The UFC staged a pay-per-view quality card on free television Saturday night.
Rafael dos Anjos overwhelmed Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in the first round of their lightweight championship fight. The champion kicked Cowboy in the breadbasket, which set up a series of unanswered punches that compelled Herb Dean to give the longest of looks. Cerrone escaped only to experience hammerfists from the Brazilian that prompt the referee to stop the fight 66 seconds into the title tilt.
“Hey, Mr. McGregor, if you want to come to the lightweight division,” dos Anjos advised after the bout, “know that this is my division. You should stay at featherweight, man. I will fight you in Brazil. I will go to Ireland to face you.”
Junior dos Santos and Alistair Overeem dance through most of a tentative first round. Dos Santos plays the leading man, advancing toward a retreating Overeem. But the more passive man scores with a left with 70 seconds left. In the second, dos Santos lands a knee, the strike most know his opponent for, and several stand-alone punches. But business is mostly boring until Overeem clobbers dos Santos with a left that draws blood around the Brazilian’s right eye. Dos Santos wakes up and works the body against the cage, sending Overeem on his bicycle. Suddenly, a left hook by the Dutchman downs the former UFC heavyweight champion. A few perfunctory hammerfists by Overeem coax the stoppage with twenty seconds remaining in the round.
“Junior’s a very, very dangerous opponent,” Overeem reflected after the fight. “You have to fight very cautiously with him because he throws bombs.”
Nate Diaz used length and a stiff jab to keep Michael Johnson at bay in the first round of their lightweight tilt. Johnson countered with the leg kicks that Rafael Dos Anjos used effectively against the Stockton lightweight last year. In the second, Diaz the Younger stages a clinic in boxing and in trash-talking. The vintage performance included folding his arms, pointing at his opponent, and open-hand slaps—along with jabs and combinations that suggest that Diaz put his year off to excellent use. Diaz does more of the same in the third until Johnson scores with a punch and a takedown—but it’s too late. When it’s literally too late after the horn sounds, a hotdogging Diaz lands a kneebar, which prompts several kicks from a disgusted Johnson.
Diaz sweeps the cards with scores of 29-28. The UFC foolishly interviews the hyped-up Diaz brother on live television. Lip readers take offense. The rest of America makes out a word or two in a mostly muted-out discussion.
In other action, Nate Marquardt stopped C.B. Dollaway in the second round and Valentina Shevchenko edged Sarah Kaufmann in a split decision.