UFC Sacramento: Germaine de Randamie, Urijah Faber end the night in explosive fashion

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Between the return of Urijah Faber, crucial wins for unheralded contenders and a potential title eliminator in the women’s bantamweight division, it was an interesting night of action in California.

UFC Sacramento: Germaine de Randamie, Urijah Faber end the night in explosive fashion

Between the return of Urijah Faber, crucial wins for unheralded contenders and a potential title eliminator in the women’s bantamweight division, it was an interesting night of action in California.

The last time the UFC ventured to the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, Calif., the home of the NBA’s Kings was relatively new and Urijah Faber was bidding the sport farewell, locking up with Brad Pickett in his retirement fight in front of a partisan home crowd.

Two and a half years later, the UFC was back in the state capital, and while some things have changed, others remain the same.

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The venue is still considered one of the most impressive in The Association, while the Kings have taken major steps forward to become one of the league's most intriguing squads. And just like last time the UFC blew through town, Faber was in the cage, after coming out of retirement a few months after turning 40 and becoming a father.

Here’s a look at what transpired Saturday evening and the impact those results will have going forward:

Germaine de Randamie stops Aspen Ladd in 16 seconds

De Randamie showed why she remains a serious threat in the bantamweight division, bouncing Ladd from the ranks of the unbeaten to close out the UFC’s return to Sacramento.

As Ladd pressed forward, de Randamie fired a counter right hand that landed flush. Ladd fell to all fours. De Randamie then looked to uncork a follow-up left, but referee Herb Dean stepped in and stopped the fight.

What it means: What it should mean is that de Randamie gets a chance to avenge her lone UFC loss to date in a bantamweight title fight with Amanda Nunes later this year. Both just had quick finishes, no one else is in position to challenge “The Lioness” at 135, and it would be an absolute firefight for as long as it lasts, but . . .

What it probably means is that de Randamie will get booked against Ketlen Vieira once she's cleared to return and the unpopular former featherweight champion will have to keep running the gauntlet to get another championship opportunity after how things went following her featherweight title win two years ago.

It was a rough outing for Ladd, but ultimately, it will probably prove to be beneficial to her long-term development. She'll have time to keep improving, and she didn’t catch a bunch of follow-up hammers.

She handled things the right way following the loss and she has a ton of potential, but it's clear there are areas of her game that still need work. There is no reason to hustle her into increasingly dangerous matchups with opponents who are exponentially more experienced.

Urijah Faber returns with a bang, stops Ricky Simon in under a minute

I think most people had the same feeling I did heading into Saturday’s co-main event: Faber’s walkout is going to be awesome, but the 40-year-old will be stepping in with a surging, young prospect and the night could go really, really poorly.

The walkout was great, as expected, but after getting touched up in one of the first exchanges, Faber hit Simon with an overhand right that took out his feet. From there, "The California Kid" swarmed. Referee Mike Beltran quickly jumped in and halted the action, giving the returning Hall of Famer the fastest finish of his career.

What it means: If I say, "Nothing good," are people going to think I’m a hater?

Here’s the thing: It was a terrific moment for Faber — to come out of retirement and score a win like that at home was electric — but now what? Henry Cejudo called him out by name six weeks ago, Faber said after his victory that he was down, and the rest of the division surely let out a collective groan because it could happen, even though it has no business happening.

When I spoke with Faber before the bout, he said he was interested in big fights, and that is surely a big fight, but even he wasn’t talking about a title fight at the time. It’s a possibility because, of course it is, but it’s one of those contests that will only cause more chaos if it’s booked.

This is a rough result for Simon, who had won three straight to build momentum and creep into the bantamweight rankings. It’s not the end of the world by any stretch and no one would have limited the bump he would have gotten had he been victorious, but this feels like a bit of a wasted loss for a talented, emerging fighter. Faber is closer to being a mercenary than a permanent member of the roster.

Josh Emmett blasts Mirsad Bektic, remains unbeaten at home

Emmett and Bektic spent the first three minutes and change standing in front of each other, slinging heavy leather with designs on creating an opportunity to finish. Late in the opening frame, Emmett stuck Bektic with a stiff jab; from there, he pounced, pounding out the finish to remain undefeated while fighting in Sacramento.

What it means: Not a lot of people were talking about this fight going in, but it was a crucial one in the featherweight division and a massive performance for the 34-year-old Emmett, who is now 4-1 in the UFC at 145 pounds and the owner of back-to-back stoppage wins.

Emmett felt he was close to contention prior to his crushing loss to Jeremy Stephens in February 2018, and his last two victories should carry him back into a similar position. He's one of the more powerful fighters in the division and has wrestling skills to fall back on if needed, which makes him a tough out for anyone in the top 10.

Featherweight is heating up and tons of quality matchups that could work for Emmett going forward, including bouts against Yair Rodriguez, Chan Sung Jung or Zabit Magomedsharipov.

As for Bektic, he’s now 0-2 against Team Alpha Male and undefeated against everyone else. He was more than holding his own through the early going and he remains a top-15 fighter in the division, but he once again has to hit the reset button and find a way to close the holes in his striking defense to make another push toward the top of the division.

Karl Roberson squeaks out split-decision victory over newcomer Wellington Turman

Roberson was originally scheduled to face John Phillips, but an injury sidelined the Welshman and opened the door for the 22-year-old Turman, who came ever so close to walking away from his UFC debut with a victory.

After a strong start on the feet, Roberson got sucked into a grappling match with Turman. At various points, the Brazilian advanced to dominant positions and threatened with submissions, forcing Roberson to defend. While he was unable to secure the finish, it seemed as though Turman was on his way to stealing the win, but Roberson reversed positions and popped the debutant with a big right hand just before the horn.

What it means: Honestly, the biggest takeaway from this fight was that Turman has solid upside and is someone to keep an eye on. Roberson may have gotten the victory, but it was ultra-close and you have to wonder how things would have played out if Turman had more than a month to prepare for his UFC debut.

Roberson is a dangerous, explosive striker, but he has yet to figure out how to just play to his strengths and avoid troublesome spots, something that nearly cost him Saturday. He’ll need to sort that out if he wants to make headway in the division. Turman, meanwhile, should hold his head high after this one.

Marvin Vettori returns to outwork Cezar Ferreira

Fighting for the first time in more than 400 days, Vettori snapped a two-fight winless skid, registering his first victory in two years by outworking former "TUF: Brazil" winner in the main-card opener.

The 25-year-old Italian, who went the distance in a split-decision loss to current interim champ Israel Adesanya last time out, started quickly and maintained his lead throughout, busting up Ferreira’s nose in the first before continuing to touch up "Mutante" throughout.

What it means: This is a crucial victory for Vettori, who has always been considered a quality prospect but who seemed to stall out after a very good start to his UFC career. Ferreira may not be a contender but he has beaten some talented opponents, and Vettori never gave him a chance to find his footing and mount any real offense.

"The Italian Dream" is brimming with confidence and is just entering his athletic prime, so his best days should, in theory, be ahead of him. He showed strong takedown defense on Saturday and clean, crisp hands, though his gas tank continues to be a concern as he slowed noticeably down the stretch.

He called for a fight with Paulo Costa, but "Borrachina" is otherwise engaged and, quite frankly, out of his league at this point. That said, you have to appreciate the moxie, and a performance like this one should elevate him toward the top 15 and a tougher matchup later this year.

UFC Sacramento official results

Germaine de Randamie def. Aspen Ladd by KO (right hand) at 0:16 of Round 1
Urijah Faber def. Ricky Simon by KO (strikes) at 0:46 of Round 1
Josh Emmett def. Mirsad Bektic by TKO (strikes) at 4:25 of Round 1
Karl Roberson def. Wellington Turman by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Marvin Vettori def. Cezar Ferreira by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
John Allan def. Mike Rodriguez by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Andre Fili def. Sheymon Moraes by TKO (strikes) at 3:07 of Round 1
Juliana Pena def. Nicco Montano by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 29-28)
Ryan Hall def. Darren Elkins by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Jonathan Martinez def. Pingyuan Liu by KO (knee) at 3:54 of Round 3
Brianna Van Buren def. Livia Renata Souza by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Benito Lopez def. Vince Morales by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)










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