Chan Sung Jung took on short-notice replacement Yair Rodriguez in the UFC Fight Night 139 main event on Saturday in Denver. Their five-round slobberknocker ended with a buzzer-beating elbow strike from Rodriguez that became an immediate frontrunner for “Knockout of the Year.” With mere seconds remaining in the fifth and final round, Rodriguez ducked a blitzing combination from “The Korean Zombie” and delivered a no-look upward elbow that sent an unconscious Jung crashing to the canvas and whipped the crowd into a frenzy.
The fight played out across 24-plus minutes and was contested solely on the feet. Rodriguez was content to play off of his back foot from the start, circling along the cage while looking to establish distance between himself and Jung before going to work with his unorthodox kicking game. Jung, meanwhile, was determined to press forward, stalking “The Ultimate Fighter Latin America” winner all over the Octagon while trying to tee off with precise punching combinations. They were a perfect match. “The Korean Zombie” enjoyed success in the striking exchanges for much of the fight.
Jung moved in for one final attempt on Rodriguez’s chin in the waning seconds of the fight. “Pantera” in the blink of an eye ducked and instinctively countered with a pinpoint upward elbow to the South Korean’s chin, rendering him unconscious before he hit the floor.
Donald Cerrone entered the co-main event opposite “Platinum” Mike Perry in an unfamiliar position. For the first time in his Ultimate Fighting Championship career, Cerrone was without the aid of the Jackson-Wink MMA camp. After a falling out with his longtime team, “Cowboy” walked out with something to prove and promptly submitted Perry with an armbar in the first round.
As the fight began, Cerrone moved into grappling range, grabbed Perry and tried to drag him to the mat. Perry defended his advances before executing a takedown of his own and landing in side control. Cerrone sprang a reversal and went to work on submissions, transitioning from a rear-naked choke to a triangle before settling on the armbar. “Cowboy” adjusted his position, cinched the maneuver and forced the tap.
The submission -- Cerrone’s first by armbar in more than a decade -- moved “Cowboy” into first place on the UFC’s all-time list in wins and finishes. Cerrone brought his infant son into the cage afterward, as he was all smiles before a hometown crowd. He also reaffirmed his plans to return to the lightweight division and sent a message to 155-pound champion Khabib Nurmagomedov: “I’m coming for that belt.”
Germaine de Randaime returned to action for the first time since winning the women’s featherweight championship against Holly Holm nearly two years ago. De Randaime put the ring rust talk to rest, taking home a clear-cut unanimous decision victory over former title contender Raquel Pennington at 135 pounds. Over the course of three rounds, de Randaime showed clean and precise boxing technique, utilizing every inch of her reach advantage to pick apart her opponent and stuff every single takedown attempt in the fight. The win was de Randamie’s fourth straight and makes her a serious player in the bantamweight division.
After struggling through a three-fight drought that saw him go 0-2-1, Beneil Dariush picked up his first win since November 2016 with a dominant decision over former Resurrection Fighting Alliance champion Thiago Moises. Dariush put on a grappling clinic across three rounds, as he planted Moises on his back repeatedly and hunted for rear-naked chokes. It resulted in three lopsided scorecards for the Kings MMA product: 30-25, 30-25 and 30-26.
Maycee Barber used her appearance on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series as springboard and kept her undefeated record intact with a dazzling UFC debut, as she took out Hannah Cifers in the second round of their women’s strawweight showcase. It was a brutal mailing that saw Barber turn Cifers into a bloody mess with slashing standing elbows and destructive ground-and-pound. After the fight, the 20-year-old blue-chip prospect called to be paired with 2015 Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships gold medalist Mackenzie Dern.