With another action-packed month of MMA in the books, MMA Junkie looks at the best fights from June 2019: Here are the five nominees, listed in chronological order, and winner of MMA Junkie’s “Fight of the Month” award for June.
At the bottom of the post, let us know if we got it right by voting on your choice.
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Aljamain Sterling def. Pedro Munhoz at UFC 238
In one of his most masterful performances to date, Aljamain Sterling (18-3 MMA, 10-3 UFC) outsmarted Pedro Munhoz (18-4 MMA, 8-4 UFC) and staked his claim to a title shot. Sterling didn’t shoot, but stood with Munhoz and surprised him with an unconventional attack that set up a sweep on the judges’ scorecards
The final tally was 30-27 thrice for Sterling, who picked up his third straight win in a key matchup. Munhoz had an argument for a title shot with a brutal knockout of Cody Garbrandt in his previous performance, and all that momentum went the opposite direction.
Tony Ferguson def. Donald Cerrone at UFC 238
In a bout that seemed to live up to the fans’ expectations for a firefight, Tony Ferguson (25-3 MMA, 15-1 UFC) beat Donald Cerrone (36-12 MMA, 23-9 UFC) in what could have went down as an all-time classic – before it was halted for a cut.
Referee Dan Miragliotta waved off the fight in between the second and third rounds after doctors looked at Cerrone’s swollen right eye. Ferguson got the TKO win over Cerrone, and the fans booed what they deemed a disappointing end to a thrilling slugfest.
Henry Cejudo def. Marlon Moraes at UFC 238
Cejudo, who came into the event as flyweight champ, became the fourth simultaneous two-division titleholder in company history with a third-round TKO victory over Moraes to claim the 135-pound strap.
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Rory MacDonald def. Neiman Gracie at Bellator 222
For someone who sounded like he had one foot out the door after his last fight, Rory MacDonald (21-5-1 MMA, 3-1-1 BMMA) sure looked like someone who still has his heart into fighting when he defended his Bellator welterweight title against Neiman Gracie (9-1 MMA, 7-1 BMMA).
MacDonald, who pondered retirement after his draw with Jon Fitch at Bellator 220, looked sharp in his welterweight grand prix semifinal with Gracie. Taking on a game opponent, MacDonald’s all-around game and MMA experience was too much for his jiu-jitsu based foe in a unanimous decision triumph.
Deron Winn def. Eric Spicely at UFC on ESPN+ 12
It took multiple opponent changes to finally get in the octagon for his UFC debut, but when he title, undefeated newcomer Deron Winn (6-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) delivered a historic performance in his middleweight matchup with Eric Spicely (12-5 MMA, 2-5 UFC).
Winn set a new single-fight record for most significant strikes landed in 185-pound fight when he connected with 169 on Spicely in unanimous decision victory that also led to “Fight of the Night” honors.
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The Winner: Henry Cejudo vs. Marlon Moraes
Just when it looked like Moraes may have found Cejudo’s Kryptonite, Cejudo turned the tide and made UFC history.
Cejudo, already the UFC’s flyweight champion, now is the bantamweight champ, as well, after a third-round TKO of Moraes in a fight for a belt vacated by the now drug-suspended T.J. Dillashaw.
Cejudo got the stoppage at the 4:51 mark of the middle frame after a barrage of punches and elbows on the canvas right in front of Moraes’ corner. Cejudo now is the fourth fighter in UFC history to hold two titles at the same time, joining Conor McGregor, Daniel Cormier and Amanda Nunes.
Moraes kicked Cejudo’s left leg immediately, then went high with a kick moments later. Cejudo tried his own high kick, but Moraes easily slid out of the way. After a Cejudo kick, the two got into a brief firefight, then two more moments later. Moraes again went after Cejudo’s lead leg with a kick, but Cejudo stayed on his feet.
A little past two minutes in, Cejudo went for his first takedown and briefly had Moraes on the canvas. Back on the feet, Cejudo kicked high, then tried to follow it with several punches before Moraes countered. With a minute left, Moraes kicked to the body, then with 30 seconds left again attacked Cejudo’s down low.
The swinging continued from both fighters in the second. A spinning kick from Moraes was met with a right hand from Cejudo when he missed. But then Moraes went right back to attacking Cejudo’s legs. If Cejudo changed stances, Moraes just went after a different leg than the one he went after before.
Moraes briefly knocked Cejudo off his feet with two minutes left, and then the two started swinging again. They both landed and Cejudo tried to find some momentum with jabs. Moraes landed an uppercut, then ate a knee. But he answered with a head kick before backing up looking plenty wobbled. Cejudo continued to fire the jabs, and when Moraes clinched him up, Cejudo pounded his body.
With 30 seconds left Cejudo grabbed a Thai plum and landed three big knees. Somehow, Moraes stayed on his feet. They kept swinging down the stretch, but Cejudo rallied big time at the end of the frame with the knee onslaught.
Ninety-seconds into the third, Cejudo tried to take Moraes down. When he popped back up, Cejudo again went after knees. When they tied up and went to the canvas again, Cejudo latched onto a choke that Moraes was able to roll out of. Moraes then kept himself grounded to avoid taking any knees to the head from Cejudo, but Cejudo instead pushed him to his back and landed several big punches.
Elbows followed with a minute left and Moraes in survival mode. Cejudo kept pounding away with punches and elbows, and did so more furiously when the 10-second clapper went off. With just a few seconds left, he got the TKO stoppage.