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The UFC returned to the Fox Network platform with a four fight main card, headlined by Holly Holm taking on Valentina Shevchenko in the women’s bantamweight division, and Edson Barboza versus Gilbert Melendez at lightweight with the event emanating from the United Center in Chicago

The main cars started in the women’s strawweight division, as Felice Herrig(10-6) took on Kailin Curran(4-2), with the latter entering the bout as slight betting favourite while Herrig was looking to bounce back from a defeat last time out

Despite not having fought since April 2015, Herrig put on a great performance, taking down Curran within two minutes and quickly taking Curran’s back and locking in a rear-naked choke and getting the submission at just 1:59 of the first round

Focus then shifted to the heavyweight division as Frenchman Francis Ngannou(7-1) took on debuting Serbian Bojan Mihajlovic (10-3), with Ngannou the significant betting favourite heading into the fight

Much like the opening bout of the night this heavyweight contest didn’t last long, as after easily out-striking his opponent for the first minute-and-a-half, Ngannou landed numerous punches that rocked and dropped Mihajlovic after which the Frenchman followed up and finished off his opponent with hammerfists before referee Herb Dean stepped in and waved off the bout at 1:44 of the first round

The co-main event promised to be a striking clinic, as top lightweights Edson Barboza(17-4, #6LW) and Gilbert Melendez(22-5) did battle, with Brazilian Barboza looking to continue his climb toward a lightweight title bout, while Melendez was looking to rebound from a two fight losing streak

The bout, which went all three rounds, certainly lived up to its promise of a striking bout, as both fighters decided to keep the fight standing, though Melendez tried numerous times across all three rounds to take the bout to the ground however Barboza was easily able to avoid any Melendez takedown attempts

For three rounds though Barboza was able to -out-strike Melendez, and in particular land his trademark brutal leg kicks that that severely hampered the American and can close to stopping him in rounds two and three

After going all three rounds, and clearly winning all three of those rounds, all three judges gave the bout to Barboza 30-27, 30-27, 29-28 for the Brazilian who continues his march up the 155lbs rankings and towards a championship bout

Former divisional champion Holly Holm(10-1, #2BW) entered the main event women’s bantamweight bout opposite Valentina Shevchenko(12-2, #7BW) looking to get back on winning track after losing her last bout and the championship in the process, while Shevchenko likewise was looking to rebound following a loss last time out

On paper at least, and much like Barboza/Melendez, the main event promised to be an all-striking affair with Holm and Shevchenko being the two most-decorated strikers in boxing and kick-boxing of any fighters in the women’s bantamweight division

Holm asserted herself early, landing a short right straight on the inside that dropped Shevchenko within the first two minutes of the first round, though Kyrgyzstani fighter Shevchenko was able to recover towards the end of the round even managed to score a takedown

Rounds two and three featured more of the same, as both exchanged strikes with neither being able to gain a significant advantage, though Shevchenko was however able to gain the upper hand of the grappling exchanges and finished the third round on top of Holm after securing a takedown but was unable to land any damaging ground and pound shots

As the fight entered the fourth and fifth championship rounds Shevchenko started to edge ahead, utilizing her punches in tandem with great timing to out-strike Holm, and particularly mixing up her kicks to shut-down any offence Holm tried to land

After going all three rounds and all twenty five minutes, the judges gave the nod to Shevchenko 49-46 for the unanimous decision victory, as Shevchenko scored the biggest win of her career

By Matthew Singh-Dosanjh