coming through by Rogerio de Lima. As we go under a minute, Rogerio de Lima is teeing off with big-time strikes. Hester looks to be in a lot of pain and here comes more elbows. Rogerio de Lima locks up a quick arm-triangle and this one is over.
Marcos Rogerio de Lima def. Clint Hester via submission (arm-triangle choke) at 4:35 of Round 1