UFC traveled to Ergo Arena in Gdansk, Poland, on Saturday evening for a card jam-packed with head-turning tilts, and it was Donald Cerrone and Darren Till who shone in the main event as they battled for welterweight supremacy.
A women's strawweight clash between Karolina Kowalkiewicz and Jodie Esquibel, meanwhile, headlined the co-main event.
Here's a rundown of the evening's results as well as a recap of the action.
Main Card Results
- Darren Till def. Donald Cerrone via first-round TKO (punches, 4:20)
- Karolina Kowalkiewicz def. Jodie Esquibel via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Jan Blachowicz def. Devin Clark via second-round submission (rear-naked choke, 3:02)
- Oskar Piechota def. Jonathan Wilson via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Josh Emmett def. Felipe Arantes via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-25)
- Aspen Ladd def. Lina Lansberg via second-round TKO (2:33)
- Warlley Alves def. Salim Touahri via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
- Andre Fili def. Artem Lobov via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Ramazan Emeev def. Sam Alvey via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Brian Kelleher def. Damian Stasiak via third-round TKO (3:39)
- Marcin Held def. Nasrat Haqparast via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
The night belonged to Till, and it wasn't particularly close.
In a big spot against Cowboy Cerrone, Till lived up to the hype and justified his place in the welterweight division as he sent the 34-year-old packing with a power-packed performance that was buoyed by tactical superiority in all phases.
Bloody Elbow offered an overview of the dominant outing:
ESPN.com's Brett Okamoto noted Till stepped up with a chance to bolster his profile:
With the win in hand, Till understandably wasn't short on confidence.
"I'm a f--king light heavyweight fighting in the welterweight division," he said, per MMA Fighting (warning: NSFW language) on Twitter. "Look how powerful I am."
Till also wasted no time in cutting an epic promo, as he called out Mike Perry—who was conveniently stationed ringside, as UFC showed on Twitter (warning: NSFW language):
Fans should be ecstatic, too, because Perry didn't hesitate to accept the 24-year-old's challenge:
In other words, get your popcorn ready.
The early story on the main card revolved around hometown favorite Oskar Piechota, who maintained his undefeated record (10-0-1) with a thorough unanimous-decision defeat of Jonathan Wilson.
In control from start to finish, Piechota imposed his will against the American and sent him to the mat with a vicious right hand toward the end of Round 2, as UFC documented on Twitter:
Wilson was ultimately saved by the bell and battled to the finish in Round 3, but Piechota rode raucous energy from the Polish faithful to a victory on his biggest stage yet.
"The crowd took my level even higher tonight," he said after the win, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal's Heidi Fang. "Without them it would have been a lot harder."
Polish dominance continued in the ensuing bout, which pitted Jan Blachowicz against challenger Devin Clark in back-and-forth light heavyweight action:
But unlike Piechota, whom Wilson pushed the distance, Blachowicz stopped the proceedings in Round 2 when he embraced Clark in an instant and set up a rear-naked choke out of nowhere to take home the win:
By virtue of the win, Blachowicz was able to snap a two-match losing streak and regain his footing. And just like Piechota, he credited a return home for sparking his performance.
"It's been an emotional week because everything started here," he said, per Fang. "You can never stop doing what you love because of obstacles."
It was also a night of redemption for Karolina Kowalkiewicz, who found her footing following consecutive losses to Claudia Gadelha and Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
In need of a bounce-back performance, Kowalkiewicz brought the heat and applied pressure on Jodie Esquibel with punches and knees:
Now back on the winning track, Kowalkiewicz is primed for a step up in the division with Brazilian Jessica Andrade in her sights, per Okamoto:
The 26-year-old will pose a stiff test for Kowalkiewicz if the fight is ultimately made, but her performance Saturday evening should inspire confidence that she can continue her climb up the strawweight ranks as 2018 approaches.
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