Recap: An Epic Knockout Steals the Show at UFC 300

The UFC celebrated milestone tonight as UFC 300 emanated from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The energy was electric right from the beginning and the main card provided some truly unforgettable moments, including one that absolutely stole the show.

Let’s take a look at some of the highlights of the night and break down the three fights we looked at in our UFC 300 preview.

Prelim Highlights

It’s hard to imagine a better UFC debut that the one Kayla Harrison had tonight against Holly Holm. A two-time Olympic gold medalist in Judo, it was clear to everyone Harrison would have the grappling and power advantage in this bout against the former champion. And yet, Holm, a prolific striker, chose to clinch with Harrison. And while Holm scored an early reversal, it was Harrison who eventually scored the takedown and got to a dominant position. She ground-and-pounded her way to a one-sided first round and got right back to work in the second. Once again in a dominant position, it didn’t take Harrison long to lock in a choke and score a submission victory. It was a dominant performance that culminated in Harrison saying she will be a UFC champion by the end of the year. After this showing, it’s hard to argue with her.

And speaking of successful debuts, former Bantamweight Champion Aljamain Sterling made his featherweight debut tonight against Calvin Kattar. The former champ figured to have a significant grappling advantage against the striker and he proved that to be true very early. Sterling neutralized Kattar’s striking game with constant pressure and a number of takedowns. He showed more dominance on the ground and each round brought more of the same until the final bell. It was a dominant decision victory for the new featherweight contender who should be set up for another big fight his next time out.

The featured prelim certainly accomplished the task of getting fans fired up for the main card. Light heavyweight contenders Jiri Prochazka and Aleksandar Rakic put on an absolute show in their bout. Rakic appeared early on to be the much cleaner striker, picking apart the legs of his opponent and throwing the much more technical punches. Prochazka’s legs were clearly hurt as he did not have the same mobility that typically allows him to throw his signature dynamic strikes. However, at some point late in the first, he turned a corner and simply seemed to decide to throw caution to the wind and ignore all pain. He landed a few big shots to steal the momentum before the second round. He picked up right where he left off in the second, going blow for blow with Rakic. Both guys landed some huge shots but it was Rakic who was the first to get hurt. Prochazka pounced and kept pouring on the pressure until he secured the knockout victory. It was a great showing for both guys but in the end, it’s Prochazka, the former champion, who gets the chance to call for a title shot.

Main Card Highlights

One of the hottest prospect in UFC history, Bo Nickal opened up the main card with a very strong performance against Cody Brundage. A huge underdog, Brundage tried to give himself an opportunity to win by coming out with some big strikes to start things off. He even landed a good shot that seemed to hurt Nickal at least a bit, but Nickal went right to his wrestling where he dominated the rest of the round. The second almost immediately brought more of the same as Nickal continued to showcase his incredible grappling skills and scored another big takedown and eventually a submission victory. Despite this being the first time in his young career he saw a second round, and the fact that he gave himself a big thumbs down after finishing the fight, it was another dominant performance for a guy who seems destined for a UFC title.

It was a world-class lightweight showdown between former champion Charles Oliveira and Arman Tsarukyan. Early on, Oliveira jump on a guillotine choke and it looked like this fight might be over quickly. Amazingly, Tsarukyan escaped the choke and later the mount from the Brazilian jiu jitsu black belt and found himself in top position, where he maintained control. The second round saw some grappling dominance from Tsarukyan, who scored another big takedown and landed some strong ground and pound. In the third, after some good striking exchanges, Tsarukyan wound up on top again. This time though, Oliveira escaped and locked in another choke. It looked very tight but Tsarukyan managed to last until the final bell and take a split decision victory. Afterwards, he called for a rematch with now lightweight champion Islam Makhachev.

Max Holloway def. Justin Gaethje

The UFC has had no shortage of unforgettable moments over the last 300 pay-per-view events. These two men undoubtedly delivered one tonight that jumps right up to the top of the list. The story of this fight was determined in the closing seconds of the first round when Holloway landed an impressive spinning back kick that broke the nose of Gaethje. That impacted the breathing and the mindset of the former champ going forward and Holloway took advantage. Holloway put on a striking clinic for most of the fight, literally beating Gaethje to the punch and making him fight on his heels. In the fourth round though, Gaethje landed a big right that dropped Holloway and gave him his best opportunity to steal this fight. Holloway survived to the bell though and we were heading to a fifth and final round. Holloway poured it on again and seemed to be heading to a dominant decision victory. However, with just 10 seconds left, Holloway pointed to the center of the octagon floor and called for Gaethje to engage him to put on a show for the fans. Gaethje obliged and the two started winging punches, with Gaethje connecting big first. Holloway powered through it though and in the literal final second of the fight, he landed a huge overhand right that instantly slept Gaethje and shocked everyone watching. It was an absolutely insane risk for Holloway to engage in the closing seconds like that, but it paid off in a big way. Not only did he still win the fight but he scored a huge knockout and earned himself what will surely be one of the most memorable moments in UFC history. Afterwards, he called for a championship fight in either the lightweight or featherweight division, and after this performance, the UFC should give him whatever he wants.

My Pick: Gaethje via 3rd round knockout

Result: Holloway via 5th round knockout

Zhang Weili def. Yan Xiaonan

What a wild championship fight this was. The challenger Xiaonan seemed to have the advantage in the striking game early, with the longer reach allowing her to keep the champ at range. However, Weili proved quickly to have a very significant grappling advantage and was able to lock in a very deep choke. With the clock ticking down, Xiaonan toughed it out and made it to the end of the round safely. Or at least, that’s what we thought. But when Weili released the choke, Xiaonan was very clearly completely unconscious. She quickly came to but seemingly had no idea where she was. Her corner did a great job of clearing her head and getting her ready to fight and, amazingly, the fight continued. Weili went right back to the grappling though and dominated the second round, almost ending the fight with ground and pound. And then things got really crazy in the third round. Xiaonan was able to work her striking advantage and dropped Weili in a dominant round. The fourth saw more of the same, though Weili was able to get back to her grappling a bit and we had ourselves a close fight going into the final round. With it all on the line though, the champ came through. The difference in the grappling games of these two fighters proved to be the deciding factor and Weili went on to retain her championship by a unanimous decision. She may have won this fight three different times tonight, but Xiaonan showed some amazing toughness.

My Pick: Weili via 4th round knockout

Result: Weili via decision

Alex Pereira def. Jamahal Hill

There was an energy around this main event that made it feel as though we were about to see something special. The current champ Pereira defending his title against the former champ, Hill, who never lost the belt. Both guys are knockout artists who can end a fight in a hurry, so it figured to be a very fun fight likely to end with a highlight. Well, it took only a few minutes for that to come true. These two guys stood and tried to get a feel for each other’s striking games. They traded a few shots but neither appeared to be affected too much by anything. Hill landed a shot to Pereira’s cup and referee Herb Dean began to step in to call time, but Pereira brushed him off. Maybe three seconds later, Pereira landed a short left hook that seemed like a glancing blow, but it dropped Hill. Pereira pounced and, after a few more shots, the fight was over. While the energy was pointing to something special, this felt incredibly casual out of the champion. Even his response to his own handiwork, which can be seen below, was almost to say “yeah, this is what I do.” Pereira possesses just a different kind of power that apparently doesn’t show up on camera, but it certainly put Jamahal Hill away quickly. After the fight, Pereira said he was not hurt at all and he wants to fight at heavyweight in Brazil in just a few weeks. We’ll see if the UFC is willing to let that happen.

My Pick: Hill via 4th round knockout

Result: Pereira via 1st round knockout

The UFC will return to ESPN+ on Saturday, April 27 for UFC Fight Night: Nicolau vs Tybura. Be sure to check back for a preview of the event.

Mike Mack
Mack is the Editorial Director for Marvel and ESPN content and he has covered comic cons, theme park events, video game showcases and other fun events. He is a fan of theme parks, sports, movies, Marvel Comics and is a self-proclaimed "nerd."