Canelo vs. Plant, U.F.C. 268 Live Results: Gaethje Gets Wild Win


As Kevin Garnett (who has a documentary coming out on Showtime) was being interviewed on the Álvarez-Plant telecast, Luka Doncic was burying the Boston Celtics with an off-balance buzzer-beating 3-pointer. Don’t worry, this live blog has you covered tonight.

Morgan Campbell

Credit…Steve Marcus/Associated Press

The featherweights Rey Vargas and Leonardo Baez paced around the ring during prefight introductions decked out in identical Mexican flag serapes. For social media-savvy fight fans, the scene brought to mind the Spiderman-pointing-at-Spiderman meme.

But if you couldn’t distinguish the fighters through dress, you could tell them apart by pedigree. Baez, from Mexicali, Mexico, entered at 21-4 and had never fought for a world title. Vargas had won all 34 of his pro fights and was a world champion at 122 pounds before moving up to featherweight.

From there, the gap in class became clear. Baez, diligent but limited, tried to force the fight at close range. Vargas, a loose-limbed combination puncher, landed sharp shots from a distance, peppering Baez with long right hands to the body and head.

Baez raised his hands and played to the crowd after the final bell, but the judges scored it 99-91, 100-90 and 100-90 for Vargas.

The judges had it right.

Kevin Draper

That Michael Chandler even forced the judges into a decision should be considered a victory. There were at least three times when he should have been finished, and he got up each time.

Emmanuel Morgan

U.F.C. 268

Credit…Corey Sipkin/Associated Press

The tangible excitement before, during and after the fight lived up to the product inside the cage. Justin Gaethje defeated Michael Chandler via unanimous decision in a lightweight bout to start the main card of U.F.C. 268, essentially earing a title shot for his next fight.

Gaethje will most likely clash with the winner of the champion Charles Oliveira and the No. 1 contender Dustin Poirier, who will fight next month.

Gaethje sent Chandler to the ground in the second round with a punch to the face, and his aggression in that round could have been the deciding factor in a fast-paced, exciting bout. In the third round, Gaethje wobbled Chandler with a right hand, but he still marched forward like a zombie with blood around his nose, eyes and mouth.

The two men showed sportsmanship in what was predicted to be a fight defined by high tempo and similar styles. Chandler also nearly finished Gaethje in the first round near the fence, but Gaethje recovered from those attacks. Afterward, as Gaethje and Chandler exited the cage, Chandler looked into the crowd and shouted, “Are you not entertained?”

Everyone who watched that fight surely was.

Morgan Campbell

​​Leonardo Baez, diligent but limited, tried to force the fight at close range against Rey Vargas and the gap in class became clear. Vargas, a loose-limbed combination puncher, landed sharp shots from a distance, peppering Baez with long right hands to the body and head. The judges scored it 99-91, 100-90 and 100-90 for Vargas, and had it right.

Oskar Garcia

Justin Gaethje took a decision over Michael Chandler, and I’ll be very keen to look at the judge’s scorecards just because I wonder if Chandler trash-talked his way out of losing the last round. Gaethje for sure had a 10-8 round earlier, and Chandler didn’t adjust.

Kevin Draper

Mixed-martial arts is often derided by boxing fans as human cockfighting. But watching Gaethje-Chandler and Vargas-Baez side-by-side they are both absolutely all out bloody brawls, just with different types of strikes.

Oskar Garcia

Don’t be surprised if the first round between Gaethje and Chandler ends up being the round of the night tonight. It almost looked like a throwback to Gaethje’s first days in the U.F.C., when he basically would move forward, punch and take all kinds of punishment. Can this really last three rounds?

Kevin Draper

Álvarez-Plant

Credit…Al Bello/Getty Images

Here’s a look at the full Álvarez-Plant card:

Main Card (9 p.m. E.T.)

Canelo Álvarez vs. Robert Plant

Anthony Dirrell vs. Marcos Hernandez

Rey Vargas defeats Leonardo Baez via unanimous decision (10 rounds).

Elvis Rodriguez defeats Juan Pablo Romero via K.O. in the fifth round.

Prelims

Joselito Velazquez defeats Gilberto Mendoza via unanimous decision (eight rounds).

Fernando Diaz defeats Jan Salvatierra via K.O. in the fifth round.

Jose Meza defeats Jose Gomez via unanimous decision (eight rounds).

Rances Barthelemy defeats Gustavo David Vittori via T.K.O. in the second round.

Kevin Draper

Justin Gaethje and Michael Chandler both headlined pay-per-views during their last U.F.C. fights. The fact that they face-off in the first of five fights on tonight’s main card tells you how stacked the card is.

Morgan Campbell

Credit…David Becker/Getty Images

The super lightweights Elvis Rodriguez and Juan Pablo Romero fought at close range, each man confident his tools could do the job. Rodriguez, a southpaw from the Dominican Republic who now lives in Los Angeles, had faster hands. Romero, a 31-year-old from Villa Del Carbon, Mexico, threw heavier punches.

Speed won out.

In Round 4, a four-punch combination from Rodriguez dropped Romero, who entered Saturday undefeated. Near the end of the following round, Rodriguez cracked Romero with an overhand left to the face. Romero landed on his backside and managed to get to a knee, but couldn’t stand before the referee counted him out.

Rodriguez, who improved his record to 12-1-1, had described this bout as a “new beginning.” Until this spring, he had been a fast-rising prospect in the Top Rank promotional stable. But in May, he suffered his first pro loss, and Top Rank dropped him from its roster. The following month, he signed with Premier Boxing Champions, and Saturday he scored an emphatic win.

Oskar Garcia

As if we need more crossover among sports tonight: Showtime’s sideline reporter, Jim Gray, asked Caleb Plant about a comparison Plant has made between boxing and basketball, saying that a 12-round boxing fight is similar to a best-of-seven N.B.A. playoff series. Except in boxing, you need to bank seven rounds. And when asked about doing that against Canelo Álvarez, Plant slipped into the most universal of athlete cliches: “Just taking it a round at a time.”

Kevin Draper

The U.F.C. main card has begun. Be sure to switch over to it instead of staring at the unmoving screen of the preliminary card stream as, uh, your intrepid reporter did for a minute.

Kevin Draper

Bruce Buffer is, as ever, the U.F.C.’s octagon announcer tonight in New York. It would be appropriate if Bruce’s half-brother Michael “Let’s get ready to rumble!” Buffer was introducing the boxing entrances, but instead Jimmy Lennon Jr. is doing the honors.

Emmanuel Morgan

U.F.C. 268

Credit…John Raoux/Associated Press

This is essentially an audition for the next opponent for the U.FC.’s lightweight championship. With the 155-pound champion Charles Oliveira scheduled to fight Dustin Poirier in December, the winner of that fight will either face Michael Chandler or Justin Gaethje.

Chandler first fought in the U.F.C. in 2020 after a successful run in Bellator M.M.A., considered the second-largest mixed martial arts promotion behind the U.F.C. He won his first fight but lost to Oliveira in the second round via technical knockout in a contest to fill the vacant lightweight title after the dominant champion Khabib Nurmagomedov retired.

Before facing Nurmagomedov in October 2020, Gaethje had a four-fight win streak and won the interim lightweight title.

Both Gaethje and Chandler feature a similar style as capable wrestlers and explosive strikers. This fight starts off the main card, so grab your beer and wings early and don’t blink. This likely won’t last long.

Oskar Garcia

Maybe it’s a good thing for casual fans this highlight shows only the aftermath of Alex Pereira’s flying knee against Andreas Michailidis? The fans’ expressions are justified, we can vouch for that.

Kevin Draper

After getting knocked down for the second time, Juan Pablo Romero stared straight at the referee as he completed the full 10 count and didn’t try to get up. A solid knockout for Elvis Rodriguez.

Emmanuel Morgan

This is my second time at a New York sporting event, and the crowds live up to the reputation. If they don’t like what they see, they’re going to let you know. Lots of boos so far.

Kevin Draper

U.F.C. 268

Credit…Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Here’s a look at the full U.F.C. 268 card:

Main Card (10 p.m. ET)

Kamaru Usman vs. Colby Covington

Rose Namajunas vs. Zhang Weili

Frankie Edgar vs. Marlon Vera

Shane Burgos vs. Billy Quarantillo

Justin Gaethje defeats Michael Chandler via unanimous decision

Prelims (8 p.m. ET)

Alex Pereira defeats Andreas Michailidis via T.K.O. (flying knee)

Bobby Green defeats Al Iaquinta via T.K.O. (punches)

Chris Curtis defeats Phil Hawes via TKO (punches)

Nassourdine Imamov defeats Edmen Shahbazyan via T.K.O. (elbows)

Early Prelims (6 p.m. ET)

Ian Garry defeats Jordan Williams via K.O. (punches)

Chris Barnett defeats Gian Villante via T.K.O. (spinning wheel kick and punches)

Dustin Jacoby defeats John Allan via unanimous decision

Melsik Baghdasaryan defeats TJ Laramie via unanimous decision

Ode Osbourne defeats CJ Vergara via unanimous decision

Emmanuel Morgan

U.F.C. 268 Prelims

Credit…Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Now the leather gloves are flying.

After the early prelims were filled with mostly boring fights, these next slates of bouts ended in finishes that earned loud crowd reactions here at Madison Square Garden.

Bobby Green dispatched Al Iaquinta in the first round by technical knockout landing a clean punching combination near the fence that sent Iaquinta to the canvas. It was a sharp performance for the middleweight fighter Green, who took relatively little damage and looked calm throughout.

In the bout immediately before that, Phil Hawes also looked calm against his opponent, Chris Curtis, in a lightweight fight. He threw precise attacks and aggressively stalked Curtis inside the octagon. But Curtis connected on a shot to the body that badly hurt Hawes. He collapsed to the middle of the cage, where Curtis finished him before the first round ended. It showed that any fighter can change the course of a brawl, even when he or she has been essentially outclassed earlier in the bout.

Morgan Campbell

Álvarez-Plant Prelims

Credit…Patrick T. Fallon/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The preliminary card for the Canelo Álvarez-Caleb Plant fight unfolded in Las Vegas at a three-quarters-empty MGM Grand Garden Arena, which seats more than 17,000 people for boxing events.

Eventually, the building will fill up. Organizers said that only 300 tickets remained unsold as of Saturday afternoon, and they expected a sellout by the time the main card started.

The early undercard bouts weren’t televised or streamed online, so the few spectators in attendance were the only real-time witnesses to Rances Barthelemy’s two-round T.K.O. win over the Argentine journeyman Gustavo Vittori.

Joselito Velazquez, who trains in San Diego with Álvarez, won his super flyweight bout with Gilberto Mendoza via unanimous decision. All three judges scored it 80-72.

Jose Gomez of Huntington Park, Calif., entered his bout against Jose Meza as a heavy favorite among bettors, as well as among spectators, a few dozen of whom sported T-shirts emblazoned with Gomez’s nickname, El Gallo. But Meza, who is from Durango, Mexico, rebounded from a first-round knockdown to win a close unanimous decision.

In the final preliminary fight, super flyweights Fernando Diaz of Riverside, Calif., and Jan Salvatierra of Los Cabos, Mexico, competed evenly for four rounds. In the fifth, during a furious exchange, both fighters threw left hooks. Salvatierra’s missed, and Diaz’s landed. Salvatierra hit the canvas, stood, and then fell again. Fight over. Diaz wins. He is now 10-1-1 with three knockouts.

The main card was scheduled to start at 9 p.m. Eastern.

Oskar Garcia

Funny thing about U.F.C. fans — they cheer for hometown talent but can turn on a dime for a good stoppage. That’s what happened to Al Iaquinta, who’s from Long Island and gained even more affection for stepping in as a late replacement to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov in 2018. Bobby Green snatched tonight’s crowd though with an impressive one-two combo.

Kevin Draper

The Álvarez-Plant pay-per-view has begun. The night is (hopefully) about to get crazy.

Oskar Garcia

Wow, they’re doing the commercial shooting stuff again, apparently for one of U.F.C.’s sponsors. This crowd should at least get some free beer for this.

Emmanuel Morgan

This is why you should never underestimate body shots.

Oskar Garcia

He’s talking about this knockout win by the middleweight Chris Curtis, who was easily losing in the first round to Phil Hawes but then turned it around with this sequence.

Kevin Draper

Credit…Ethan Miller/Getty Images

With two big simultaneous fights, bars and restaurants across America have to navigate a bit of a complicated dance to show one or both of tonight’s events — and more importantly, to make any money from them.

At Printer’s Alley, a sports bar six blocks away from where U.F.C. 268 is being held at Madison Square Garden, both fights will be shown. There is no cover to get in, but all the tables are already booked up — you’ll have to belly up to the bar, if there’s any space left. A few blocks away at Carragher’s, they’re only showing U.F.C. 268, and there is a $10 cover after 8 p.m. Eastern. And at the famed Times Square boxing bar Jimmy’s Corner, which recently reopened following the death of the eponymous Jimmy Glenn, you won’t be able to catch either.

A boxing bar not showing one of the biggest boxing matches of the year? What gives?

Bars and restaurants don’t pay $70 or $80 to show fights. Instead they pay thousands of dollars, with the exact amount typically based upon how many patrons the venue seats, through a commercial account. Even with cover charges to get in and plenty of beer-drinking fight fans, it can be difficult to break even on fight nights. An employee who answered the phone at Jimmy’s Corner said the small bar, which feels packed even on slow nights, never shows pay-per-view fights because they can’t make any money from it.

Buffalo Wild Wings, which has over 1,000 locations across the United States, has a large sponsorship agreement with the U.F.C. Calls to a few locations across the United States didn’t find any showing the Álvarez-Plant fight, but did reveal that a location in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, will likely be understaffed and have the dining room closed.

Although the Álvarez-Plant fight is taking place in Las Vegas, it will be almost impossible to watch it there without a ticket. As part of the agreement to hold the fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, the only place it is being shown on the Las Vegas Strip is at Dolby Live in the Park MGM hotel and casino, for $125.

Oskar Garcia

So this is weird — they seem to be filming some kind of commercial in M.S.G., where an announcer asked the crowd to cheer loudly as they had a fighter (or someone dressed like one) pretend to do a walkout. They did more than one take. Can’t ever forget that these events are basically big TV sets.

Emmanuel Morgan

Shahbazyan vs. Imavov, also known as death by 1,000 elbows.

Emmanuel Morgan

It’s been over 10 minutes and I’m still thinking of how clean that Garry K.O. was.

Oskar Garcia

And it was interesting to hear him invoke Conor McGregor’s famous quote: “We’re not here to take part, we’re here to take over.” Garry is undefeated…

Morgan Campbell

Álvarez-Plant Fight

Credit…Patrick T. Fallon/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

An upset win by Caleb Plant might actually simplify things for Showtime, the pay-per-view platform airing the fight card. Plant might lack Álvarez’s star power and built-in audience, but he is signed to Premier Boxing Champions, a managerial outfit that partners with Fox and Showtime on boxing programming. A Plant win guarantees that the next super-middleweight title bout will land on a P.B.C.-partnered platform.

But if Álvarez, a promotional and broadcast free agent, wins on Saturday, Showtime will have to compete with other platforms for his next fight. This fight landed on Showtime because P.B.C. had Plant, and Plant owned the International Boxing Federation title, which Álvarez wanted. If Álvarez wins, Showtime will have to attempt to lure him back.

“That’s understandable, given that he wants the biggest, legacy defining fights available at this point in his career,” said Stephen Espinoza, president of Showtime Sports. “We’re optimistic that we’ll be able to continue the relationship. We look forward to doing a successful event, and continuing to work with both Canelo and Plant in the future.”

Álvarez ’s two bouts with Gennadiy Golovkin reportedly generated a combined 2.4 million pay-per-view buys, impressive numbers which help explain his appeal to boxing broadcasters. From December 2018 until this past May, Álvarez fought exclusively on the streaming service DAZN, first under a contract with Golden Boy, his former promoter, and then as a free agent in a series of one-offs.

DAZN officials had hoped to arrange a third Álvarez-Golovkin bout. Álvarez has said he is not interested. Showtime could entice Saturday’s winner with potential matchups against undefeated contender David Benavidez, or Jermall Charlo, a middleweight champion open to moving up a weight class.

Emmanuel Morgan

U.F.C. 268

Credit…Ed Mulholland/USA Today Sports, via Reuters

Chris Barnett highlighted an otherwise boring slate of early prelim fights in flashy fashion, defeating Gian Villante via technical knockout.

In the second round of the heavyweight bout, Barnett landed a roundhouse kick to Villante’s head, sending him to the canvas. He finished the fight with punches to the head, and then did a forward flip in the Octagon and landed in a split-like pose on his rear end. Kicks like those are rare for heavyweights, who usually fight at a slower pace and focus on either wrestling or power punches. It was Villante’s last fight, who said earlier he would retire regardless of the result.

Ian Garry also delivered a highlight finish in his U.F.C. debut, landing a counter punch to knock out Jordan Williams in a light heavyweight bout. It was a clean shot and a great recovery for Garry, who had absorbed some damage from Williams and struggled at points to defend his face, as evidenced from the blood near his nose.

The three other fights ended in unanimous decisions, the crowd at Madison Square Garden showing its displeasure for the inaction with a smattering of boos at multiple points.

Ode’ Osbourne defeated C.J. Vegara in a flyweight bout, Melsik Baghdasaryan defeated Bruno Souza in a flyweight bout, Dustin Jacoby defeated John Allan in a light heavyweight bout.

Emmanuel Morgan

U.F.C. 268

Credit…Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports, via Reuters

The U.F.C. altered the order of the main card to give Trevor Wittman more time to prepare his fighters.

Wittman trains the lightweight contender Justin Gaethje, the women’s strawweight champion Rose Namajunas and the welterweight champion Kamaru Usman. The original fight order placed those fighters consecutively as the final three bouts, meaning Wittman could have been a cornerman for potentially 13 straight rounds.

Now, with Gaethje facing Michael Chandler at the start of the pay-per-view card, Wittman has a two-fight pause before coaching Namajunas and Usman back-to-back in their title defenses.

Oskar Garcia

Very rare that you get the best ring entrance this early in the night, but all the heavyweight Chris Barnett needed was some Keith Murray and Ghostface Killah to go along with his moves.

Oskar Garcia

Uh, yeah, this dude came to make some fans tonight.

Morgan Campbell

Álvarez-Plant FIGHT

Credit…Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal, via Associated Press

Two weeks ago, video resurfaced on social media of an outside-the-ring skirmish between a teenage Caleb Plant and a bigger, unnamed opponent. Plant said the fight took place in 2010 in Cleveland, Tenn., where he had traveled to train for a national tournament. Between sessions at a local gym, Plant played pickup basketball at an outdoor court where, he said, the fight started.

The footage shows a shirtless Plant dodging punches, moving in circles and intermittently hitting his opponent, hard enough to unsettle him but not with enough force to damage his own hands. After nearly a minute of chasing, swinging, and missing, Plant’s exhausted antagonist reaches into his pocket for what appears to be a knife — which is to say he conceded defeat in a fair fight. Plant sprinted away from the scene, but he had won.

“Just a bully trying to be a bully,” Plant said in an interview. “But he ran into the wrong one that day and got embarrassed.”

And what did Plant learn from the fight?

That it’s better to avoid them.

“The best thing is to train and go home,” he said. “If you don’t want to get into a bar fight, don’t go to a bar.”

Kevin Draper

Credit…Joe Camporeale/USA Today Sports, via Reuters

Two big fights being staged on the same night is a rare occurrence, and for good reason. It is difficult enough to convince potential viewers to shell out $70 or $80 for a pay-per-view fight, and it is even more difficult when you have competition for those dollars.

Canelo Álvarez and Caleb Plant publicly booked this date first, settling on it on Aug. 19. Nine days later, the U.F.C. announced that U.F.C. 268 would also take place on Nov. 6. But the U.F.C. has historically held a big event in New York City on the first weekend in November, and the Álvarez-Plant organizers had to know the U.F.C. would be back this year.

“We’re completely unconcerned with the timing of any other competing event,” Stephen Espinoza, the president of Showtime Sports, told ESPN about going up against the U.F.C.

The last time big boxing and U.F.C. events clashed was the first weekend in November two years ago, when Jorge Masvidal defeated Nate Diaz in front of President Trump in New York City and Álvarez knocked out Sergey Kovalev in Las Vegas.

Executives at the streaming service DAZN, which showed the Álvarez-Kovalev fight, made the controversial decision to delay the start of the fight for 90 minutes until after 1 a.m. ET, when Masvidal and Diaz finished up. The telecast captured images of Álvarez and Kovalev practically asleep in their dressing rooms during the long delay before their fight.

Oskar Garcia

Good little early crowd at the U.F.C. fights, and let’s just say that plenty of fans are well lubricated already. Emmanuel and I have seen a ref get booed, the stands filling up and extra attention usually not afforded the early prelims.

Kevin Draper

Credit…Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

(Follow our live coverage of Usman vs. Covington and Canelo vs. Plant)

U.F.C. 268 is an all-ESPN affair in the United States.

The only place to watch the main card, which begins at 10 p.m. Eastern time, is on ESPN+, ESPN’s streaming service. The pay-per-view will set you back $69.99. If you do not yet subscribe to ESPN+, which normally costs $69.99 annually, you can buy it together with U.F.C. 268 for $89.98, saving $50.

The prelims, starting at 8 p.m. Eastern, will air on ESPN+, ESPNews and ESPN Deportes. The early prelims started at 6 p.m. Eastern on ESPN+.

If that sounds like a lot of ESPN+, well that’s the point. ESPN pays the U.F.C. hundreds of millions of dollars annually for the exclusive right to show the sport in the United States. If you are a U.F.C. fan, or becoming one, you all but have to subscribe to ESPN+.

Canelo Álvarez vs. Caleb Plant

Watching Canelo Álvarez defend all of his belts is a pricey affair. Showtime is selling the pay-per-view for $79.99, and it can be bought through its website, but also many other outlets such as pay television providers like DirecTV, Xfinity and AT&T U-verse, and streaming services like YouTube and Sling. If it is a service you watch television on, it is probably selling the fight.

The main card of four fights begins at 9 p.m. ET, and Álvarez and Plant are expected to enter the ring around midnight Eastern time. The four card preliminary card will not be aired.





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