UFC Fight Night main event ends with win by Cerrone
February 22, 2016 12:00 AM
Donald Cerrone, in black, fights Alex Oliveira in their UFC Fight Night bout held at Consol Energy Center Sunday.
Donald Cerrone is declared the winner against Alex Oliveira in their UFC Fight Night bout held at Consol Energy Center.
In the most decisive defeat Sunday of the UFC’s Fight Night, Chris Camozzi defeated fellow middleweight Joe Riggs in 26 seconds.
By Craig Meyer / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
From the moment it was set, Donald Cerrone’s Feb. 21 fight with Alex Oliveira was billed as “Cowboy vs. Cowboy,” playing off the fact the two mixed martial artists share the same nickname and were both once professional bull riders.
Ultimately, though, Consol Energy Center wouldn’t be big enough for the both of them, something Cerrone wasted little time proving.
In the first round of their bout Sunday night, Cerrone threw his opponent to the mat and constricted his left leg around Oliveira’s neck, putting him in a hold that forced Oliveira to tap out and award Cerrone a victory via submission just 2:27 into the match.
“This was the first time I really felt alive out there,” Cerrone said. “I had [middleweight fighter Derek] Brunson back there dancing to country music with me. It was good.
“This fight was for me. I was telling my buddies I’ve got nothing to worry about. I’m not on a winning streak, I’m at a weight class I’m not even in. This was just for fun and it totally was, man. This week, the whole build-up and whole experience, I told my guys there was nowhere else I’d rather be than right here tonight.”
Cerrone, the fifth-ranked lightweight fighter in the UFC, was fighting up as a welterweight, eager to take a bout as quickly as he could after a loss late last year to Rafael dos Anjos. He was originally scheduled to fight Tim Means, but in early February, Means was yanked after a drug-testing violation.
The victory was Cerrone’s ninth in his past 10 fights while the loss was the first in six career matches for Oliveira. Given the narrow window his opponent had to train, Cerrone expressed his deep respect for Oliveira.
“They billed this fight ‘Cowboy vs. Cowboy’ and saying there was only room for one,” Cerrone said. “I don’t know if it gets more cowboy than him stepping up and taking a fight on two weeks’ notice. To me, I give him the feather out of my hat I’ve had since I was a kid.”
Cerrone’s triumph was far from the only highlight on a night featuring 12 other fights.
Though Cody Garbrandt isn’t technically a local product — his hometown of Uhrichsville, Ohio is 85 miles away, something he reiterated in the lead-up to the fight — the scene greeting him inside the arena on his walk to the octagon indicated something else entirely. On that stage and in front of that crowd, Garbrandt shined, scoring a technical knockout about four minutes into his fight against Augusto Mendes.
It was the eighth win of his burgeoning professional career in as many tries.
“It was a crazy, hectic week, but I knew my fans were expecting me to perform and that’s exactly what I did,” Garbrandt said. “I was physically and mentally preparing to fight on Feb. 21 and nothing was going to keep me from doing that.”
Even when his punches weren’t landing out of the gate, Garbrandt assumed control early on against Mendes, who was thrust onto the card earlier this week after John Lineker pulled out due to illness. Known as a particularly strong striker, Garbrandt threw several forceful hooks in the first round, but Mendes, a Brazilian jiu jitzu champion, would avoid them and back away.
After a while, an opening emerged. A right hook struck Mendes’ face, which Garbrandt followed with a left hook and another right. Mendes went down and after pausing briefly, thinking he had won, Garbrandt hit Mendes across the face two more times before the official stepped in.
“He was dead man laying,” Garbrandt said.
Garbrandt leapt on top of the padding of the cage, a leg on each side, and soaked in the applause.
The fervor surrounding that win gave way to the ensuing fight, one that ended even more abruptly. In one of two matchups pitting ranked fighters against one another, Brunson, the No. 13 middleweight fighter, scored a TKO just 2:22 into his bout with No. 15 Roan Carneiro.
Brunson, literally and figuratively, jumped on the 37-year-old Brazilian immediately. He got Carneiro to the mat and showered him with punches. Although Carneiro broke out, he ended up in the same position moments later. This time, the fight was stopped.
Like Garbrandt, Brunson had his moment of glory after the win, giving a shout-out to Steelers receiver Antonio Brown, who was sitting ringside with some of his teammates, in the post-fight interview.
“I’ve been working my whole life on hard work, dedication and sacrifices,” Brunson said. “It’s all starting to pay off.”
Dennis Bermudez, Chris Camozzi and James Krause notched wins in the other three fights on the event’s main card, with Camozzi’s bout against UFC veteran Joe Riggs ending in just 26 seconds.
The announced attendance for the event was 7,330, with a gate of $572,547. In 2011, the last time the UFC held an event in Pittsburgh, the announced attendance was 7,792.
Craig Meyer: email@example.com and Twitter@CraigMeyerPG.
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