FIGHT FOR SUPERMODEL WEIGHTS: GILBERT BURNS VS. KHAMZAT SHIMAEV – 11:38 p.m. ET
For the first time in his career, Khamzat Chimaev entered in the third round. And Gilbert Burns made him fight like he never had before.
Chimaev (11-0) passed the test in an outrageously gripping fight, winning by unanimous decision. Defeating Burns (20-5), who was seeded second in the division, is a massive achievement for Chimaev.
The opening pace of the fight was explosive, with shots landing by both fighters. The tide turned in the final moments when Chimaev dropped Burns with a forehand, followed by a vicious right elbow to the forehead that split it open. Still, Burns survived the onslaught, then damaged Chimaev in round two. Two right hands from Burns ended the second round, and it was remarkable that those shots didn’t knock Chimaev out.
The third-round advantage belonged to Chimaev, but he was close. So this fight ending in a unanimous decision seems awfully hard to believe, especially since Burns won the second round in unbalanced fashion.
Chimaev had to endure a lot of punishment, and his hype train is definitely taking a hit because of it. He retains his undefeated record, but Burns made him look like a mortal. It’s especially bad news for Chimaev if he steps into the cage against Kamaru Usman, who knocked out Burns in their title fight last year.
WOMEN’S STRAWWEIGHT FIGHT: TECIA TORRES VS. MACKENZIE LAST – 11:02 p.m. ET
Mackenzie Dern defeated Tecia Torres by split decision in a tightly contested bout, doing just enough in the first two rounds to secure victory.
This fight was extremely compelling, especially in the second round. Torres (13–6) never finished as an MMA pro, although that nearly changed in the second round when Dern (12–2) applied his kimura. Torres was in a bad place for most of the second round, but found new life in the third after landing a kick to the face from Dern.
Coming off of a loss, it was a win Dern desperately needed to stay in the top five of the strawweight division. She has now won five of her last six matches and she will have a top five opponent in her next fight. Torres’ three-game winning streak is now broken, but after struggling against elite opponents – losing to Rose Namajunas, Zhang Weili, Joanna Jędrzejczyk and Marina Rodriguez – it was a fine performance, even despite the loss.
LIGHTWEIGHT FIGHT: VINC PICHEL VS. MARK MADSEN – 10:24 p.m. ET
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Mark Madsen kept his zero.
Madsen (12-0) beat Vinc Pichel by unanimous decision, overcoming a tough challenge by dominating the third round with over four minutes of ground control.
It was a fight that was there for Pichel (14–3), who came into the fight having won three in a row and seven of his last eight. But after a particularly strong second round, working the body and even knocking Madsen down, he couldn’t capitalize on that momentum in the third and final round.
Madsen is not flashy in the cage. At 37, he is older than most other rising stars. But his success in the cage cannot be denied, and he is in position to fight a ranked opponent in his next fight.
UFC 273 is built around three fights, including the main event of Alexander Volkanovski defending his featherweight title against Chan Sung Jung, better known as the Korean Zombie.
In a way, it’s the least expected of the first three games. The card also features a bantamweight unification title fight pitting Aljamain Sterling against Petr Yan. This fight features an unprecedented backstory, as Yan intentionally injured Sterling in their last fight and showed no remorse for nearly ending his career. Sterling hasn’t set foot in the Octagon since that vicious knee from Yan in March 2021, and he’s been patiently waiting for that chance at redemption.
But the fight with the most intrigue will be the penultimate, with Khamzat Chimaev looking to continue to fight his way through the UFC’s welterweight division. A dominant victory could elevate him in title contention, even bypassing Leon Edwards on his way to a title match against defending champ Kamaru Usman. Gilbert Burns, a top talent who ranks among the best in the division, stands in Chimaev’s way.
Burns doesn’t intend to simply serve as a stepping stone for Chimaev. It’s the toughest test for Chimaev in his career, making it a must-attend encounter.
The top three fights of UFC 273 have the potential to make this card spectacular.
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