Sean McCorkle (above) made short work of short-notice foe Cameron Befort. | Photo: William Musacchia
MIAMI -- Sean McCorkle’s first post-UFC appearance was a quick one.
“Big Sexy” needed only 72 seconds to put away late replacement Cameron Befort in the headliner of Saturday’s Championship Fighting Alliance 2 at U.S. Century Bank Arena.
The superheavyweights met at the center of the cage and swung wildly. McCorkle connected with a stiff jab, which put Befort on the canvas. The Octagon vet immediately moved to half-guard, where he worked for a kimura and brought it to completion, earning the tap from Befort at 1:12 of the first round.
The 34-year-old Indianapolis fighter, now 11-2, was originally scheduled to meet Bellator veteran Mike Hayes. However, Hayes’ contractual obligations to Bellator reportedly prevented him from fighting outside the company, forcing Befort into action on just days’ notice.
The night, however, belonged to “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 8 winner Efrain Escudero and local unbeaten lightweight Mike Rio, who promised fireworks and kept their word.
Escudero was smiling from the outset; the smile went nowhere when Rio stuffed his first takedown, grabbed a headlock, and kneed him in the head. Escudero attacked Rio with guillotine chokes in the first and second rounds, but Rio escaped and slowly began to use his jab. As Rio began to find confidence standing, Escudero began to attack his legs and getting the better of the exchanges. The evenly-matched pair closed the second frame with a wild brawl that brought the Miami crowd to its feet.
The pace slowed in the third round, but both fighters were determined in the clinch. Escudero dropped for a takedown along the fence, and found himself caught in a Rio guillotine for a change. However, the MMA Lab fighter freed himself and took dominant position, holding it until the end of the fight. Hector Gomez saw the bout 30-27 for the winner Escudero, while Eliseo Rodriguez and Rich Green had it 29-28 for the Arizonan.
Lightweights ruled the card elsewhere as well, as CFA began an eight-man 155-pound title tournament. The evening's quarterfinals featured an amazing come-from-behind victory for Winter Haven, Fla.'s Patrick Cenoble, who overcame a bum wheel to stop Jerrid Burke in the second round.
After a hard Burke low kick, the 21-year-old Cenoble told referee Jorge Ortiz that he couldn't feel his left leg. Though he was cleared to continue, the first round ended with The Hardcore Gym fighter mounted on top of him and in clear control.
The second round started with what seemed to be disaster, as another Burke kick hurt Cenoble's leg. Burke went in for the kill, but was wasted with a hard overhand right for his troubles at 39 seconds into the second round, giving Cenoble the rousing victory.
An understudy of early-era UFC veteran Dieusel Berto -- father of the fighting Berto family -- the 21-year-old Cenoble is now 7-0 in his MMA campaign.
Undefeated Ohioan Trent McCown, now fighting out of Trenton, N.J., stayed unbeaten with a quick submission victory over the previously 8-0 Zach Juusola. After some circling, Juusola shot for a power double-leg takedown, only to find himself in a tight arm-in guillotine.
The Minnesota Fight Factory Representative was forced to tap just 27 seconds into the bout, suffering his first defeat.
It was the 21-year-old's fourth pro win in as many fights, adding to an also-unblemished 7-0 amateur mark.
After two minutes of back and forth action on the feet, Illinois' Christopher Garcia was able to surge forward and submit lightweight American Top Team Port St. Lucie's Rock Georges. Georges, who needed four attempts to make weight on Friday, had very little the first two minutes. Following a lazy shot, Georges left his arm exposed in a scramble, and the BJJ purple belt put him away at 2:32 of the first.
In the final lightweight tournament quarterfinal, local favorite Yoislandy Izquierdo thoroughly dominated Jayson Jones with roundhouse kicks on the feet, earning three easy 30-27 scorecards en route to a unanimous decision win. Jones was content to swing violently, and had little offense outside of briefly taking mount in the first round, leading to an easy night on the feet for the Cuban.
Danny Babcock outlasted jiu-jitsu standout Francisco France in a 205-pound brawl. "Kiko" survived a beating in the first round but France's chin would not continue to stand up to the test in the next frame however, as Babcock staggered him with a huge right hand, and following with a short left that had France staring up at the lights. Referee Jorge Ortiz officially ended the contest at 3:34 of the second round.
Brazilian welterweight Anderson Melo came up short in his stateside debut against countryman Ailton Barbosa. The 34-year-old ATT rep soundly outstruck Melo through the duration of the bout, forcing the Masters MMA product to shoot for a takedown, only to succumb to a triangle choke on the ground at 3:03 of the second
In a thrilling affair, New York-born, Chicago-based featherweight Lazar Stojadinovic took a unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28) over Tulio Quintanilla. Stojadinovic controlled the pace with his superior striking and positional dominance for the duration of the bout.
Miamian Chino Duran outlasted bantamweight Pablo Alfonso in a three-round battle by virtue of his wrestling. Duran earned three 30-27 scores with several takedowns, setting up shop in guard and earning the decision with body punches and elbows for the balance of 15 minutes.
Miami-based Nicaraguan Leo Valdivia came out aggressively, trying to chop Joseph Watson down with low kicks. However, Watson was able to use his overhand right and superior wrestling to get the fight to the ground where his clear advantage was obvious, taking 29-28 scores across the board.
At 150 pounds, Miami's Gabriel Verona opened the night with a crushing knockout of fellow local Cesar Serje. "Stunna" connected with a big right and followed Serje to the ground, forcing referee Jorge Ortiz to bring the bout to a halt in just 15 short seconds.