Stipe Miocic silenced a throng with one swing of his hammer.
Miocic knocked out Fabricio Werdum to become the undisputed Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight titleholder in the UFC 198 headliner on Saturday at Arena da Baixada in Curitiba, Brazil. An unconscious Werdum (20-6-1, 8-3 UFC) hit the canvas 2:47 into round one, an eerie hush passing over the 40,000-plus fans in attendance.
The two men traded punches and kicks before Werdum made his move -- and his mistake. The 38-year-old Kings MMA rep charged forward and walked right into a counter right hook from the backpedaling Miocic (15-2, 9-2 UFC). His lights were out before he landed on the mat, his reign atop the heavyweight division and six-fight winning streak at an end.
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‘Jacare’ Smashes Belfort, Eyes Title Shot
Former Strikeforce champion Ronaldo Souza likely cemented his place as the No. 1 contender at 185 pounds in the co-main event, as he stopped Vitor Belfort with first-round punches from the mount. Belfort (25-12, 15-7 UFC) wilted 4:38 into round one.
Souza (23-4, 6-1 UFC) was precise and methodical with his approach. He cut off Belfort’s only path to victory, closing the distance, executing takedowns and opening a gash across the bridge of his nose with a string of sharp elbows. “The Phenom” ultimately rose to his feet but soon after resorted to pulling guard against the grappling savant. It was a decision he would live to regret. Souza advanced to full mount and rained down punches to force the stoppage.
The 36-year-old Souza has won nine of his past 10 bouts and figures to be first in line to face the winner of the forthcoming rematch between middleweight champion Luke Rockhold and former titleholder Chris Weidman.
‘Cyborg’ Brutalizes Smith in Debut
Reigning Invicta Fighting Championships titleholder Cristiane Justino cut down Leslie Smith with first-round punches in their catchweight feature at 140 pounds. Smith (8-7-1, 2-3 UFC) succumbed to blows 1:21 into round one, as referee Eduardo Herdy swooped in to save her. She was not happy with the stoppage.
Justino (16-1, 1-0 UFC) stalked her prey in a matchup where the outcome always seemed inevitable. The 30-year-old Chute Boxe star chewed up Smith with a four-punch combination that put the Cesar Gracie protégé on her back. Justino showed no hesitation, as she pounced with vicious ground-and-pound. Smith turned away from the fire, giving Herdy the opening he was looking for.
“Cyborg” has finished her last six opponents, five of them inside one round.
‘Shogun’ Outlasts ‘Ultimate Fighter’ Winner Anderson
Former UFC champion Mauricio Rua held Father Time at bay yet again, as he eked out a split verdict over “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 19 winner Corey Anderson in a light heavyweight showcase. Scores were 29-28 for Anderson, 29-28 and 29-28 for Rua.
Anderson (8-2, 5-2 UFC) controlled extended periods with his clinch game and takedowns. However, Rua floored him with a left hook to the temple and pounced with hammerfists for a near finish at the end of round one. Only the bell saved Anderson, who wandered back to his corner in a dazed state. He regained his faculties during the break and executed a pair of takedowns in the second round, but he was again victimized by a late knockdown. Anderson employed a conservative approach over the final five minutes, not knowing he needed a stoppage. He delivered another takedown and pinned Rua (24-10, 8-8 UFC) to the fence in the clinch. It was not enough.
The loss snapped Anderson’s three-fight winning streak.
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Underdog Barberena Upsets Alves
An unshakable chin and superior gas tank spurred MMA Lab export Bryan Barberena to a unanimous decision over the previously unbeaten Warlley Alves in featured battle at 170 pounds. All three cageside judges scored it the same: 29-28 for Barberena (12-3, 3-1 UFC), who won for the ninth time in 10 appearances.
Alves (10-1, 4-1 UFC) snatched a guillotine inside the first minute but could not secure the finish. On the feet, the X-Gym rep targeted the body and head with equal ferocity. Barberena walked through it all and waited for fatigue to take hold of the Brazilian. He punched well in combination in the second round, slowly changing the complexion of the fight. Alves tried and failed to keep the Arizonan at bay over the final five minutes, as Barberena marched forward and cut loose with two- and three-punch combinations until the horn sounded.