Hall of Famer Faber earns quickest KO in return fight

“The Kid” has still got it. In his return from a 2½-year sabbatical, Urijah Faber continues to add to his UFC Hall of Fame legacy.

Faber picked up the fastest finish of his MMA career, knocking out prospect Ricky Simon in 46 seconds in the co-main event of UFC Sacramento on Saturday night. Faber, who grew up in the area, was a huge crowd favorite, but an underdog in the sportsbooks due to the long layoff. Faber “retired” in December 2016, but always intended on coming back at some point.

He certainly made the return count. Faber landed a massive right hand to Simon’s face early in the first round, flooring him. Faber pounced and landed big shots on the ground until referee Mike Beltran pulled him off. It was the first KO/TKO win for Faber since January 2007, when he beat Joe Pearson at WEC 25.

Afterward, Faber answered Henry Cejudo‘s challenge from UFC 228 last month when Cejudo won the UFC bantamweight title.

“I think Henry Cejudo called me out a little bit ago,” Faber said. “I heard Dana White said I was old. I know Dana White was old when he was 40, but I’m a young man.”

Turning the conversation back to Cejudo, Faber added: “I’m down to get down.”

Faber said his comeback will continue and he’s hoping to challenge for the title before his Team Alpha Male protégés Cody Garbrandt and Song Yadong get into title contention. Garbrandt himself is a former bantamweight champion.

“It’s a hairy situation out there,” Faber said. “I’ve gotta get it now before it’s too late.”

Faber (35-10) is a pioneer for the lighter weight classes in MMA, proving to people that athletes under 170 pounds can draw money in the sport. “The California Kid” is tied for the second most bantamweight wins in UFC history with Raphael Assuncao (11). T.J. Dillashaw, a former Faber ward, is tops with 12.

Simon (15-2) was on an eight-fight winning streak coming in. The 26-year-old Oregon native remains an up-and-coming fighter to watch out for in the 135-pound division.

Josh Emmett defeated Mirsad Bektić by first-round TKO

We found out four months ago against Michael Johnson that Emmett had big-time power in his hands. On Saturday night, we found out just how much.

Emmett rocked and dropped Bektic with a jab — that’s right, a jab — in the first round. With Bektic in big trouble, Emmett swarmed on the ground and landed big shots with Bektic turtled up. Referee Jason Herzog put a stop to the onslaught at 4:25 via TKO.

The crowd went crazy upon the finish for Emmett, a Team Alpha Male product. The featherweight slugger jumped up on the cage to celebrate afterward.

Emmett (15-2) has won two in a row and four of five. The 34-year-old Arizona native was a +125 underdog. Emmett has rebounded after a brutal knockout loss last year to Jeremy Stephens by knocking out Johnson and Bektic in back-to-back bouts. Bektic (13-2), a 28-year-old Bosnian fighter who lives in Illinois, was on a two-fight winning streak.

Karl Roberson defeated Wellington Turman by split decision

At the start, it looked like Roberson would win in a walk. Roberson looked like the stronger, more powerful and more athletic fighter in the first round when he was slamming ground-and-pound on a prone Turman. The UFC debutant turned things around, though. It just wasn’t enough to pick up a victory.

Roberson did just enough, including some hard shots with Turman on his back late in the third, to win via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) in a middleweight bout. Turman had nice moments in the second round and nearly choked Roberson out in the third in what was a very close bout.

Roberson (8-2) bounces back from a light heavyweight loss to Glover Teixeira at UFC Brooklyn in January. The 28-year-old New Jersey native is 2-2 in his past four fights. Turman (15-3), a 22-year-old Brazilian, had a four-fight winning streak snapped.

Marvin Vettori defeated Cezar Ferreira by unanimous decision

Vettori lost valuable time over the past year courtesy of a six-month USADA suspension for a tainted supplement. But he bounced back very nicely here, beating a durable Ferreira by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) and pretty handily.

“If anybody out there is going through something wrong and it doesn’t feel right, keep f—ing going,” said Vettori, who got a reduced suspension for a positive drug test for ostarine.

“I wanted to come out there and make a statement. I’m back.”

Vettori landed big punches throughout. Seemingly every time he blitzed in, the southpaw was able to land hard combinations. Ferreira’s face was busted up by midway through the second round.

Vettori (14-4-1) had not fought since his loss to Israel Adesanya in April 2018. The 25-year-old Italian, who trains out of Kings MMA in California, is unbeaten in nine of his past 11 bouts. Ferreira (13-8), a 34-year-old Brazilian, is on a two-fight losing streak.

John Allan defeated Mike Rodriguez by unanimous decision

Rodriguez might have thrown the harder shots on the feet. But there was no doubt who had the better all-around game here. Allan was able to land on the feet, take Rodriguez down and threaten with multiple submission attempts en route to a unanimous victory (29-28, 29-28, 30-27). Allan sealed the win with a takedown in the third after shrugging off a Rodriguez knee to the head.

Allan (14-5), making his UFC debut, has now won two in a row and six of his past seven. The 26-year-old Brazilian was the biggest underdog on the card (+325). Rodriguez (10-4), a 20-year-old from Massachusetts, has lost two of three.

Andre Fili defeated Sheymon Moraes by first-round knockout

Fili’s UFC career has been filled with starts and stops. Those who see him in the gym at Team Alpha Male have long been waiting for him to make a run that would live up to his huge potential. That stretch might be here now.

Fili knocked out Moraes, allegedly a better striker, at 3:07 of the first round in his adopted hometown of Sacramento. It was Fili’s first TKO/KO win since November 2015. Fili started it off with a wicked, right-hand-high-kick combination. Then, with Moraes rocked, Fili took advantage of a sloppy combination and put Moraes down for good with a right hook.

Fili (20-7) has won two in a row and four of his past five. The 29-year-old, originally from Washington state, has been in the UFC for six years but seems to have now found his rhythm. Moraes (11-4), a 28-year-old Brazilian fighting out of Los Angeles, has lost two straight.

“This sport will always be for kids like us,” the heavily tattooed Fili said. “Outcasts and underdogs — they can never take this from us.”

Julianna Pena defeated Nicco Montano by unanimous decision

For a pair of women who have not fought since 2017, this was a much better fight than it had any right to be.

In a back-and-forth, grappling-heavy bout, Peña bested Montaño, the former UFC women’s flyweight champion, by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-27) in a bantamweight bout. Peña was able to get top position in the second and third rounds, dropping ground and pound and keeping control. Montaño had an excellent first round, taking Peña down and opening up a cut near her ear and a mouse underneath her left eye with elbows and punches.

Peña (9-3) had not fought since falling to Valentina Shevchenko in January 2017. “The Venezuelan Vixen,” who hails from Washington, recovered from injuries and had her first child during that time off. Peña, 29, has won five of her past six fights, all in the UFC. The only loss came against Shevchenko. Peña was the first female Ultimate Fighter winner in 2013.

Montaño (4-3) was coming off a 19-month layoff since beating Roxanne Modafferi to become the first UFC women’s flyweight champion ever in December 2017. The New Mexico native got sick cutting weight before UFC 228 in September 2018 and was subsequently stripped of the belt. Montaño, 30, has now lost two of three, not including her Ultimate Fighter 26 exhibition victories.

Ryan Hall defeated Darren Elkins by unanimous decision

Hall rocked Elkins and dropped him with a spinning back kick to the head. He dropped Elkins twice with a straight left hand in the second round. On the feet, the Brazilian jiu-jitsu master outdid Elkins, and Elkins never followed Hall into his domain, the ground.

Hall, who mixed in spinning kicks with Imanari rolls and dropped to his back often, picked up a unanimous decision win (29-28, 29-28, 30-27). The crowd booed Hall afterward — Elkins calls local Team Alpha Male home — but there was no doubt the grappling savant did more than enough to win. Hall has one of the most unique games in MMA, and it has yet to be figured out in the UFC.

Hall (8-1) has won eight straight, including all four of his fights in the UFC. The 34-year-old Virginia native lost once on The Ultimate Fighter 22 in 2015, but he has not lost an official bout since his pro debut in 2006. Elkins (24-8), a 35-year-old Indiana native, has lost four in a row.

Jonathan Martinez defeated Liu Pingyuan by third-round knockout

More like Mart-knee-nez.

Liu swarmed in with a combination, Martinez took a step forward and threw a straight knee and it landed on the button — Liu was out cold. The knockout finish came at 3:54 of the third round in a very close fight up until that point.

“I pretty much just picked my knee up,” Martinez said. “I just picked it up.”

Martinez (11-2) has won two straight now and four of five. The 25-year-old Texas resident is 2-1 in the UFC. Liu (15-5), a 26-year-old Chinese prospect, had won 10 in a row coming in.

Brianna Van Buren defeated Lívinha Souza by unanimous decision

“The Bull” seems like a future factor in the UFC women’s strawweight division.

Van Buren dominated Souza in a battle of former Invicta FC women’s strawweight champions in a clear unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) victory. Van Buren landed heavy combinations in all three rounds, took Souza down in the third and looked like a well-rounded threat throughout.

Afterward, Van Buren, a Gilroy, California, native, called for a fight on the upcoming UFC card that likely will be in San Francisco in October.

“It would be stupid if you didn’t get me on that card,” Van Buren said. “I want a top-10. I know I’m asking for too much, so if you can give me whoever is willing to step up and fight me, let’s get the ball rolling.”

Van Buren (8-2) was making her debut after winning three fights in one night to become Invicta champion in May. The 25-year-old American Kickboxing Academy product has won five straight. Souza (13-2), the 28-year-old Brazilian, had won four in a row.

Benito Lopez defeated Vince Morales by unanimous decision

Lopez’s strategy was clearly centered on leg kicks. And he executed.

Despite being dropped in the first round and being peppered with combinations, Lopez did enough for a unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) win over Morales in a close bout. According to UFC stats, Lopez landed 36 leg kicks. Morales, meanwhile, out-landed Lopez 34-7 in strikes to the head.

Lopez (10-1) bounced back from a loss to Manny Bermudez in December with this victory. The 25-year-old Team Alpha Male product got chants of “Benito” — as he was the hometown favorite. Morales (9-4), a 28-year-old Oregon native, has lost two of three in the UFC.

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