UFC will hold its final event of 2023 in the Fight Capital of the World, headlined by a highly anticipated welterweight championship bout that will see Leon Edwards defend against No. 2 ranked contender Colby Covington. Also, newly crowned flyweight champion Alexandre Pantoja makes his first title defense when he rematches No. 4 ranked contender Brandon Royval.
UFC 296: EDWARDS vs. COVINGTON takes place Saturday, Dec. 16 at T-Mobile Arena with the main card at 10pm ET/7pm PT on ESPN+ PPV. The prelims will be available on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes, as well as simulcast in English and Spanish on ESPN+, at 8pm ET/5pm PT. The early prelims will kick off at 6:30pm ET/3:30pm PT on ESPN+ and UFC Fight Pass with the action also continuing on ESPN2 at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Main and co-main event scheduled for five rounds, all other bouts scheduled for three rounds.| Official Scorecards
UFC 296: Edwards vs Covington Results
- Alexandre Pantoja defeats Brandon Royval by unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 49-46)
- Shavkat Rakhmonov defeats Stephen Thompson by submission (rear-naked choke) at 4:56 of Round 2
- Paddy Pimblett defeats Tony Ferguson by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Josh Emmett defeats Bryce Mitchell by KO (right hand) at 1:57 of Round 1
- Alonzo Menifield defeats Dustin Jacoby by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Irene Aldana defeats Karol Rosa by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Cody Garbrandt defeats Brian Kelleher by KO (right hand) at 3:42 of Round 1
- Ariane Lipski defeats Casey O’Neill by submission (armbar) at 1:18 of Round 2
- Tagir Ulanbekov defeats Cody Durden by submission (rear-naked choke) at 4:25 of Round 2
- Andre Fili defeats Lucas Almeida by TKO (strikes) at 3:32 of Round 1
- Shamil Gaziev defeats Martin Buday by TKO (strikes) at 0:56 of Round 2
UFC 296: Edwards vs Covington Early Prelim Results
Shamil Gaziev defeats Martin Buday by TKO (strikes) at 0:56 of Round 2
Shamil Gaziev made a statement to kick off the evening and his UFC tenure, taking out Martin Buday in impressive fashion.
The recent Dana White’s Contender Series (DWCS) graduate sprinted out of the chute, taking the fight to Buday early and busting him up in the opening two minutes. While Buday endured the onslaught to see the second, it didn’t take long for the unbeaten newcomer to dispatch him in the second.
An excellent effort for the undefeated heavyweight newcomer, who moved to 12-0 with his first UFC victory, kicking off the night with a dominant stoppage win and ending Buday’s 12-fight winning streak in the process. | Official Scorecards
Andre Fili defeats Lucas Almeida by TKO (strikes) at 3:32 of Round 1
Andre Fili took his time and wiped out Lucas Almeida to get himself back in the win column.
The 33-year-old featherweight stalwart was loose and flowy throughout, picking his spot with low kicks and sporadic clean punches, avoiding the majority of what was coming back his way. With just over 90 seconds remaining in the opening round, Fili and Almeida came together in the pocket to Fili connected with a clean right hand that put the Brazilian on the canvas.
After dropping his first appearance of the year in a competitive, entertaining battle with Nathaniel Wood, the long-time Team Alpha Male man closes out 2024 with a tremendous stoppage victory and his 10th UFC win overall.
Tagir Ulanbekov defeats Cody Durden by submission (rear-naked choke) at 4:25 of Round 2
Tagir Ulanbekov turned in a dominant effort in the first of Saturday’s two bouts in the men’s 125-pound weight class, securing his second consecutive victory while halting the winning streak of Cody Durden.
The standout from Dagestan dropped Durden in the opening stanza, but it was his grappling that allowed him to dominate. After threatening with a choke from back mount in the final minute of the first, Ulanbekov got back to that position in the second and sealed the deal, squeezing out the choke.
Now 4-1 inside the Octagon and already stationed inside the Top 15, a second consecutive finish could have the 32-year-old moving up in the rankings to close out the year. | Official Scorecards
UFC 296: Edwards vs Covington Prelim Results
Ariane Lipski defeats Casey O’Neill by submission (armbar) at 1:18 of Round 2
Ariane Lipski has never looked better.
The 29-year-old “Queen of Violence” took the fight to Casey O’Neill right out of the gate, showcasing her signature striking acumen and punishing power. After wobbling and then dropping O’Neill early in the second, the Brazilian transitioned into an armbar that drew out the tap.
After struggling to find consistency in the early days of her UFC run, Lipski has now earned three straight victories, closing out her year with an upset finish of a ranked fighter. It’s taken some time, but the former KSW champ is starting to look like a dynamic and dangerous force inside the Octagon. | Official Scorecards
Cody Garbrandt defeats Brian Kelleher by KO (right hand) at 3:42 of Round 1
Cody Garbrandt registered a walk-off knockout win over Brian Kelleher to collect his second straight victory in 2023.
The former bantamweight champ was the quicker man in the exchanges throughout, and after trading some low kicks and “No Love” getting loose with his hands, Garbrandt put a right hand on Kelleher’s chin that put him face-down on the canvas.
Following a bunch of struggles following his title win to close out 2017, Garbrandt has registered consecutive victories for the first time since his 11-fight winning streak to open his career. He looked quick against Kelleher and clearly still has finishing power, so it’ll be interesting to see what comes next for the former titleholder. | Official Scorecards
Irene Aldana defeats Karol Rosa by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Irene Aldana and Karol Rosa beat the heck out of one another for 15 minutes, throwing an insane number of strikes to set the Fight of the Night bar high heading into the main card.
Rosa opened the fight attacking Aldana’s lead leg, battering the recent title challenger for the opening five minutes. But in the second, the Mexican power hitter upped her pressure and volume, seemingly drawing level based on landing the heavier, cleaner punches. Both battered and swollen, neither showed any quit in the third, with Aldana hurting Rosa to the body and pulling away as the round progressed.
Somehow, they both stayed upright until the final bell, with the judges tasked with determining a victor for the first time on Saturday night. When the scores were added up, Aldana came out ahead, though Rosa’s stock should surely go up following an absolute banger like this one. | Official Scorecards
Alonzo Menifield defeats Dustin Jacoby by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Alonzo Menifield and Dustin Jacoby closed out the prelims swinging hammers at one another, engaging in a back-and-forth battle at light heavyweight for 15 punishing minutes.
Jacoby was the more effective of the two in the opening stanza, working behind his jab and superior technique before Menifield’s power made an appearance early in the second, staggering the Factory X representative. Jacoby was cruising in the opening stages of the third, back behind the jab, but Menifield once again found a power shot that put him down and made this one more difficult to sort out.
The judges were unanimous in how they saw it, awarding Menifield the victory with 29-28 scores across the board. That’s now consecutive victories and a five-fight unbeaten streak for “Atomic” Alonzo Menifield, who is quietly becoming a dark horse in the light heavyweight division. | Official Scorecards
UFC 296: Edwards vs Covington Main Card Results
Josh Emmett defeats Bryce Mitchell by KO (right hand) at 1:57 of Round 1
It only took one.
Josh Emmett hit Bryce Mitchell with one right hand and the fight was over. The two men circled each other to start, looking for openings and opportunities, and when Mitchell threw a right hand, Emmett came over the top with a right hand that instantly shut off the Arkansas native’s lights.
What a knockout. What a way to kick off the pay-per-view. What a way to close out the year for Emmett after two straight losses.
Paddy Pimblett defeats Tony Ferguson by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Paddy Pimblett boxed up and out-grappled Tony Ferguson to register his fifth consecutive UFC victory.
After more than a year away, “The Baddy” returned to the Octagon and took the fight to Ferguson, battering him on the feet in the first before controlling things on the canvas in the second. While he looked slowed and compromised in the third, Pimblett was able to put Ferguson on the canvas and grind out the clock from top position, neutralizing the veteran’s attempts to find openings and salt away the victory.
The Liverpool native looked sharp out of the chute and fought smart down the stretch to secure another win and run his overall winning streak to seven. It’ll be interesting to learn what issues Pimblett was dealing with in the back half of this fight, and it will be curious to see what comes next for the streaking Scouser who is still unbeaten inside the Octagon. | Official Scorecards
Shavkat Rakhmonov defeats Stephen Thompson by submission (rear-naked choke) at 4:56 of Round 2
Shavkat Rakhmonov remains undefeated and his finishing rate remains perfect, as the surging welterweight contender squeezed out a tap from Stephen Thompson in the final seconds of the second round.
Rakhmonov was just too much everything for “Wonderboy” — too big, too strong, too complete. After failing to get the fight to the floor in the first, “Nomad” put Thompson on the deck in the second, and after missing on his initial choke attempt, he laced up the finish in the final moments of the middle stanza.
That’s now six wins and six finishes in the UFC, and 18 wins and 18 finishes overall. Rakhmonov is the real deal and continues closing in on the top of the division with this effort. | Official Scorecards
Co-Main Event: Alexandre Pantoja defeats Brandon Royval by unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 49-46)
Alexandre Pantoja retained the UFC flyweight title with a unanimous decision win over unrelenting contender Brandon Royval.
Throughout the contest, the champion was the far superior grappler, taking the challenger down at will and keeping him on the canvas for long stretches, threatening with submission attempts and advancing to dominant positions. Royval emptied the gas tank in the fifth, taking the fight to the fading champion, only for Pantoja to find a takedown and stem the surging tide.
This was a smart, tactical effort from the Brazilian, who earned a pair of victories in rematches over opponents named Brandon in 2023, and heads into next year ready to continue defending his flyweight throne.
Main Event: Leon Edwards vs Colby Covington
- Leon Edwards (21-3 1NC, fighting out of Birmingham, England) looks to continue his momentum following winning his trilogy bout against former titleholder Kamaru Usman. Currently riding a 12-fight unbeaten streak, he has also earned spectacular victories over Nate Diaz, Rafael Dos Anjos and Gunnar Nelson. Edwards now intends to further cement himself as the top welterweight on the planet.
- Former interim welterweight champion Colby Covington (17-3, fighting out of Miami, Fla.) returns to action following his dominant win against heated rival Jorge Masvidal. An NCAA Division I All-American, he has also delivered notable victories over Tyron Woodley, Robbie Lawler and Rafael Dos Anjos. Covington now has his sights set on stopping Edwards in emphatic fashion.