Memorable inside and outside the cage moments occurred during UFC's first trip to St. Louis

Take a look back at the first time the UFC held an event in St. Louis.
Jan 14, 2018; St. Louis, MO, USA; Jeremy Stephens (red gloves) fights Dooho Choi (blue gloves)
Jan 14, 2018; St. Louis, MO, USA; Jeremy Stephens (red gloves) fights Dooho Choi (blue gloves) / Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

Jan. 14, 2018, was a historic night with the UFC coming to St. Louis for the first time. On May 11, after a six-year wait, the Octagon finally returns for UFC St. Louis, a Fight Night card. Despite some bad luck during fight week, the UFC's first trip to the city was a night to remember.

Two days before the card, a welterweight bout between Zak Cummings and former title challenger Thiago Alves was scrapped when Cummings had to withdraw due to an injury. Additionally, a high-profile middleweight matchup featuring Uriah Hall and former light heavyweight champion, Vitor Belfort was canceled the day before the fight when Hall fell ill on his way to the weigh-ins. The issues didn't end there. Featherweight fighter Mads Burnell, failed to make the contracted weight, coming in four pounds over the 146-pound limit. His card-opening fight against Mike Santiago would be contested at a catchweight of 150 pounds.

The card started a bit slow with the first three bouts all going to a decision. From there, things began to get more interesting as Kyung Ho Kang defeated Guido Cannetti by triangle with less than 10 seconds to go in the first round of their bantamweight bout. The energy really picked up two fights later with the first knockout of the night.

Lightweights Matt Frevola and Polo Reyes came out like they were shot out of cannons, immediately engaging in a firefight. Less than 20 seconds into the bout Frevola got clipped with a left hook that sent his mouthpiece flying and a few seconds later he was on the ground with Reyes on his back. Frevola was able to work back to his feet before getting caught with a clean right hook that left him face down and unconscious. One minute doesn't get more action-packed. The crushing knockout would earn Reyes a Performance of the Night bonus.

Kicking off the main card of the Fox Sports 1 broadcast was a highly anticipated featherweight clash between No. 10-ranked featherweight Darren Elkins and No. 10-ranked lightweight Michael Johnson. Both men were longtime veterans of the UFC when they met that night and are still competing in the promotion. In what came as no surprise to fans familiar with Johnson and Elkins, the fight was all action from the start. Johnson used his trademark hand speed and punching power throughout the opening round, leaving Elkins battered and bloody by the time the horn sounded.

UFC St. Louis holds special moments in the timeline of the UFC's history

Early in the second round Elkins caught a Johnson low kick and was able to secure a takedown. In typical Elkins fashion, he was able to wear on his opponent until a mistake was made. When Johnson attempted to work back to his feet, Elkins took his back. From there it was just a matter of time before Elkins sunk in the rear naked choke, forcing Johnson to tap. The submission earned Elkins the second Performance of the Night bonus of his career.

The highlights from that night in St. Louis didn't only take place in the cage. Sitting cage side for the final three fights of the night was former UFC welterweight champion Matt Hughes. Hughes had sustained a serious brain injury seven months earlier when his truck was struck by a train. It was a moment of triumph for Hughes to walk out to his seat as he had to learn to walk and talk again after the accident.

As Hughes sat cage side, Kamaru Usman delivered a dominating three round performance against Emil Meek. Utilizing a style that was reminiscent of Hughes, Usman repeatedly took Meek down and brutalized him with ground and pound. The win would be Usman's seventh in the promotion. As of the writing of this article, it was the last time Usman would fight an unranked opponent.

On paper, you couldn't ask for a more exciting fight for the featherweight main event. No. 9 Jeremy Stephens had already secured seven performance bonuses in his UFC career and No. 13 Doo Ho Choi had three first round knockouts and three performance bonuses in his four fight UFC career. Both men were coming off of Fight of the Night performances and looking to carry that moment to a win. Stephens had just secured a victory over former Strikeforce lightweight champion, Gilbert Melendez and Choi's previous fight was an all time classic against Cub Swanson that is now honored in the UFC Hall of Fame.

As to be expected with these two combatants, both men started the fight pressing forward throwing big shots. Neither man was able to land clean in the early going, though Choi had success attacking the lead calf of Stephens. In the final minute of the round, both fighters started to find their range and it became apparent that it would only be a matter of time before one of them landed flush.

The second round started at a blistering pace with both men testing their opponent's chin. About 90 seconds in to the round, Stephens was able to counter Choi's calf kick with a blistering straight right that put Choi on his heels. Stalking his opponent, Stephens was able to land a vicious right hook that dropped Choi to the ground. A pin point accurate right hand and follow up elbows forced referee Keith Peterson to call a stop to the fight. To no one's surprise, the seven and a half minute fight garnered Fight of the Night honors.