Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone added another spectacular finish to his resume. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Edson Barboza was a fighter many astute MMA fans were getting behind heading into his UFC on Fox 11 clash with Donald Cerrone on Saturday at the Amway Center in Orlando, Fla. Barboza owned a 13-1 record, including a 7-1 mark since debuting with the Ultimate Fighting Championship in 2011. There was plenty to see and like, and it is always better to get in on the hype early than to be one of the last people on the bandwagon.
There was only one small problem here: Some people seemed to forget about the quality of Cerrone. The “Cowboy” is part brawler, part technician -- a fighter who was more than ready to put his full skills on display.
“I don’t know what was going on early on,” the longtime lightweight contender said after he submitted Barboza in the first round, “but then the two golden words came into my mind: ‘[Expletive] it.’”
Cerrone uncharacteristically looked a little reluctant to engage early on, especially after Barboza got the better of exchanges in the opening minute. However, later in the round, Cerrone changed everything with one simple jab. It knocked down his opponent, and before Barboza even knew what was going on, he was tapping to Cerrone’s rear-naked choke. Cerrone was later awarded one of the UFC’s $50,000 performance awards for his outstanding finish and was once again talking about his desire to have six fights inside the Octagon this year.
“Any fight ... I’m ready for Baltimore next weekend if that’s a possibility,” Cerrone said.
UFC President Dana White did not seem to have any problem with the notion when it was brought up at the post-fight press conference.
“I love this kid; he’s nutty as hell,” White said. “If this kid could fight 16 times in a year, I’d love to have him on every card.”
While publically Cerrone talks more about the number of fights he wants, the reality is he is more interested in hearing two other words sooner rather than later: title fight.
When White said he had Liz Carmouche winning the first two rounds of her three-round co-main event with Miesha Tate, even though she lost the fight, you know there is going to be some good debates on what really went down.
“If you look at the second round, Liz didn’t really do any damage. She took her down and held her,” White said, as he explained the idea that the second frame was closely contested and could have gone either way. “If you want to guarantee yourself a victory, take the judges out of it. Finish fights. I say it all the time.”
Even Tate was not sure she had done enough to win.
“I wasn’t confident I won it, to be perfectly honest,” she said. “I thought she won the fight because she had more riding time.”
Carmouche controlled the first round with an effective use of striking and grappling. However she was not nearly as aggressive in round two, allowing Tate to climb back into the fight. After the loss, it was revealed she had a wrist issue that resulted in her receiving a post-fight medical suspension. Perhaps the injury was what hampered Carmouche after the opening five minutes.
Tate gave her opponent plenty of credit: “I expected Liz would be capable of taking the fight anywhere.”
Like Cerrone, Tate got off to a much slower start than in most of her previous fights.
“I was just trying not to be a psycho in the fight and be a little more calculated. I think I was struggling with a mental hurdle coming off of two losses,” she said. “I’m over the hurdle now. I won the fight; I’m happy. I have my first UFC victory, and I think that’s going to motivate me more.”
Satisfied with the win, Tate was quick to talk about the future.
“Next time,” she said, “it will be a faster start.”
The Fabricio Werdum-Travis Browne main event was something for which Fox executives asked. According to White, they have never requested a specific fight before. Werdum defeated Browne by unanimous decision in the heavyweight title eliminator, securing his shot at champion Cain Velasquez. “[Werdum] picked him apart. I think he could have finished Travis,” White said. Afterwards, Wedum did not appear to know he was at a post-fight press conference. Instead, he may have thought it was open mic night at the Improv. He was cracking jokes left and right and talking quite a bit. At one point, even his translator said he did not know what to do with Wedum’s comments when trying to translate them into English ... White addressed the news that boxing judge and former FBI agent Robert Bennett had been named executive director of the Nevada Athletic Commission. “I’m excited for change,” White said ... If Alistair Overeem and Anderson Silva morphed into one person -- at least in regards to their post-fight personas and wardrobes -- you would likely get Yoel Romero Palacio. “Is it just me, or is he the Cuban Godfather?” White asked after he listened to the soft-voiced middleweight offer answers during the post-fight press conference. Romero, a 2000 Olympic silver medalist in freestyle wrestling, defeated Brad Tavares by unanimous decision to improve to 4-0 in the UFC ... Perhaps the most popular topic of discussion around the arena centered on a possible return of Gina Carano. “We don’t have a deal with her yet,” White said, “[but] I’m confident that we will.” During the post-fight scrum, White also revealed that Carano told him something interesting about her weight. “She’s absolutely positive she can make 135 pounds. She said, ‘My life is a lot different now than when I was in my 20s. Do you realize the whole time I fought I never had a real training camp?’ It is fascinating talking to her. She is one of the most charming people I’ve ever met.”
The $1.65 million gate was the second highest ever recorded at the Amway Center, trailing The Eagles by $30,000. “I’ll come back next weekend,” White said. “It’s a great town. I’m sold.” White indicated that former Orlando Magic center Shaquille O’Neal had been urging him to stage an event in Orlando for quite a while. “Shaq has been terrorizing me for years to come here,” White said. “He was right. It was great.”