The Ultimate Fighting Championship never shies away from handing Donald Cerrone the keys to the car, and more often than not, that faith has been rewarded.
Cerrone turned the page on a career-worst three-fight losing streak, as he struck down Yancy Medeiros with punches in the first round of their UFC Fight Night 126 main event on Sunday at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas. Referee Herb Dean rescued Medeiros 4:58 into Round 1, saddling the Hawaiian with his first defeat in nearly two years.
After an embrace of mutual admiration during pre-fight instructions, the welterweights drew their guns and unloaded on one another. Preliminary FightMetric data showed they combined to throw 137 total strikes, all but one of which was deemed significant. Late in the first round, Cerrone short-circuited Medeiros with a right hook, chased him to the canvas and dropped punches with both hands until it was over. Dean gave Medeiros the opportunity to recover, but it became clear to the veteran official that two seconds of additional punishment might have been two seconds too many.
In the aftermath of UFC Fight Night “Cerrone vs. Medeiros,” here are five matches that ought to be made:
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Donald Cerrone vs. Neil Magny: Cerrone joined some select company by beating Medeiros, as he tied Georges St. Pierre and Michael Bisping for first on the all-time list with 20 UFC victories. In doing so, the soon-to-be 35-year-old showed he had plenty left in the tank and distanced himself from recent losses to Darren Till, Robbie Lawler and Jorge Masvidal. Nevertheless, age and mileage limit Cerrone’s upside as a middle- to upper-tier welterweight. Magny last competed at UFC 219 on Dec. 30, when he took a unanimous decision from Carlos Condit and moved his record inside the Octagon to 13-5.
Derrick Lewis vs. Stefan Struve-Andrei Arlovski winner: While he may never reach championship heights in the heavyweight division, Lewis rarely disappoints on the entertainment front. Taken down and mounted on multiple occasions, “The Black Beast” rallied for a third-round stoppage on former M-1 Global champion Marcin Tybura in the co-main event. The monstrous 6-foot-3, 265-pound Lewis now has 17 knockout wins to his credit, his reputation as one of MMA’s heaviest hitters justly earned. Struve and Arlovski will square off with former heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski at UFC 222 on March 3 in Las Vegas.
James Vick vs. Gregor Gillespie: Vick has gone overlooked far too long in the treacherous lightweight division. Even so, the Lloyd Irvin protégé won for the ninth time in 10 UFC appearances, as he pocketed a unanimous decision over former Jungle Fight titleholder Francisco Trinaldo in their showcase at 155 pounds. Since his ill-fated encounter with Beneil Dariush in June 2016, Vick has rattled off wins over Trinaldo, Joseph Duffy, Marco Polo Reyes and Abel Trujillo. Only Trinaldo survived to see the final bell. The undefeated Gillespie has been on a steady ascent since he arrived in the UFC some 17 months ago. He last fought at UFC on Fox 27, where he wiped out Jordan Rinaldi with punches on Jan. 27.
Curtis Millender vs. Ben Saunders-Alan Jouban winner: The UFC appears to have a late bloomer on its hands in Millender. The 30-year-old CSW export made a stellar promotional debut, as he knocked out American Top Team standout and former welterweight title contender Thiago Alves with a second-round knee strike. Millender finds himself on a seven-fight winning streak, his stock on the rise after proving he has the goods necessary to perform on the sport’s biggest stage. Saunders and Jouban will sling leather as part of the UFC on Fox 28 undercard on Feb. 24.
Sage Northcutt vs. Marco Polo Reyes: For all the hype and controversy surrounding him, Northcutt has still managed to carve out a 5-2 record in the UFC. The 21-year-old Team Alpha Male prospect took the latest step in his development, as he overcame significant adversity to defeat Thibault Gouti in a three-round decision. Northcutt still has miles to go before he can think about meeting the great expectations set before him by the UFC, but he has made progress and provided glimpses of what a promising future holds. Reyes last appeared at UFC Fight Night 124 on Jan. 14, when he knocked out Matt Frevola 60 seconds into their undercard pairing in St. Louis.