UFC great Frankie Edgar KO'd at MSG in final fight

NEW YORK (AP) — Former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar lost the final bout of his MMA career when he was dropped by Chris Gutierrez at 2:01 of the first round of their fight at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night.

The 41-year-old Edgar took a knee to the head at UFC 281 for a brutal KO loss in his last time in the cage in a career that started in 2005. Gutierrez and Edgar had a long embrace after the spectacular finish in the 135-pound fight that quieted another packed crowd at MSG.

A New Jersey native, Edgar finished his career at 24-11-1 overall and 18-11-1 in the UFC.

Edgar entered the night with a UFC-record 7 hours, 55 minutes and 9 seconds of total fight time. His 1,799 significant strikes were second-best, and 73 takedowns were fourth on the career list.

“Ladies and gentleman, this is the final fight of his illustrious Hall of Fame career,” octagon announcer Bruce Buffer bellowed to a roaring crowd.

The intros to a packed house that included Sylvester Stallone and Mike Tyson were about as long as the fight.

“I’ve got my family here,” a crestfallen Edgar said. “That’s all that matters.”

Israel Adesanya defends his middleweight title against Brazilian knockout artist Alex Pereira in the main event of UFC 281 at Madison Square Garden. Pereira holds a 2-0 record against Adesanya but both wins came in their old kickboxing days. Adesanya is set to defend his 185-pound crown for a sixth time. Pereira is undefeated in three UFC fights.

Dustin Poirier also takes on Michael Chandler in a lightweight bout, and Dan Hooker scored a TKO win over Claudio Puelles at 4:06 of the second round in the first bout on the main card.

The card fell on the 29th anniversary of the first Ultimate Fighting Championship event held in Denver and six years to the day of the first UFC card at Madison Square Garden. New York became the final state to legalize mixed martial arts cards and that opened the door to some of the richest cards in UFC history at both MSG and Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

UFC Hall of Famer Royce Gracie won three fights that night in Denver in a no-rules tournament that was just the start for a company that now stands as the global leader in MMA.

“3 fights in one night, No time limit, No weight division, No gloves, No rules,” Gracie posted on Instagram.

A fan favorite, Edgar has seen the evolution of UFC as much as any fighter since his 2007 debut in the company. UFC has one year left on a $1.5 billion, five-year deal with ESPN that seemed inconceivable in 2007 as much as it did in 1993. Edgar, out of Toms River, New Jersey, held the lightweight championship for nearly two years from 2010 to 2012.

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Dan Gelston, The Associated Press