Wrapping up UFC 167's preliminary card was a lightweight tilt between undeniably skilled lightweights in desperate need of a win.
Donald Cerrone was 1-2 over his last three, dropping a lackluster decision to Rafael dos Anjos, picking up a lackluster decision over KJ Noons and losing by KO after getting his torso caved in by Anthony Pettis. Evan Dunham, meanwhile, has spent the last few years hovering just outside title contention, but has been unable to break through the glass ceiling that seems to separate him from the belt.
When the two met, "Cowboy" reminded everyone that, in spite of recent difficulties, he is one of the lightweight division's greatest dual threats, taking the fight with an impressive second-round submission. So what did we learn from this?
Donald Cerrone is Still Damn Good
We haven't seen it in a while, but Donald Cerrone, as stated, is one of the best at 155 pounds in terms of being able to threaten submissions on the ground while owning knockout power standing. We got to see both those aspects during the fight.
In the first round, Cerrone repeatedly clipped Dunham with knees. As soon as things started to move toward grappling, Cerrone landed a sweet takedown and would eventually lock up a tight triangle choke to take the win.
There is no doubting that he is an honest-to-goodness beast.
Cerrone is Still Damn Good and Would be a Monster at Featherweight
Cerrone opened up last week about his plans to drop down to featherweight following this fight. If he actually does it...wow. I can't think of many people who can challenge him.
His length gives him a unique advantage over the current crop of fighters at 145 pounds. His raw knockout power can set up finishes over any hypothetical opponent.
If he drops, and if he pulls it off well...damn. He could be fighting for the belt in early 2015.
Evan Dunham Still Isn't There Yet
On paper, Dunham's wrestling should have made this fight, at the very least, competitive. In this case, the paper lied, and Cerrone just kind of manhandled Dunham.
That's bad. While I said back in February that Dunham was unlikely to find himself fighting for the belt at age 31 with Gleison Tibau as the only relevant name on his resume, this was a major opportunity to vault into the title picture. It just didn't go his way.
At this point, it's feeling like it never will.
Donald Cerrone Was Pondering Retirement
"Cowboy" said this in the post-fight press conference. Crazy, right?
After this sort of performance, though, he is opening a new chapter in his career.