Charlotte-based fighter Bryan Battle stole the show during UFC’s return to the Queen City on Saturday at Spectrum Center.
Battle’s entrance felt more like that of a main event despite being just the second fight of the day. A record crowd was on its feet as the 26-year-old made his way to the Octagon. Just 14 seconds into the fight, Battled scored the sixth-fastest knockout in UFC history to make quick work of opponent Gabe Green.
“I was made in Charlotte,” Battle said. “I was never going to lose in Charlotte.”
Green came out firing, throwing a frenzy of punches and backing Battle against the cage as soon as the action began. Battle responded with an emphatic right hook, knocking Green to the canvas and scoring the third knockout of his career.
Green’s fast start caught Battle by surprise, but he was able to maintain his composure and land a ground-breaking strike for the ninth win of his UFC career.
“He normally doesn’t come out that aggressive, so it caught me off guard,” Battle said. “(I) kept my stance, kept my posture and just kept firing. That’s a tough dude right there.”
With 18,712 fans on hand, the event was the highest-attended UFC Fight Night in the country.
Battle fights for Team Hayastan MMA Charlotte and has called the Queen City home for years.
“I’ve been in Charlotte since I was 11 years old. It’s a part of me,” the Matthews-born fighter said. “There are so many great friends and family here. This is where I met my wife, where I had my first child.
“On a fighter front, there have been so many amazing fighters out of Charlotte who came before me and never really got a fair shake,” Battle continued. “As a fighter, I’ve been built up on the hopes and dreams of the fighters that came before me.”
UFC president Dana White said Battle would receive a $50,000 bonus for his performance despite missing weight for his fight. Typically, a fighter who misses weight is not eligible for post-fight bonuses.
Finishing a fight in near-record time was special for Battle, but the months of training involved make such a quick result just a little bittersweet.
“We worked on so many things and we had a whole playbook,” he said. “One of the best parts of having a longer fight is you can go on the tape and see where you did things wrong and how to build on it. I was prepared to go all 15 minutes because Gabe is such a tough guy. But with that said, I don’t think anyone is ever going to come at me with their hands down ever again.”
Jairzinho Rozenstruik vs. Jailton Almeida
Almeida needed just one round to win the first main event of his undefeated UFC career.
Despite being slated for a five-round bout, Almeida forced Rozenstruik to submit in just 3 minutes, 43 seconds to conclude the card. As soon as the fight began, Almeida dove at Rozenstruik’s legs for a take down, proving to be just the start of what was to come.
Rozenstruik failed to block Almeida’s second takedown attempt seconds later, and although the Charlotte crowd wasn’t overjoyed, that’s Almeida’s style. The methodical approach paid off, as Almeida began firing off hammer-fists, forcing Rozenstruik to roll onto his side and giving Alemida the position needed to lock in the rear naked choke.
Seconds after, Rozenstruik submitted and Almeida scored the 19th victory of his MMA career, fifth in the UFC.
According to UFC’s official statistics, Rozenstruik attempted only two significant strikes in the first round and was unable to land either one. Prior to the fight, Almeida promised he would finish Rozenstruik, and he kept his promise.
“I don’t want to leave it to the judges. It won’t happen. As a fighter, Jairzinho is a very dangerous guy, but I’m sure I’ll be able to impose my game,” he said.
Through five fights in his UFC career, Almeida has been hit with just two significant strikes and has finished all five opponents. “I get beat way more during training than in the fights,” Almeida said jokingly.
White, the UFC president, was thrilled with Almeida’s performance following the main event.
“When we were looking to make a main event for this card, that’s why we picked these two. This guy looks like he’s going to be a star in the heavyweight division. I have a lot of high hopes for this kid, he’s going to be something special,” White said of Almeida.
Johnny Walker vs. Anthony Smith
Johnny Walker’s athleticism stole the show as he earned the first Top-5 victory of his career. With Anthony Smith coming off a gruesome leg injury sustained at UFC 277 in 2022, it was clear that Walker intended to test the leg early and often.
Walker’s plan of attack was critical — rendering Smith helpless late in the fight with a series of calf kicks and jumping knees — one of which connected in the third and final round, drawing blood from Smith’s ear.
While it was clear that Walker was running away with the victory, he kept his distance and avoided any last-minute mistakes to score his third victory in a row. “Walker didn’t really wow anybody but he won,” White said.
The judges scored the fight a unanimous decision 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28, in favor of the Brazilian.
“I want to prove myself,” Walker said. “I don’t want to finish him quickly. Because if I beat him too quickly, there’s no joy.”
As soon as the buzzer sounded, Walker leaped out of the cage and made his way to the crowd to shake hands with former opponent and UFC light heavyweight champion Jamahal Hill, who was sitting in the first row.
“He’s the champ,” Walker said of Hill. “I said … I’ll see you at the top, I’m coming.”
Heavyweight: No. 12 Jailton Almeida (19-2) capped off the evening by beating No. 9 Jairzinho Rozenstruik (13-5) by submission in the first round.
Light heavyweight: No. 7 Johnny Walker (21-7) got the best of No. 5 Anthony Smith (36-18), winning by unanimous decision. Walker will jump into the Top 5 of light heavyweight with the victory. Smith is reportedly considering retirement, according to White.
Welterweight: Ian Machado Garry (12-0) continued his rise, knocking No. 15 Daniel Rodriguez (17-4) out with a vicious head kick to jump into the Top 15 in welterweight.
Light heavyweight: Carlos Ulberg (8-1) defeated Ihor Potieria (19-4) by TKO in just 2:09.
Welterweight: Alex Morono (23-8) beat Tim Means (32-15-1) by submission midway through the second round.
Welterweight: Matt Brown (24-19) knocked out Court McGee (21-12) to tie Derrick Lewis’ UFC-best record of 13 knockouts.
Heavyweight: Karl Williams (9-1) defeated Chase Sherman (16-12) by unanimous decision.
Bantamweight: Douglas Silva de Andrade (29-5) outlasted Cody Stamann (21-6-1), winning by unanimous decision.
Women’s flyweight: Mandy Böhm (8-2) defeated Ji Yeon Kim (9-7-2) by split decision.
Welterweight: Bryan Battle (9-2) knocked out Gabe Green (11-5) in just 14 seconds.
Women’s bantamweight: Tainara Lisboa (6-2) and Jessica Rose-Clark (11-9) nearly went the distance, with Lisboa scoring the win via submission with 40 seconds remaining.
Lightweight: Natan Levy (8-1) vs. Pete Rodriguez (5-1) was dropped from the card with weight management issues on Rodriguez’s end, the UFC announced.