In his first fight since a brutal head-kick knockout loss to Kevin Lee in November 2019, Gillespie (14-1 MMA, 7-1 UFC) overcame a strong first round from Ferreira (17-4 MMA, 8-4 UFC) and took control in the second, using ground-and-pound to finish the fight by TKO at the 4:51 mark of the round.
“There’s not much that compares to that,” Gillespie said in his post-fight interview with Daniel Cormier. “It’s been such a long time since I felt that. Last time I won a fight was two years ago. That was a special one for me.”
The catchweight bout (Ferreira missed the lightweight limit) was part of the UFC on ESPN 24 main card at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. It aired on ESPN following prelims on ESPN+.
It was a high pace to start the fight, and Ferreira was sharp with his hands. He backed up Gillespie multiple times with stiff straight punches, forcing Gillespie into takedown attempts under pressure. Ferreira’s defense was on point, and he refused to be complacent with bottom position and continued to scramble out of positions. He took Gillespie’s back late in the round and tried to choke him out, but didn’t have the time to finish.
Gillespie went back to the wrestling to start the second round, but Ferreira stayed sharp with his denials. He dropped back for a submission attempt, which allowed Gillespie to get on top of him and completely turned the momentum of the fight. Ferreira stayed offensive off his back, but Gillespie did even better from on top as he cranked it up a couple notches and started opening up with his strikes.
Ferreira got hurt from some hard blows and started to shell up, which led to a warning from the referee. Gillespie kept attacking and forced Chris Tognoni to stop the bout with nine seconds remaining in the second round.
Gillespie got his hand raised against a tough opponent, and now he wants to continue his rise up the 155-pound rankings.
“(I want) someone that’s ranked ahead of me again,” Gillespie said. “That’s what I want again.”
Up-to-the-minute UFC on ESPN 24 results include:
Gregor Gillespie def. Diego Ferreira via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 4:51
Phil Hawes def. Kyle Daukaus via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 29-27)
Mike Trizano def. Ludovit Klein via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Jun Yong Park def. Tafon Nchukwi via majority decision (30-25, 29-26, 28-28)
Carlston Harris def. Christian Aguilera via technical submission (anaconda choke) – Round 1, 2:52