A much-anticipated and controversial debut, the coronation of a new Welterweight king and a dominant performance by a future Hall of Famer made UFC® 235 the biggest event of the year so far.
With the dust just now settling from a raucous night in Las Vegas, the lens is now focused on the fallout from a landscape-defining event at the T-Mobile Arena. But before we move on too quickly, we're taking a look back at the biggest UFC event of 2019 so far and what it was like for guests of the UFC VIP Experience.
UFC® 235 Recap
There's no other way to put it — the main card of UFC 235 was stacked. The card was highlighted by two title fights at the top and two former champions looking to climb their way back to the top.
Pedro Munhoz def. Cody Garbrandt via KO
The main card started off with a highlight reel showdown between Cody Garbrandt and Pedro Munhoz. After two consecutive knockout defeats to Bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw, Garbrandt was aiming to regain momentum against Munhoz, but fell prey to old habits once again.
The two stood and exchanged in the opening round, but a flurry started after Munhoz seemingly headbutted Garbrandt during the action. Both fighters started swinging wildly following the cranium collision, with Garbrandt even landing a flying knee, but Munhoz was able to clip the former champion with a right hook that sent him to the mat and ended his night.
Weili Zhang def. Tecia Torres via Unanimous Decision
China's female MMA superstar extended her winning streak to 19 with a dominant performance against Strawweight mainstay Tecia Torres. The two women supplied a healthy amount of striking and ground work, but Zhang was able to ultimately bully Torres from the top position to earn the favor of the judges and secure a win against a Top 10 opponent.
Ben Askren def. Robbie Lawler via Submission
No matter what you think about Ben Askren, nobody saw his UFC debut going quite like this.
Within the first 20 seconds of the bout, Robbie Lawler was able to stuff a takedown from Askren and immediately follow it up with an overhead slam that dropped the UFC newcomer directly on his head.
After taking several unanswered shots from Lawler on the ground, Askren was able to compose himself and get back to his feet. From there, he caught Lawler against the cage and was able to work him down to the mat. As Askren went for Lawler's back, he was able to grab a hold of the former champion with a bulldog choke.
When Lawler's arm went down to the mat, referee Herb Dean called a stop to the fight. But as Askren trotted away in celebration, Lawler jumped to his feet exclaiming that he neither submitted nor was unconscious. As everyone in the arena and at home was left confused, the decision was already final.
While the finish was heavily debated and will be for some time, the only reality is that Askren maintained his perfect record and survived a vicious onslaught from a former champion.
Kamaru Usman def. Tyron Woodley (C) via Unanimous Decision
The Welterweight division has a new king.
After a surprising, dominant performance, Kamaru Usman was able to usurp Tyron Woodley to become the first African champion in the UFC's history.
In a battle between competitors known for high level wrestling skill, Usman completely outclassed Woodley for all 25 minutes en route to his first taste of championship gold. Woodley looked frazzled from the get-go, refusing to throw combinations and instead looking for that one go-home punch throughout the night. With every empty attempt, Usman was able to trap Woodley against the cage and get him back down to the mat.
The main highlight of this fight was Usman's relentless work on the core of Woodley. When the two were engaged in the clinch, Usman would waste no time throwing countless body shots in an attempt to wear the champion down.
Two judges scored a round 10-8 in favor of Usman, which likely came in the second round. 'The Nigerian Nightmare' hit Woodley with a clean elbow to the face that altered the course of the round, allowing the contender to maintain dominant top position for over three minutes.
Jon Jones (C) def. Anthony Smith via Unanimous Decision
While the first four fights on the main card provided plenty of drama, the main event put the cherry on top.
The main takeaway is that Jon Jones, the greatest Light Heavyweight in the UFC's 25-year history, dominated contender Anthony Smith for all five rounds. Jones used his eight-and-a-half inch reach advantage to score 238 total strikes throughout the fight, while Smith only landed 45. Of the 238 strikes by Jones, 125 of them were considered significant.
But this fight wasn't just a normal route. In fact, Smith had the opportunity to leave the MGM Grand on Saturday with the belt in his hand.
In the fourth round, Jones was working on a prone Smith who was more so surviving rather than competing at this point. The champion proceeded to throw an illegal knee to his downed opponent that hit Smith square in the temple. The fight was halted as officials came in to check on Smith. If the challenger had been unable to continue, then Jones would have been disqualified and Smith would have been awarded the belt.
However, Smith chose to carry on and Jones was docked two points for the incident. In what had the makings of a history-defining mistake, it turns out that Jones victory only looks a little less dominant on paper.
UFC VIP Experience
The UFC VIP Experience made sure that UFC 235 was an event to remember even beyond the fights. Guests were treated to the ultimate weekend experience, including reserved access to the pre-fight weigh-in, hospitality before the main card, behind the scenes meet-and-greets with fighters and much more.
With an event as big as UFC 235, the biggest and brightest stars in the company made sure to show up. Several fighters came through hospitality to hang out and chat with guests, including Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone and former Women's Bantamweight Champion Holly Holm.
Mic'd Up with Modelo
Guests of the UFC VIP Experience were joined by Marlon Moraes and Michael Chiesa for the live Mic'd Up with Modelo Q&A session. The fighters spoke on their recent performances — Moraes submitted Raphael Assunção last month and Chiesa is coming off of a submission victory against Carlos Condit at UFC 232 — and their hopes for who they'd like to face down the line.
Afterwards the fighters stayed around the take photos with the guests in attendance.
The Octagon® Experience
After the main event concluded, our guests were taken down to The Octagon® for the official tour. They walked around and took in the energy from being inside of the most recognizable combat sports structures in the world, while also checking the mat for remnants of a full night of fights. After the initial rush of stepping in the cage set in, our guests took their chance to grab a photo to create a lifelong memory.
Be A VIP at UFC 236
On April 13 in Atlanta, Georgia, the Lightweight division takes a step forward when Featherweight champion Max Holloway and Dustin Poirier battle for the Interim Lightweight Championship. In the co-main event, Middleweight contenders Kelvin Gastelum and Israel Adesanya face off for the Interim Middleweight Championship.
These two title fights make up a UFC 236 event that you will not want to miss. You can secure your Official Ticket Package to UFC 236 right now with the UFC VIP Experience. As the official package provider of the UFC, the UFC VIP Experience offers pre-fight hospitality access, behind-the-scenes access, reserved seats at pre-fight weigh-ins and much more. To get an experience like our guests had at UFC 235, click below: