Donald Cerrone wanted to prove a point last night (June 11, 2011).
He made a statement on Vagner Rocha's legs with some vicious kicks that repeatedly staggered his opponent and made the Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace look completely outclassed in the opening bout of the UFC 131 main card.
Rocha was stepping in on late notice for an injured Mac Danzig but "Cowboy" hit him so hard in the thigh with his kicks that it appeared there would be a permanent brand of the Jackson's Submission fighter's shinbone.
We'll delve into how Cerrone was able to foil Rocha's impressive submission acumen after the jump.
The former bull rider immediately went to work with his leg kicks within the first 10 seconds of the fight. He showed no respect for Rocha's striking whatsoever.
It appeared he may be in trouble when Rocha caught a Cerrone knee and took him down but "Cowboy" had twice as many submission victories on his record as Rocha had career MMA victories so he wasn't concerned. Cerrone immediately attacked from his back with an omaplata and quickly got back to his feet by pushing off from the butterfly guard.
After Rocha was unsuccessful in his next takedown attempt, he settled for trying to counter Cerrone's leg kicks with right hooks and that was a really bad idea. Cerrone continued to dig in with his kicks and they started to damage Rocha badly, even dropping him as the rounds wore on.
By the last round, Rocha became desperate enough to dive forward into guard-pulling attempts. "Cowboy" continued to wail on him but he didn't go for the kill like many believe he was capable of and allowed the fight to go to a decision despite Vagner barely being able to stand.
In the end, it was Rocha's complete inability to check leg kicks or get and keep the fight on the ground that cost him. As the fight wore on, he looked worse and worse in the striking department as damage from the leg kicks accumulated.
The UFC usually rewards those that step in on late notice but this may be one of those cases where they let a fighter go. Rocha simply did not look like he belonged inside the Octagon last night.
If he's given another fight in the UFC, it'll be with someone who's in the bottom rung of the division, perhaps some members of the most recent lightweight season of The Ultimate Fighter like Cody McKenzie or Kyle Watson. A bout with recent late injury replacement who also received a similar beatdown in Danny Downes would be intriguing.
For Donald Cerrone, this fight proved nothing. Rocha was far too low in the ranks for Donald to take a step up the lightweight ladder. Perhaps they'll try to put together the fight with Mac Danzig again as that bout is still interesting.
Cerrone called out UFC 131 "Knockout of the Night" winner Sam Stout after his win and with both men's tendency to win "Fight of the Night" bonuses, that bout is absolutely bristling with possibilities.
What do you think Maniacs? Does Rocha deserve another shot? Who do you want to see Cerrone face next?