For the first time ever, the Ultimate Fighting Championship came to Pepsi Center for UFC on Fox 23 on Jan. 28. In the card’s main event, No. 1 ranked women’s bantamweight Valentina Shevchenko defeated No. 2 ranked Julia Pena via armbar in the second round, earning herself a title shot against the bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes.
The fight opened up with Peña walking down her opponent and pinning her against the cage holding true to her game plan.
Shevchenko was able to land a beautiful takedown off a knee to the body thrown by Peña. Peña eventually got back to her feet, but was taken down by Shevchenko in the same manner later in the round.
In the second round, Peña scored a takedown of her own after many failed attempts, but was ultimately submitted by Shevchenko with 30 seconds remaining in the round. Now on a two fight win streak, Shevchenko will face the only woman to defeat her in the UFC, champion Amanda Nuñes.
In the card’s co-main event, No. 5 ranked welterweight and hometown hero Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone was dismantled by No. 12 ranked Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal. Cowboy was favored coming into the fight, but Masvidal was able to use his superior boxing to finish Cowboy at the beginning of the second round, making a statement in his division.
Another huge bout featured on the card was a heavyweight clash between UFC veteran Andrei “The Pit Bull” Arlovski and rising star Francis “The Predator” Ngannou. As many people expected, the fight didn’t last long. Ngannou caught Arlovski with a clean right hook, ending the fight in the first round.
Denver was blessed with a great card provided by the UFC from beginning to end. The main-card opened up with a featherweight bout between two of the best strikers in the division. Jason “Mississippi Mean” Knight met Alex “Bruce Lee Roy” Caceres. They exchanged combinations in the first round, but Knight stole the round with a late takedown. He was able to score another takedown early in the second round, ultimately ending the fight via rear naked choke.
The UFC broke its 2017 attendance record with 13,233 fans filling the Pepsi Center. They also topped $1 million at the gate and eight of the 12 fights ended in finishes.