Despite two impressive showings thus far in the UFC, Donald Cerrone was still looking for respect.
Many felt that Oliveira's youth, speed, power and aggressiveness would help him prevail against "Cowboy" but the Greg Jackson-trained fighter had other plans.
So how did Cerrone pull it off, and more importantly, what's next?
From the onset of the fight, Cerrone was the bigger man. He was also more aggressive. He might have found the blueprint to victory when he landed a brutal knee to the body about a minute in, but his momentum was halted with a low blow.
Once both men reset, "Cowboy" listened to his coach yelling cageside and began throwing straighter punches, landing a big right hand down the pipe.
With Oliveira now concerned about those straight punches and with a high guard, Cerrone jabbed high with a swift 1-2 before changing levels and throwing an absolutely brutal left hook to the body, which bent his opponent in two. As Oliveira began to drop to the ground, the brazen bullrider threw a huge high-risk knee to the face that clipped him on the way down.
It was all over from there as the WEC veteran simply stood over "Da Bronx" and laid into him with ground and pound and the fight was stopped the second Oliveira turned away from the punishment.
This was simply a case of "too much, too fast" for Charles Oliveira. The Brazilian is just 21 years old and this was the second top 15 opponent he'd faced in his brief career. It's time to slow him down a bit and treat him like the prospect he is before he gets completely broken mentally. He's now 0-2 in his last three fights with one "no contest" due to an illegal knee against Nik Lentz. A fight with Shane Roller makes sense, or perhaps a veteran coming off a loss like Yves Edwards. Some have speculated that he should drop to featherweight but that would likely only be a temporary solution as he's still young and growing into his body and will be back to lightweight eventually anyways.
For Donald Cerrone, he's now one of the fastest men ever to go 3-0 in the UFC in the modern era. He took this fight on short notice and still dominated, scoring the first knockout of his professional MMA career. It appears that everything is finally starting to come together for "Cowboy," and now it's time to see him tested against a strong wrestler. Perhaps Sean Sherk is finally healthy and ready for an opponent, or tough Brazilian grappler Gleison Tibau. If Cerrone isn't willing to wait for the Dennis Siver vs. Sam Stout winner, he could also do an "in-between" match against fellow UFC on Versus 5 victor Cole Miller, a man he's got some serious bad blood with.
He's got a lot of options right now.
So what do you think Maniacs?
Is Cerrone for real? How far can he take this current run in the UFC's lightweight division? And what do you do with the 21 year old Charles Oliveira?