Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone proved he's the only cowboy in the UFC. He defeated Alex "Cowboy" Oliveira via triangle choke in the first round on Sunday night in Pittsburgh at UFC Fight Night 83.
Cerrone was originally supposed to face Tim Means, but the latter had to be replaced when he was suspended for violating anti-doping regulations. Oliveira normally fights at lightweight, but he had to come up to 170 pounds to take on Cerrone, who himself moved up a weight class after being destroyed by 155-pound champion Rafael dos Anjos in his last fight.
Cerrone has gained a sterling reputation for his striking, but he proved his submission game is still elite Sunday.
After trading knees with Oliveira in the early moments, Cerrone proved to be at home working off his back. He quickly locked in the triangle when the fight went to the ground, and it didn't take long for Oliveira to tap.
Referee Mario Yamasaki didn't notice Oliveira's submission at first. In fact, Cerrone had to point it out before Yamasaki signaled for the end of the fight. UFC President Dana White wasn't complimentary of Yamasaki after the bout:
Dana White @danawhite
10 taps before Yamasaki stops it after @Cowboycerrone tells him!!! And he was looking right at it......WOW!!!!! 👎🏼👎🏼👎🏼👎🏼2016-2-22 04:41:49
When it was over, Cerrone had an awesome quote for any potential opponents, per the UFC on Twitter:
"If you wanna get hurt, I know a guy" - @CowboyCerrone #UFCPittsburgh https://t.co/HXjGIXBxxB2016-2-22 04:41:58
Despite his failures to win a title at 155 pounds, his hardworking, fight-anybody attitude continues to make Cerrone a crowd favorite. Fans across the world will wait patiently to see who the real Cowboy faces next.
Brunson Makes Quick Work of Carneiro
In the co-main event, Derek Brunson came out fighting as if he were double-parked. It was clear from his aggression he had designs of getting Roan Carneiro out of there quickly. Mission accomplished.
It took just two minutes, 38 seconds to get the finish.
Carneiro fought off his heels the entire fight. Brunson chased him across the cage, ultimately pinned his fallen opponent against it and pounded him until the referee called for a stop to the bout.
Brunson came into the fight ranked 13th in the middleweight division. He might take a slight jump after this dominant performance. We'll see who's next for him.
|UFC Fight Night 83 Results|
|Fight Pass Prelims|
|Anthony Hamilton vs. Shamil Abdurakhimov||Heavyweight||Abdurakhimov by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)|
|Lauren Murphy vs. Kelly Faszholz||Women's Bantamweight||Murphy by 3rd-Round TKO|
|Marion Reneau vs. Ashlee Evans-Smith||Women's Bantamweight||Evans-Smith by Split Decision (30-27, 29-27, 28-29)|
|Fox Sports 1 Prelims|
|Jonavin Webb vs. Nathan Coy||Welterweight||Coy by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)|
|Anthony Smith vs. Leonardo Augusto Leleco||Middleweight||Smith by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)|
|Daniel Sarafian vs. Oluwale Bamgbose||Middleweight||Bamgbose by 1st-Round TKO|
|Alex Garcia vs. Sean Strickland||Welterweight||Strickland by 3rd-Round KO|
|James Krause vs. Shane Campbell||Lightweight||Krause by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)|
|Chris Camozzi vs. Joe Riggs||Middleweight||Camozzi by 1st-Round KO|
|Dennis Bermudez vs. Tatsuya Kawajiri||Featherweight||Bermudez by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)|
|Cody Garbrandt vs. Augusto Mendes||Bantamweight||Garbrandt by 1st-Round TKO|
|Derek Brunson vs. Roan Carneiro||Middleweight||Brunson by 1st-Round TKO|
|Donald Cerrone vs. Alex Oliveira||Welterweight||Cerrone by 1st-Round Submission (Triangle Choke)|
|Fox Sports Broadcast|
Murphy Wears Down Tough Last-Minute Replacement
Lauren Murphy was supposed to face Sarah Moras on Sunday night, but the latter had to pull out because of an injury. Her replacement gave Murphy all she could handle before succumbing to strikes from the mounted position in the final round.
Kelly Faszholz showed excellent hand speed, a sturdy chin and good athleticism in her impromptu UFC debut.
Faszholz's striking gave Murphy some issues in the first few minutes of the opening round. A consistent one-two combination found its mark on Murphy's chin regularly.
In one instance, Faszholz dropped Murphy with a counter right hand.
Murphy showed toughness and patience. Faszholz's combination of lack of experience and compromised conditioning reared its head. She suddenly slowed down, and Murphy turned up the heat. She began landing punches squarely on Faszholz's face, and the momentum shifted.
By the second round, Faszholz's tank looked empty, and Murphy took control. In the third and final round, Murphy took Faszholz down, and the latter had no answer off her back.
Murphy rained down punches until the referee called for an end to the bout with just under 15 seconds remaining. It'll go down as a loss in Faszholz's debut, but she made an excellent account of herself and deserves a few more appearances in the Octagon.
Bamgbose Destroys Sarafian
Oluwale Bamgbose is one of the most dangerous and quirky strikers in the UFC's middleweight division. During the Fox Sports 1 prelims, Bamgbose dropped Daniel Sarafian with a head kick—despite the fact that it was blocked—and pounded him out with hammer fists.
Bamgbose motioned toward the ground to make Sarafian look down. Suddenly, Bamgbose changed levels with the head kick that set up the finish. MMAFighting.com's Shaheen Al-Shatti marveled at Bamgbose's power:
Shaheen Al-Shatti @shaunalshatti
Bamgbose drops Sarafian with a BLOCKED head kick, then puts the lights out with an uppercut as Sarafian tries to stand. Wow. Crazy power.2016-2-22 01:15:13
After depleting Sarafian during the closing sequence, Bamgbose looked to kneel and pray over his fallen foe. All right, then. He lost his UFC debut to Uriah Hall in a listless performance, but he showed off the promise that had many excited about his arrival in the promotion.
You'll see this guy again sometime soon.
Strickland Powers Through Garcia
Sean Strickland is trying to make good on his potential. In the final Fox Sports 1 prelims match, he patiently took Alex Garcia apart before stopping him via strikes in the third and final round.
Per UFC.com, Strickland landed 84 significant strikes. Aside from two takedowns by Garcia, Strickland was in control throughout the fight. In the final round, Strickland's length (6'1") and superior conditioning spelled the end for Garcia.
Jabs and hard straight right hands put Garcia on wobbly legs. Strickland followed those up with a stiff right hand that put Garcia down, and the referee immediately stepped in to call for an end to the fight. Bleacher Report MMA shared a post-fight quote from Strickland:
Bleacher Report MMA @BR_MMA
Strickland's a likable guy. Gives a nod to crowd. "I heard you chanting my name and it fired me up, thanks for that."2016-2-22 01:56:14
Strickland looked like he was trying to appease the crowd as he chased the finish at the end. If he continues to build on this performance, he could become an even bigger crowd favorite.
Camozzi Knees Riggs into Oblivion
Joe Riggs took a beating in his battle with Chris Camozzi, and it took only 26 seconds. Riggs is as far past his prime in the Octagon as can be, and it showed, even against a mediocre fighter like Camozzi.
To the latter's credit, he looked to be in great shape and has now won four of his last fights. Still, Camozzi has reached his relatively low ceiling in the sport.
Nonetheless, he delivered a Grade-A beating to Riggs with a series of knees to the face in the clinch.
The UFC shared the brutal finish:
OHHH MYYY KNEES!!! @ChrisCamozzi #UFCPittsburgh https://t.co/7PjvA0RB9c2016-2-22 02:48:54
You won't see a more vicious knockout.
Garbrandt Shows Mendes No Love
Cody "No Love" Garbrandt is rapidly ascending the bantamweight rankings. He took out Augusto Mendes in the first round. A hard right hand and some follow-up strikes to his downed opponent spelled the end of the fight.
Garbrandt came in more hyped and highly regarded. He proved the hype was real as he destroyed Mendes with no issues. Per the Fox Sports broadcast, he's looking to face John Lineker in his next bout.
That could potentially be a slugfest, as both men have heavy hands. Hopefully, we'll get to see that one sooner rather than later.
London will be rocking as the UFC returns to the United Kingdom on Feb. 27.
The UFC is billing Fight Night 84 as the biggest Fight Pass card in history. It's not just hype. The return of Anderson Silva is no joke. The fact that the Spider is facing a well-known opponent like Michael Bisping only adds to the appeal.
The co-main event is another potentially excellent fight. Thales Leites will face Gegard Mousasi. Expect this event to break Fight Pass records.
Follow Brian Mazique on Twitter.