Rafael dos Anjos made Donald Cerrone look ordinary.
Dos Anjos blasted through “Cowboy” with a wicked body kick and follow-up punches to retain the Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight title in the UFC on Fox 17 headliner on Saturday at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida. Cerrone (28-7, 15-4 UFC) succumbed to blows 66 seconds into round one, his run of eight straight victories at an end.
The champion got right to it. He jumped Cerrone with his ever-improving hands, softened him with a knee to the midsection and doubled over the Jackson-Wink MMA rep with a left kick to the solar plexus. Cerrone never recovered. Dos Anjos (25-7, 14-5 UFC) swarmed with punches, sprawled out of a desperate takedown attempt, wheeled to the back and put it away with unanswered rights to the head.
Overeem Stops Favored Dos Santos
In the heavyweight co-main event, former Dream and Strikeforce champion Alistair Overeem disposed of Junior dos Santos with second-round punches. Overeem (40-14, 5-3 UFC) drew the curtain 4:43 into round two, as he extended his current winning streak to three fights.
Dos Santos (17-4, 11-3 UFC) appeared tentative and unsure of himself, his potent right hand cocked but rarely thrown. Overeem picked his spots. He smashed the Brazilian in the nose with a crushing left hand in what was an otherwise tepid first round and opened multiple cuts, one near the right eye, with a wicked two-punch combination in the second. Outside of a flurry along the fence, dos Santos’ offense was virtually non-existent.
Late in the second round, Overeem stepped in with a savage left hook and floored the onetime UFC titleholder. Subsequent hammerfists on the dazed and exposed dos Santos prompted referee Dan Miragliotta to act.
Diaz Upends Blackzilians’ Johnson
Clean combination punching carried “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 5 winner Nate Diaz to a unanimous verdict against Michael Johnson in a featured battle at 155 pounds. In his first appearance inside the Octagon in more than a year, Diaz (18-10, 13-8 UFC) swept the scorecards with identical 29-28 marks from the judges.
Johnson (16-10, 8-6 UFC) focused on the Californian’s lead leg with kicks in the first round and then abandoned them in favor of headhunting. Diaz capitalized on his strategic blunder. The 30-year-old operated behind a stinging right jab and fed the Blackzilians standout a relentless stream of basic two-punch combinations. Johnson faded down the stretch, undone by the Cesar Gracie protégé’s accurate and hyperactive hands.
According to preliminary FightMetric data, Diaz out-landed Johnson 115-71 in total strikes over the final two rounds. The 29-year-old Johnson has followed a four-fight winning streak with back-to-back losses.
Debuting Kowalkiewicz Outpoints Markos
Karolina Kowalkiewicz made a successful promotional debut and kept her perfect professional record intact, as she captured a unanimous decision from “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 20 semifinalist Randa Markos in a three-round women’s strawweight showcase. All three cageside judges scored it for the unbeaten Kowalkiewicz (8-0, 1-0 UFC): 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27.
Markos (5-3, 1-2 UFC) did well in the clinch and from top position -- she spent much of the second round attached to the Pole’s back -- but lacked the weaponry necessary to deal with the KSW veteran on the feet. Kowalkiewicz pulled away from the Tristar Gym rep in round three, where she uncorked a spinning backfist, scrambled out of an attempted takedown and battered her with elbows before advancing to full mount and unleashing more punishment.