Saturday night is usually reserved for a game of puck in Chicago, but the Blackhawks gave way to the Octagon for UFC on Fox 10. The defending Stanley Cup champions were nowhere to be found, replaced by another sport heavy on action that could satiate the fans of the Windy City.
One tradition that's alive and well in hockey is the "Three Stars" at the end of the night. Win or lose, once the final buzzer goes three players who participated in the game will be called back to the ice for a little victory lap and a salute to the fans.
It's a great ritual, one that embraces sportsmanship after chaos in a way that's often seen in MMA. It's also one that's kind of adaptable to a card of caged combat.
With that in mind, here at the three stars of the evening for Chicago's UFC on Fox 10.
In a fight that most expected him to lose, Caceres came out with a warrior's performance against prodigious talent Sergio Pettis. After matching everything the young phenom could throw for three rounds, Caceres countered a heel hook with a swift sweep into a rear naked choke and locked up the finish with only 21 seconds left in the fight.
Caceres has been an animal since he dropped to 135, moving to 5-1-1 with the win (the no-contest was an overturned win as well). The world tuned into UFC on Fox 10 to see the younger Pettis brother pop another notch in his belt and continue his rise through the MMA ranks.
His opponent had other ideas, and that's the type of thing that earns a guy a star.
There will be plenty of talk about Thomson getting robbed against Benson Henderson, and there might even be some credence to it. Maybe he can get together with Frankie Edgar and Gilbert Melendez to start a support group, talk it out and find some closure.
At the end of the day, it's not about the end result for Thomson. Instead, it's about the fact that he, with only one good hand, nearly beat a former 155-pound champion. He broke it early and continued winging away with it, not allowing it to effect his standup to any great degree and really only showing ill effects when trying to close off submissions.
All in all it's a loss where his stock isn't greatly hurt, a match that showed his considerable talent on the feet and the ground and also showed the type of grit that only a man who's been in the game for 13 years often has.
This time a year ago, Donald Cerrone was in the same cage and the same city, his body repeatedly quaked by kicks until it shut down. The man who did it to him, Anthony Pettis, went on to become champion while Cerrone found himself in the exact same place a year later: fighting second on a Fox card in Chicago.
Apparently enthusiastic about the fight game again and looking to fight five more times in 2014, Cerrone got things started right with his devastating head kick of Adriano Martins. He has a penchant for laying quality beatings when paired off with guys ranked below him and UFC on Fox 10 was no exception, as he lashed Martins with leg kicks and combinations before going high for the finish.
If Cowboy gets half as many fights as he wants for the remainder of the year and looks half as good as he did tonight, he could be in title contention before the calendar turns to 2015.