Leon "Rocky" Edwards got his chance to shine against a veteran fighter in Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone, and he didn't shy away from the moment. The welterweight scored a unanimous-decision victory over Cerrone in the main event for UFC Fight Night 132 from Kallang, Singapore.
Edwards took the early lead in the first round. The Brit started by accumulating some points in the clinch as he bloodied Cerrone's face with elbows, then he started to work leg kicks in the stand-up.
Peter Carroll of MMA Fighting noted Edwards' cool approach in his first time in the spotlight:
The second frame proved to be more of the same. Edwards just got more comfortable with his lead and continued to hold the upper hand wherever the fight went, manhandling his opponent in the clinch and beating him at distance with his kickboxing.
The third saw Cerrone pick up the pace a bit. Cowboy showed signs of life as he opened with a flurry of punches and started to connect against Edwards. Regardless, Edwards still won the round on account of his ability to hit elbows off the clinch breaks and still win the striking exchanges with his power.
Cerrone went to his wrestling in the slow-paced fourth, landing two takedowns, but neither led to anything resembling offense for Cowboy. Instead, it looked like another round for Edwards as he landed more strikes of consequence.
Cowboy continued to test Edwards' cardio into the fifth, landing a takedown and holding him down in half guard, but the 26-year-old held strong and lasted. It wasn't a flashy round for the eventual winner, but it was enough to get to the scorecards where he was a unanimous winner.
After the bout, the welterweight called out Jorge Masvidal:
With a win over a name-brand opponent in the main event, it's fair to say that Edwards has more big fights headed his way.
Outside of the highlighted welterweight bout, it was a card stocked with veterans looking to get back on the right track and young prospects looking to get momentum.
Here's a look at the complete results from Singapore and a closer look at each of the main-card bouts.
Main Card (UFC Fight Pass)
- Leon Edwards def. Donald Cerrone via unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 48-47)
- Ovince Saint Preux def. Tyson Pedro via submission (armbar) at 2:54 of Round 1
- Jessica Eye def. Jessica-Rose Clark via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
- Li Jingliang def. Daichi Abe via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)
Preliminary Card (UFC Fight Pass)
- Petr Yan def. Teruto Ishihara via TKO (punches) at 3:28 of Round 1
- Yadong Song def. Felipe Arantes via TKO (elbow and punches) at 4:59 of Round 2
- Shane Young def. Rolando Dy via TKO (elbow and punches) at 4:40 of Round 2
- Kenan Song def. Hector Aldana via TKO (punches) at 4:45 of Round 2
- Jake Matthews def. Shinsho Anzai via technical submission (rear-naked choke) at 3:44 of Round 1
- Yan Xiaonan def. Viviane Pereira via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
- Matt Schnell def. Naoki Inoue via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
- Ulka Sasaki def. Jenel Lausa via submission (rear-naked choke) at 4:04 of Round 2
- Ji Yeon Kim def. Melinda Fabian via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Ovince Saint Preux vs. Tyson Pedro
It really looked like Ovince Saint Preux was going to get starched.
Tyson Pedro melted OSP early in the fight with a quick straight right that showcased the Australian's athleticism and power.
Then things went south for Pedro really quickly.
Rather than finish the fight, Pedro allowed the bout to get to the ground. Saint Preux turned the tables quickly and gained top position. From there, he went to work on a straight armbar and forced the tap in short order.
It was an incredible display of resiliency for OSP, but a disappointing lack of Fight IQ from Pedro. The 26-year-old still has plenty of promise in the light heavyweight division, but this could have been his breakout performance.
Instead, it was a win for OSP that put his finishing ability in some elite company in the light heavyweight division.
Jessica Eye vs. Jessica Rose-Clark
It's safe to say Jessica Eye made the right choice to move down to flyweight.
After a 1-5 run in the bantamweight division, she's now 2-0 as a flyweight with a unanimous-decision win over Jessica Rose-Clark. It was by no means a one-sided affair. Rose-Clark was a closely matched opponent for Eye as they engaged in competitive striking exchanges throughout the bout.
Eye was a little more consistent in landing cleanly and also scored a takedown in the third round that felt like it sealed the fight.
Sherdog gave Eye props for being more aggressive than she has been in the past:
Obviously, Eye's run as a bantamweight was marked by disappointment, but two wins in a row at flyweight lends credence to the idea that she may have simply been in the wrong weight class.
Women's flyweight is among the most unsettled divisions in the organization, so Eye will certainly get her opportunities to prove her worth.
Li Jingliang vs. Daichi Abe
Both Li Jingliang and Daichi Abe came into Singapore off losses at UFC 221, but Jingliang has clearly progressed since that disappointment. He scored a lopsided unanimous decision over Abe to kick off the main card.
Jingliang unleashed a brutal striking performance that focused on chopping down Abe's lead leg with vicious kicks and looking for a knockout with the overhand right.
Jingliang couldn't find the knockout as Abe proved to have the chin of Thanos, but it was a strong enough effort to convince the judges.
The welterweight had a three-fight streak of Fight of the Night or Performance of the Night awards heading into the event. With a win, he's proved that he's worthy of being a staple in the division, but whether he ever climbs to the status of contender remains to be seen.