Donald Cerrone made an emphatic statement in his return to the Octagon.
The "Cowboy" squared off against Jeremy Stephens on UFC on Fuel 3 and showcased a dominant display of superior striking and improved footwork.
Cerrone would continue the onslaught and pick apart his opponent to eventually pick up the unanimous decision.
The victory was well-deserved for the Greg Jackson pupil, as Cerrone earned his fifth win in his last six UFC appearances. Cerrone could find himself against a credible opponent in his next bout, where he hopes to compete in his hometown of Denver at UFC 150, but it did more than just enter him back into the 155-pound title picture.
Cerrone's performance against Stephens proved that he has evolved and improved since his last bout against Nate Diaz at UFC 141, easily the worst showing of his UFC tenure thus far. Throughout the entire contest, Cerrone's kickboxing was unsuccessful against the Stockton, Calif. native's boxing skills and reach, picking apart the former WEC standout at will, utilizing angles and effective counter-striking.
But Cerrone's win not only erased any doubts regarding his loss to Diaz, but it erased any doubts of the 29-year-old's future in the lightweight division.
Cerrone needed a victory to remain among the elite fighters at 155 pounds, but he also needed a bout to prove he is still a threat to the UFC lightweight title, and he did just that against Stephens.