UFC’s First ESPN+ Event Draws Solid Gate and Attendance

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UFC’s First ESPN+ Event Draws Solid Gate and Attendance

The Ultimate Fighting Championship made its official ESPN debut on Saturday with UFC Fight Night: Cejudo vs. Dillashaw

Headlined by a champion vs. champion superfight between flyweight titleholder Henry Cejudo and bantamweight champ TJ Dillashaw, the event was a solid draw for the mixed martial arts juggernaut’s opening performance in partnership with The Worldwide Leader in Sports.

UFC on ESPN+ 1 took place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., where 12,152 showed up for what could still be the final title fight in the 125-pound division. UFC president Dana White still had no answer about the flyweight division’s future at the post fight press conference.

Even headlined by a division that is notorious for its lack of drawing power, the crowd that turned out for the flyweight title fight amassed gate receipts of $1.23 million.

If the flyweight division fades into oblivion following the event in Brooklyn, it won’t have been for a lack of its fighters trying feverishly to save it.

Cejudo ignited the arena with a stunning performance in the main event. Not only did he keep Dillashaw from becoming the first UFC fight to go down a weight class and become a two-division simultaneous champion, he did so in 32 seconds.

Though there was some questioning of the main event being stopped early, there was no doubt that Cejudo rocked Dillashaw from the bell and was laying into him as the fight was stopped.

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In a second flyweight bout on the card, perennial contender Joseph Benavidez had a hard-fought rematch with Dustin Ortiz. He couldn’t find the finish, but after a back-and-forth battle, Benavidez walked away with a unanimous decision victory over Ortiz.

White is still left to ponder whether or not the UFC flyweight division has a future, but now that the ESPN era has launched, he can get back to the business of figuring it out. 

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