Last night (Weds., July 16, 2014) Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweights Donald Cerrone and Jim Miller went to war in the main event of UFC Fight Night 45 from Revel Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
The No. 6-ranked Cerrone came in hot off a first round submission victory over Edson Barboza at UFC on FOX 11,his third straight bonus-winning victory. After a lackluster 2013 that ended with "Cowboy" broke and needing to fight as much as possible, he rebounded strong to rise back up the 155-pound ranks.
No. 7-ranked Miller also brought a decent amount of momentum into Atlantic City after finishing Yancy Medeiros at UFC 172 and Fabricio Camoes at UFC 168. However, when UFC Fight Night 45's main event was in the books, Cerrone kept his rush rolling by handing Miller another disheartening loss.
The fight began with "Cowboy" throwing some lead knees up the middle. The crowd chanted Miler's name as he landed a big left hook and a body shot. The fighters traded shots as Miller stayed aggressive as planned. Cerrone landed a knee to the body and Miller went to the clinch along the cage. Cerrone threw a sharp leg kick, but Miller caught it to throw down "Cowboy."
Cerrone landed some sharp punches as he stalked Miller, who countered with a solid combo. Cerrone responded with another knee and went for a head kick that was blocked. He landed a straight right and Miller clinched to score some knees. Cerrone reversed a takedown and the action returned to the feet. Miller snapped a counter right and it was Cerrone's turn to clinch. Miller got out to land a hard right hand that buckled Cerrone's knees slightly, and the fighters went to war to end an exciting first round.
Miller came out with a straight left to start the second. Cerrone was patient, throwing a few kicks and knees. Miller pushed forward with a thudding leg kick, but Cerrone dropped him with a hard kick to the groin. It appeared to be above the belt upon review, and Miller was hurt when the fight started back up.
Cerrone was working more and more front kicks to the body, mixing in a few leg kicks. He hurt Miller with another body kick, but the New Jersey native wouldn't go down, throwing a huge shot that missed. Cerrone was aggressive and Miller was suddenly neutralized. He snapped a left hand and a leg kick, but Cerrone responded with a huge high kick that put out Miller's lights.
The referee rushed in to save Miller from any unnecessary damage, and "Cowboy's" latest emphatic finish was sealed. The victory earned him the record for most finishes in WEC/UFC history with 12.
He's won four straight since late 2013 and could be in line for a title shot. Problem is, the belt won't be defended until January at the soonest, and Cerrone likes to stay active.
Because of that, a bout with the winner of UFC on FOX 12's Josh Thomson vs. Bobby Green fight would make sense for him, but the best bout for him is with rising No. 4-ranked Khabib Nurmagomedov. Cerrone will take on whoever signs on the dotted line.
The loss is devastating for Miller. He could have been stopped earlier than he was, and he couldn't deal with Cerrone's vaunted kicking game. Miller's grappling wasn't on point as much as it should have been, and he foolishly sought to prove that he could strike with Cerrone.
It didn't work out for him, and now it's back to the drawing board. A fight with the winner of the upcoming Jorge Masvidal vs. Daron Cruickshank or Joe Lauzon vs. Michael Chiesa bouts makes sense for Miller's return, but time may be running out on his chances of actually challenging for the title.
Donald Cerrone picked up his unprecedented fourth straight bonus with a thunderous finish of Jim Miller at UFC Fight Night 45. Will "Cowboy" finally rise to the top of the lightweight landscape?