In one of the most anticipated fights on Saturday night at the Amway Center in Orlando, Fla., Donald Cerrone came through with a big victory against Edson Barboza.
The two ranked lightweights were in a must-win scenario if they wanted to make a run toward the top of the division. Cerrone did exactly that.
Barboza and Cerrone delivered an exciting round of action before Cerrone got the stoppage, and they only increased their stocks in the division due to it. This is what we learned from the brief encounter on Fox.
What We'll Remember About This Fight
The electric finish.
Cerrone dropped Barboza with a jab and then seamlessly transitioned over to a rear-naked choke for the finish.
It came out of nowhere. The vision from Cerrone was impeccable and highly impressive. He did not try to go in for crazy ground-and-pound. He simply saw the opening and attacked it immediately. That is a rare trait in the sport.
Cerrone has been a well-rounded fighter for a long time, but his submission game is vastly underrated. Anytime he can stun his opponent with a strike it will only increase his ability to lock in a submission like he did at UFC on Fox 11.
What We Learned About Edson Barboza
We already knew how educated his hands and feet were, but we learned that he can somehow be even more explosive with his strikes.
The speed in which his hands and feet were moving in the bout was astonishing. He hit Cerrone several times just based on the speed alone. He looked incredibly sharp early on before the finish.
He may have lost, but his early performance on the feet should keep him even in the division. He won't drop too far down the ladder thanks in part to his impressive striking.
What We Learned About Donald Cerrone
I am not quite sure that we learned it, but we were reminded of how good he can be when he uses his fight IQ.
Cerrone could have went for ground-and-pound to try to finish Barboza, but he went for the open submission.
Far too often we see overzealous fighters go in for the kill on a wounded opponent only to give them time to grab hold and survive. Cerrone's vision allowed him to see the submission and apply it without issue. There was no out for Barboza.
He has, at times, chosen to stand and exchange instead of use his grappling. Other times we have seen him do what he did at UFC on Fox 11. When he utilizes his fight IQ he can be one of the elite fighters in the division.
What's Next for Edson Barboza
He will not drop too far down the ladder, and due to that, he should still get a top-15 fight in his next outing.
Bobby Green, ranked No. 14, had to drop out of his fight at UFC 172. A story that was confirmed to MMAJunkie.com.
If the injury is not serious, that would be a good fight for both men. The stylistic clash would challenge both men before moving up into top-10 competition.
What's Next for Donald Cerrone
There is no reason to rush the lightweight contenders into a title eliminator thanks to The Ultimate Fighter season 20, where Anthony Pettis and Gilbert Melendez will coach.
That gives the UFC a chance to put Cerrone in another exciting fight. A rematch with Nate Diaz would be stellar.
Diaz dominated their first encounter. The way Cerrone is fighting now would almost assuredly give us a more competitive and fun fight between two charismatic warriors. This is a fight the UFC could put together and headline a Fox Sports 1 card with, or co-main a future Fox card.
I want to see this fight again, and I am sure most fans would love it as well.
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