Two fighters with New Mexico ties entered the octagon at UFC 239 with aspirations of emerging with a championship belt around their waist.
Jon "Bones" Jones successfully defended his Light Heavyweight Championship by earning a split decision over Thiago Santos, but Holly Holm fell short and was knocked out by defending champ Amanda Nunes in the Women's Bantamweight Championship bout.
The main card was a historic one.
Diego Sanchez appeared to be thoroughly outclassed in the opening fight of the main card, losing a unanimous decision to Michael Chiesa by a count of 30-26 on all three judges' score cards.
While that fight may have been underwhelming to some, the next bout wound up as the quickest knockout victory in UFC history. Ben Askren charged toward his opponent right out of the gate and was met with a vicious knee that was administered cleanly by Jorge Masvidal.
Masvidal seemed confident, leaning casually against the cage just prior to the start and circled right for a brief second before launching himself into the incoming Askren. He followed up the flying double-knee by applying a pair of clean punches to the face of his helpless opponent before the referee could stop the action.
Masvidal punctuated the incident by dropping down to his knees near his fallen foe and tapped the mat three times. The official time of the match clocked in at just five seconds.
The loss put an end to Askren's undefeated record, which was a perfect 19-0 entering Saturday.
Nunes needed just one round to dispatch of Holm as well, though the Albuquerque-native lasted into the final minute of the round.
Holm is almost unquestionably known for a head kick of her own — like the one in 2015 that knocked out then-superstar Ronda Rousey and put the women's championship belt around her waist.
But Nunes caught Holm in a precarious position after her opponent started to extend her leg for a kick and was off balance after starting to pull it back. And the champion connected with a thundering fully-extended head kick in which her foot found the head of Holm and drove the challenger straight back.
She landed on her backside and was unable to get up and defend herself before Nunes pounced on her and finished the fight with a couple of punches before the referee intervened.
The Jones vs. Santos main event was a controversial one that resulted in a split-decision favoring the champion.
Many analysts argued that Santos clearly won the first and final rounds of the five-round bout — though that wasn't the way the judges saw it. Interestingly, Junichiro Kamijo — the judge who ruled 48-47 for Santos — was the only judge who didn't give round five to Santos.
Round one went to Santos unanimously.
The challenger consistently landed leg kicks throughout the night and began the fight doing so, going low and targeting Jones' calf. Santos said in a post-fight interview that he injured his own knee in the opening round, which appeared obvious to many people — including commentators who pointed it out almost immediately.
But Jones never really broached the issue and seemed disinterested in engaging with Santos', electing to "play it smart" as he put it afterward.
The second round might be the focus of some contention. Two of the three judges felt Jones won rounds two, three and four, but the other judge — and many fight fans — saw Santos as the aggressor. And losing that swing round on two scorecards was arguably the difference maker in determining which fighter won the fight.
Jones never really seemed to get in trouble and did just enough to establish himself and clearly take rounds three and four. The defending champ absorbed some damage, but seemed unfazed and landed a head kick and knee kick before seemingly holding back in the final five minutes.
He acknowledged the boos and even issued an apology in the post-fight interview, but ran his undefeated record to 17 just the same — though one of those included a fight against Daniel Cormier that was ruled a "no contest."
Another rematch between Cormier and Jones could be lining up as the champion admitted his interest in facing the winner of the Cormier vs Stipe Miocic, though a rematch against Santos might be in the cards as well.
Robert Maler is the sports editor for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers basketball and baseball and contributes content for various other sports as well. He can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @Robert_Maler