by Nick Mecca

Bantamweight Marlon Moraes concluded UFC Fight Night at the Adirondack Bank Center with a dramatic knockout less than a minute into the main event. After delivering a textbook head-kick to his opponent, Jimmie Rivera, the fight was all but over. A quick flurry of punches followed by the referee’s call and Moraes would earn top honors for the night leaping to the top of the cage to celebrate.  

Twenty-four athletes squared off inside the octagon positioned perfectly beneath the Adirondack Bank Center’s iconic 72 cables. It was only the eighth UFC event in New York since MMA was legalized in the State with over 4,000 fans filling the seats.

The FS1 broadcast would begin with the commentator calling Utica “the city that God forgot.” By the end of the evening it was confirmed he was wrong. Utica, NY was at the epicenter of the UFC world and fans and fighters alike were raving about the iconic AUD atmosphere. At times the feeling in the building rivaled that of a Comets home opener or playoff series. A “U-TI-CA” chant could even be heard at one point.

"What made me the happiest was how excited the fans were for UFC being here in Utica,” said Moraes. “They were amazing."

Local favorite, Gregor Gillespie, won the co-main event in a second-round submission to improve his record to 5-0 handing Vinc Pichel his first loss since 2012.

“I couldn’t imagine coming home and losing in front of the crowd that came to support me,” said Gillespie. “It's such a unique feeling. I appreciate that more than I express."

“I wasn’t sure what to expect because I’ve never been to a fight before,” said Erika Hawes. “We had a lot of fun! It was so exciting; the crowd was great and we loved our view. You could see everything. Our guy, Desmond Green, won his fight and we couldn’t be more thrilled for him and his team.”

After Sam Alvey’s split decision victory he turned to the crowd and confirmed, "Hell yeah, Utica! Woooooo! Your town is beautiful!"

The final phase of the West End Expansion of the Adirondack Bank Center project finished just in time for UFC Fight Night with the opening of 72 Tavern & Grill.

The full-service eatery featuring a 160-inch high definition LED video wall, 30-foot bar and 5,000 square feet of space for diners and sports fans opened at 11am on Friday and was filled with fight fans by dinner hour. The atmosphere was similar to that of the arena floor.

“From the entrance outside it looked like it would be small, however when you went inside, it was the opposite,” said Karina Casaletta. “I just stopped in quick to check it out and have a drink at the bar. The bartenders were all super friendly and even though there was a good amount of people there we got our drinks right away! Looking forward to going back soon to sit down and grab some of that delicious looking food that others were ordering.”

Unlike the concession options inside the Adirondack Bank Center, the 72 Tavern & Grill will be open 7 days a week providing the perfect space to enjoy the Stanley Cup Finals, NBA Finals, Belmont Stakes and more! A calendar of featured events is available on the tavern’s website.

For more coverage of the events including photos, videos and Tavern updates follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.