The New Jersey native may have gone down, but the UFC card in Atlantic City could not have been any better for their Mixed Martial Arts fans. The card alone only had two decisions, while displaying a wide array of finishes for the common fan to appreciate. The women fought their hearts out on the big stage, and the strawweight division finally made its highly anticipated debut in New Jersey. The main event ended with a head kick, the co-main event ended with a body kick; which does not include body shot finishes, and even the lone slick submission performed by Rick Story. The MMA Spotlight is quite finicky to start this review of all the action that transpired tonight inside the cage, time to get to it.
Donald Cerrone defeats Jim Miller via KO (Head Kick) rd. 2 – Cerrone is making no mistake about it, he wants a quick turnaround after his knockout victory over Jim Miller Wednesday night. Cerrone wants back into the cage as soon as possible so mark it on the calendars and call matchmaker Joe Silva, “Cowboy” is ready to go. It only took two rounds, and practically two finishes in one round, for Cerrone to put an exclamation point in the main event against Miller. The native New Jersey boy, Jim Miller, had his moments throughout the fight as well; landing plenty of his own effective shots, while landing a take down or two in the first round. In the second round, Cerrone landed a legal front kick to Miller’s stomach that dropped him to his knees in pain. The “Cowboy” pounced in on Miller looking to finish the fight, but the ref stepped in, ruling it as a low blow, but that did allow Miller the allotted time to recover from such a blow. The fight continued on, but it practically became a matter of time before Cerrone put his injured foe away. Cerrone stalked Miller around the octagon, peppering him with crisp combos and kicks varying up and down the body to the legs. Miller left the opening there and Cerrone took it, going high with a head kick, dropping Miller to the canvas and finishing the fight. This is now his fourth win in a row, and could potentially set up a fight with a top five opponent in his division. One name that immediately comes to mind is the fourth ranked Russian, Khabib Nurmagomedov. Cerrone mentioned a fight with him would be ideal before his fight tonight, and now the possibility of these two facing one another has become that much closer.
Edson Barboza defeats Evan Dunham via TKO (Body Kick/Punches) rd. 1 – Many wondered how Barboza would respond after being dismantled by Donald Cerrone in his last fight, and what a response he had. The fight was somewhat slow and resembled quite the feeling out process at the beginning, with the two having a few brief exchanges to open the round. It did not take long for Barboza to do what he does best though, which is to devastate using his kicks. One kick to the torso is all it took to send Dunham down in a heap of pain. Barboza followed up with some vicious ground and pound, leading the ref to step in, even though Dunham protested briefly after the stoppage. This victory may push Barboza into the top 10 rankings for the lightweight division, with his camp hoping for another shot at a top 10 opponent, or potentially someone out of the top five.
Rick Story defeats Leonardo Mafra via Submission (Head and Arm Choke) rd. 2 – Rick Story gets back into the win column with a very impressive submission finish over Leonardo Mafra. The “Story” of the fight was Rick Story’s wrestling and constant pressure on the young Brazilian, not allowing the heavy-handed Mafra to get many of his punches off. Story made the switch down south to Arizona to mix up his training camp, and it looked like it may have been a key part in his victory tonight. The veteran welterweight kept to the game plan and took down Mafra with ease. In the second round, he turned it up a notch and sunk in the first submission of the night. This loss marks Mafra’s second straight defeat inside the octagon, when his first loss sent him packing. Now fans will have to wait and see if he sticks around a little longer this go round.
Joe Proctor defeats Justin Salas via TKO (Strikes) Rd. 2 – The guy had an alien-like hematoma forming on the side of his ear, but Joe Proctor was able to sneak in a counter left hook to send his aggressive foe, Justin Salas, flailing to the floor. The stoppage may have been a little less justified at first look, but there was not doubt about it; Justin Salas was in undeniable trouble from that counter punch Proctor landed. The two were hard-pressed to answer the call after such a fight from the bout before, but neither of them backed down from the challenge, as both came out winging it in the very first round. Salas seemed to have the upper hand early, as the two wailed strikes at each other, with Salas connecting with the better shots. The tides turned quickly though, and Proctor landed the final strikes to end the fight. Joe Proctor has now won three of his four fights in the UFC, with a two fight win streak.
John Lineker defeats Alptekin Ozkilic via TKO (Strikes) rd. 3 – Three rounds of pure amazement were seen as these two flyweights went toe to toe to the delight of the crowd before Lineker eventually landed his lights out fist of fury on his game Turkish foe. Lineker has been known for his stand up game and his powerful punches. What was surprising was the wrestler Ozkilic was just as willing to stand in there and trade with someone such as Lineker. Ozkilic was not doing himself any favors doing so, but may have earned quite a few fans watching around the world after that tough as nails performance inside the octagon. Lineker worked the body flawlessly throughout the fight, using the left hook to the body, right hook to the temple combo; multiple times before it connected just right and sent his opponent to the mat. Lineker is calling for a UFC title fight after this victory. It may be interesting to follow Lineker’s flyweight status in the coming months.
Lucas Martins defeats Alex White via KO (Punches) rd. 3 – Alex White’s chin was made of granite in the early going, as it seemed as if everything Martins was throwing was finding a home on White’s chin. White stood tall during the exchanges, and finally met his doom in the third round. Lucas Martins countered White perfectly with a right hook that landed flush on White’s cheek, dropping the former undefeated fighter to the mat. From there, it was just a matter of seconds it took the referee to pull Martins off his defeated foe. What an impressive finish for Lucas Martins, with it being his first fight in his new weight class.
In other notable fights include: Claudia Gadelha did not disappoint in the first ever women’s strawweight fight in the UFC. Leslie Smith landed a devastating liver punch to Jessamyn Duke, while finishing her up with knees to the body and shots to the face before the ref stepped in to call the fight. The Ray Longo and Matt Serra camp keeps surging, as rising young prospect Aljemain Sterling continued his success by dismantling Hugo Viana in the 3rd round. For the full results of the preliminary bouts, please check below.
Gleison Tibau defeats Pat Healy via Unanimous Decision
Leslie Smith defeats Jessamyn Duke via TKO (Strikes) rd.1
Aljemain Sterling defeats Hugo Viana via TKO (Strikes) rd.3
Yosdenis Cedeno defeats Jarrod Sanders via TKO (Injury) rd.1
Claudia Gadelha defeats Tina Lahdemaki via Unanimous Decision
The buck does not stop here for the week as the Ultimate Fighting Championship heads to Dublin, Ireland Saturday night. “The Notorious” Conor McGregor hopes to continue his rise to fame as he takes on a tough Brazilian in Diego Brandao. Follow the Guardian Liberty Voice, as the MMA Spotlight will continue coverage throughout the week for anything, and everything, UFC.
Commentary by Justin Huffman
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Guardian Liberty Voice Sports Writer leading the coverage in MMA