Cris "Cyborg" Justino's UFC debut -- a fight years in the making -- lasted a mere 81 seconds.
Justino (16-1) has long been considered one of, if not the best female fighters in the world. She had never fought in the Octagon until UFC 198 on Saturday, however, as the promotion does not have her 145-pound weight division.
The 30-year-old Brazilian agreed to cut to 140 pounds to make a UFC debut possible and met Leslie Smith at Arena da Baixada in her hometown of Curitiba, Brazil. The fight ended in a Justino TKO at the 1:21 mark of the opening round, after she knocked down Smith (8-7) with a right hand and finished her with strikes on the ground.
Smith, 33, looked relatively comfortable on her feet against Justino but managed to land only three punches, according to Fightmetric. Justino slipped the majority of her jabs and came back with hard right hands and outside leg kicks. The straight right Justino used to knock down Smith came at the end of a flurry of punches, including a left hook that landed. Referee Eduardo Herdy moved in quickly to stop the bout once Smith went down, even though she appeared to be rolling for a leg to slow Justino down.
It is the sixth consecutive win for Justino, who still holds a 145-pound championship in all-female promotion Invicta FC. Fourteen of her 16 wins have come via knockout, eight of which have occurred in the first round.
After the bout, Justino said she's open to returning to Invicta to defend her title or signing another 140-pound catchweight in the UFC. She has said in numerous interviews she is hesitant to try a cut to 135 pounds, the heaviest female division in the UFC.
"I'm Invicta champion," Justino said. "I want to defend my belt, or I can fight catchweight in the UFC."
Justino, who trains out of Southern California, is the former Strikeforce featherweight champion. A potential megafight between Justino and former UFC champion Ronda Rousey (12-1) dominated female MMA headlines for years but never came to fruition. The UFC demanded that fight take place at 135 pounds. Momentum seemed to be building toward it, until Rousey suffered a shocking knockout loss to Holly Holm at UFC 193 in November.
Working with nutritionist George Lockhart, Justino weighed in for the 140-pound catchweight at 139 pounds. She has not lost since her professional debut in 2005.
"There is nothing better; I am very happy and I got in there very calm," Justino said. "I didn't push hard and I studied more. Many people who have followed me since the beginning were waiting for me to come to UFC. I admire Leslie for coming here, because she made my dream come true."
Souza dominates Belfort
Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza made the biggest statement of his UFC career as he finished off the always-dangerous Vitor Belfort (25-12) via first-round TKO. The finish came at the 4:38 mark, after Souza took Belfort down, moved into mount and hammered him with elbows and punches.
Immediate cageside stats by Fightmetric had Souza (23-4) out-landing Belfort in total strikes 51 to 4. He scored takedowns along the fence and dominated Belfort on the floor. An early elbow cut Belfort on the bridge of the nose so badly, referee Osiris Maia brought in a physician to check on him.
The win puts Souza in a great spot for a possible middleweight title shot. A former Strikeforce champion, Souza is 6-1 in the UFC and has fought the current champion, Luke Rockhold. The two met for the Strikeforce title in September 2011, with Rockhold winning by unanimous decision. It marked one of only two losses for Souza in seven years.
"I deserve the title shot," Souza said through an interpreter. "I think I earned it and I deserved this fight."
Rockhold (15-2) is scheduled to make his first title defense in an immediate rematch against former champion Chris Weidman at UFC 199 on June 4 in Inglewood, California.
Belfort, 39, falls to 1-2 in his last two fights. He challenged Weidman for the 185-pound title in May 2015 and lost by TKO in the first round.
Rua claims split decision
Former light heavyweight champion Mauricio "Shogun" Rua (24-10) defeated Corey Anderson (8-2) via split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29), knocking him down twice in the process. Rua, who is from Curitiba, scored knockdowns late in the first and second rounds, which probably won him the fight. Anderson out-landed Rua in total strikes 84 to 53, but a left hook put him down in the opening round and then a straight right did the same in the second. Anderson relied heavily on his wrestling to win the third, but it wasn't enough to overcome the knockdowns. Rua picks up his second win in a row -- it's the first time he has won back-to-back fights since 2009. Anderson, a former winner of "The Ultimate Fighter" reality series, drops to 5-2 in the UFC.
Maia submits Brown in Round 3
Welterweight Demian Maia (23-6) extended his winning streak to five in a dominant submission win over Matt Brown (20-14). Maia, 38, tapped Brown via rear-naked choke at 4:31 of the third round. The end almost felt inevitable, as Maia owned Brown on the floor, took his back multiple times and threatened with several rear-naked chokes. Brown's only moments came in the third, when he stuffed two Maia takedown attempts and hit him with a left hook as Maia sat on the canvas. Brown swarmed for a finish, which proved to be a mistake as Maia wasn't hurt and ended up driving into a successful single-leg takedown. Maia, of Sao Paulo, Brazil, has not lost since a close decision defeat to Rory MacDonald in February 2014.
Nogueira stops Cummins
Veteran light heavyweight Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (22-7) turned back the clock in an upset first-round knockout against Patrick Cummins (8-4) at the 4:52 mark. The 39-year-old Brazilian hurt Cummins with a right hook late in the round. Cummins grimaced and backed up, dazed from the shot. He tried for a desperate single-leg takedown but Nogueira shrugged it off and started to tee off with straight lefts. The win snaps a two-fight skid for Nogueira, who won for the first time since February 2013.