Holly Holm did not cut a list of highlights in her UFC debut, but she won it.
A former world champion boxer, Holm (8-0) kept her unblemished MMA record intact with a split decision win against Raquel Pennington. Two judges scored the female bantamweight fight for Holm, 30-27 and 29-28. A third had it for Pennington, 29-28. ESPN.com scored the fight 29-28 for Holm.
Holm took advantage of what looked to be a slow start by Pennington (5-5), who entered the fight a heavy underdog. Holm used her length and footwork to keep Pennington on the outside, scoring points with front and side kicks to the body. Pennington worked in deep on several takedown attempts, but couldn't bring Holm down once in the entire fight.
Pennington worked a counter right hand in here and there, but Holly's volume bothered her in the first round. Immediate cageside stats counted 214 total strikes attempted by Holm, compared to 150 by Pennington.
It was more of the same in the second round, although Pennington started to settle in a bit more. She anticipated Holm's combinations coming from the outside and started to land the counter right with more frequency. She continued to pursue a takedown, but would abandon it more quickly as the fight drew on, switching to short right uppercuts to the body.
In the third, Pennington would drop Holm with a right hand to the chin. Holm jumped to her feet instantly, but it was a clean shot and Pennington built on it with more right hands that had Holm bleeding from the nose by the end of the fight. Holm's athleticism showed, however, as she hung in and continued to throw combinations, including a couple good knees to the body from the clinch.
Holm, 33, who was being touted as a potential title contender, will likely need at least one more fight before that opportunity. She goes the distance for just the second time in her career. Fighting out of Jackson-Winkeljohn MMA in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Holm fought just once in 2014 due to a neck and arm injury.
Pennington, a former contestant on "The Ultimate Fighter" reality series, drops to 2-2 in the Octagon.
Ellenberger subs Koscheck
Ellenberger (30-9) got his hand raised for the first time since March 2013, tapping Koscheck with a north-south choke. Referee Jerin Valel stopped the welterweight fight at 4:20 of the round.
It was just what the doctor ordered for Ellenberger, 29, who went from flirting with title contention two years ago to losing his last three fights.
For Koscheck, it might be close to the end of his career. The 37-year-old has expressed interest in fighting out the remainder of his UFC contract, which includes one more fight, but he's now dropped four in a row and been finished in his last three.
Koscheck (18-8) appeared desperate for a takedown from the opening minute. He scored a driving double-leg early, but Ellenberger wall-walked back to his feet. Koscheck was relentless when he had Ellenberger along the fence, staying heavy on his opponents' waist in an effort to keep him corralled there.
Ellenberger defended the rest of Koscxeck's takedown attempts, however, and had an easy time landing punches when the fight was in the open. He bothered Koscheck with his jab and landed a few hard counter hooks when Koscheck attacked him with his signature right hand.
He appeared to wobble Koscheck midway through the first with a counter hook. Koscheck never looked real sure on his feet and opened the second round with another immediate takedown attempt.
He held Ellenberger against the fence until Valel separated them. After a few brief exchanges, during which Koscheck started to blink and grab at his left eye, Koscheck shot again but left himself open to a power guillotine. Ellenberger used the hold to eventually move into the north-south position, where he finished the fight.
The Southern California-based Ellenberger earns his eighth win in the UFC and the sixth win by submission of his career. Koscheck drops to 15-9 all-time in the UFC.
Ferguson passes Tibau test with ease
Facing perhaps his toughest test in the UFC, Tony Ferguson made it look easy. Real easy.
Ferguson (18-3) made quick work of the veteran Tibau, submitting him via rear-naked choke at 2:37 of the first round. It marks Ferguson's fifth consecutive win.
"As soon as his hands hit the mat his neck was available, so I needed to make sure I flattened him out and kept him off my back," Ferguson said. "I got his neck, that was it, it was over and I got the win."
As he's been known to do, Tibau (34-10) threw heavy counter shots throughout the brief lightweight contest, but Ferguson navigated through them beautifully. He peppered Tibau with outside leg kicks at the start of the fight and scored a quick takedown in the opening minute.
After Tibau wrestled back to his feet, Ferguson landed a straight right to the chin that clearly rocked the Brazilian. Tibau backed his way to the fence and then shot desperately on Ferguson.
A former contestant on The Ultimate Fighter reality series, Ferguson calmly stuffed the shot and briefly looked for a D'Arce choke. Tibau managed to avoid the submission, but he turtled in the center of the cage, which allowed Ferguson to rotate to his back and set his hooks. From there, it was a matter of seconds before Ferguson slipped the left arm under the chin.
Ferguson, 31, lost a full year between 2012 and 2013 due to injury. He has been busy since his return, collecting five wins in the span of 16 months. He becomes just the second fighter to ever submit Tibau. Tibau sees a three-fight win streak snapped.