The UFC 160 main card got under way with a lightweight bout between fight night bonus-hunter Donald Cerrone and Strikeforce import K.J. Noons on Saturday night in Las Vegas.
The fight was billed as a potential striking war, and the action itself lived up to that billing for its majority. In the end, it was Cerrone's edge on the feet, and his ability to mix in a takedown here and there, that earned him a very bloody unanimous-decision victory.
What We'll Remember About This Fight
It was an entertaining one, so it's memorable in that regard. Cerrone's performance was memorable in its own right.
We also may remember it as Noons' unsuccessful UFC debut. If he doesn't turn it around quickly, we aren't likely to remember him at all for much longer.
What We Learned About Cerrone
His back was against the wall coming into this fight, so we learned he has a little clutch in him. And while we already knew his striking was sound, outclassing a tough boxer like Noons was impressive.
Another thing we learned was that Cerrone is more willing to change it up. He's an awesome grappler but has rarely initiated takedowns in the past. Against Noons, he really mixed his attacks nicely.
What We Learned About Noons
Was it Octagon jitters, or does Noons have some cardio issues? Hard to say, but in his defense, he isn't known for gassing.
What is clear is that his striking, while solid, is not enough to carry him through upper-level competition in the UFC. To make an impact, he'll have to refine his overall game.
What's Next for Cerrone
A nice win at UFC 160 should earn him a big fight. Jim Miller poses an interesting stylistic challenge, so that's an option. Another option would be Khabib Nurmagomedov, who is on the same fight schedule as Cerrone, having competed earlier in the night.
What's Next for Noons
Noons' final Strikeforce fight was a dubious decision loss to Ryan Couture. Now that both men are in the UFC and coming off losses, he should get a shot at righting the judges' mistake.
That is, if both he and Couture get a second fight with the promotion.