Canadian fighters took centre stage and legendary fighter Amanda Nunes dominated the main event and then unexpectedly retired during the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s return to Canada at Vancouver’s Rogers Arena on Saturday (June 10).
Canada went a perfect 6-0 on the card, with Ontario’s Mike Malott finishing Adam Fugitt with a spectacular guillotine choke at 1:06 of the second round on the main pay-per-view card to reach the five total.
Malott emerged as a star during fight week, making headlines in the media and drawing comparisons to Canadian stars in the past like Georges St. Pierre (who actually was in attendance on Saturday). He’s now riding a six-fight win streak and and he’s ended all those fights in either the first or second round.
“We really held the fort down,” he said of the Canadian fighters. “That was incredible.”
Malott said he appreciates the comparisons to other great Canadian MMA stars, but that he is his own person and wants to craft his own legacy.
“I don’t want to be the first Georges St. Pierre – I want to be the first Mike Malott,” he said. “I love how I fight and my style but I take so much inspiration from him. I had a GSP poster in my room as a kid and I idolized that man.”
The 31-year-old said he hopes to take some time off, but expects to fight again later this year.
That win followed victories by Quebec’s Marc-Andre Barriault over Eryk Anders (30-27, 30-27 and 30-27), Onatrio’s Jasmine Jasudavicius over Miranda Maverick (29-28, 29-28 and 29-28), Quebec’s Aiemann Zahabi beating Aoriqileng (1:04 of round one by knockout), Ontario’s Kyle Nelson over Blake Bilder (30-27, 30-27 and 29-28) and Ontario’s Diana Belbita over Maria Oliveira by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27 and 29-28).
Nunes dominated challenger Irene Aldana (50-44, 50-44, 50-43) to retain her bantamweight title and then placed both that title and her featherweight title on the mat, ripped off her gloves and announced that she was retiring.
She’s considered by many to be the greatest female mixed martial artist of all time and retires with a record of 23-5. Nunes won 14 of her last 15 bouts and defeated stars such as Ronda Rousey, Cris Cyborg, Shayna Baszler and Valentina Shevchenko over her remarkable career.
The 35-year-old celebrated with friends and family in the ring following the announcement.
She stated that she knew before tonight that this would be her final fight in the UFC. She entered the post fight press conference on crutches and said she has nerve damage in her legs and they were in a lot of pain following the fight. Nunes said she will now go on to training, but wants to stay involved in the sport and will continue watching.
She added that she has no regrets and is satisfied with her career.
“I have so many highlights – the kick against Holly Holm, the fight against Ronda Rousey, the Cyborg fight, tonight was amazing,” she said. “I’m very happy and grateful and everything is ending exactly how I want to.”
The co-main event saw Charles Oliveira take down Beneil Dariush by TKO at 4:10 of the first round. It was a bounce-back win for the Brazilian, who fell to Islam Makachev on Oct. 22, 2022 in his most recent fight. Prior to that setback he had win 11 straight and was the light heavyweight champion.
Other results included:
- Dan Ige over Nate Landwehr by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28 and 30-27)
- Nassourdine Imavov and Chris Curtis – no contest after an accidental clash of heads at 3:04 of round two
- Steve Erceg defeated David Dvorak by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28 and 30-27)
UFC promoter Dana White stated that the live gate was $5.14 million, which sets a new record for a live gate for the promotion in Vancouver. The previous record was $4.22 million for the UFC 115 card back in 2010. The show also drew a crowd of 17,628 – slightly below the 2010 mark of 17,669.
White said that Vancouver and Canada are very important markets for the UFC and he expects more cards to be announced in the country in the near future.
A scary incident occurred during Malott’s entrance, with a railing collapsing. White said no one was seriously hurt and the arena handled it.
Barriault vs Anders was named as the fight of the night, while Oliveira, Malott and Erceg all received $50,000 performance bonuses.
The event marked the first UFC event in Canada since Vancouver hosted Fight Night 158 at Rogers Arena on Sept. 14, 2019.