Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweights Donald Cerrone and Eddie Alvarez attempted to make a statement last night (Sat., Sept. 27, 2014) at UFC 178 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Hardcore mixed martial arts (MMA) fans know who Eddie Alvarez is, but last night was his opportunity to expose himself to a larger fan base. Plus, Alvarez was quite close to a title shot already, and a dominant performance over a fighter like "Cowboy" would have done wonders to push his name even further.
Cerrone was still looking for consistency -- something other than being consistently exciting, that is. The Greg Jackson MMA-trained fighter had previously faltered when stepping up against truly elite competition, and this was another chance for him to buck that trend.
By the end of the fight, Cerrone had proven himself as the better man.
Alvarez feinted with his in and out movement as Cerrone looked for kicks. Alvarez attempted his darting right hand a couple of times, but his punches missed. Alvarez landed a few body jabs, and Cerrone answered with kicks.
Cerrone landed his first nice leg kick of the fight about a minute in. In the clinch, Alvarez did some serious damage with a vicious flurry of right hands. Cerrone simply absorbed many of them without moving.
"Cowboy" then stopped Alvarez's double leg, and both men landed punches in an exchange near the fence. Alvarez next returned to his in and out movement. Cerrone seemed to have recovered, but he was no longer moving nearly as well.
Once more, Alvarez shot for a double and failed to secure it. Back in the clinch, Alvarez landed a nice combo. Cerrone attacked with a head kick and punches but nothing connected very cleanly. Cerrone landed a nice body kick near the end of the round.
The Philly fighter took the first.
Alvarez opened the second round with some nice head movement, before going back to the body jab. Cerrone scored with a nice body kick as Alvarez circled away. Cerrone started to get his kickboxing going, landing with a knee and kick.
Alvarez darted in with his right hand cleanly. From within the Thai plum, Alvarez landed a pair of body punches. Cerrone returned another step knee. Cerrone landed a pair of low kicks then missed high. "Cowboy" really began to get his kickboxing going, so Alvarez looked for a takedown.
It failed, and Cerrone momentarily controlled Alvarez from the clinch. With a minute left, Cerrone had clearly taken control of the stand up. Still, both men were landing hard. Alvarez finished the round with a nice spinning back fist.
Alvarez started the third round with another failed takedown, which allowed Cerrone to land some knees in the clinch. Cerrone had stolen the role of aggressor, causing Alvarez to absorb many more kicks.
Alvarez landed a flurry and went back to stalking Cerrone. Both fighters had slowed down a little bit. Alvarez then got hurt by a knee in the clinch and follow up punches, but he recovered well. Cerrone landed another hard combo, which included a head kick.
Cerrone continued to pursue aggressively while Alvarez looked to counter. With two minutes left, Alvarez desperately needed to change the momentum of the third round. Unfortunately for Alvarez, Cerrone took the initiative and dropped Alvarez with a series of low kicks.
"Cowboy" took half guard, which was likely a smart decision, as both men were tired. From the top, Cerrone was active with ground strikes but did not land anything serious. The bell rang with Cerrone controlling half guard.
This was perhaps the best performance of Cerrone's career. His knees to the body severely fatigued Alvarez, and his leg kicks slowed down the former Bellator kingpin. Once Cerrone got his timing down, he looked incredibly fluid with his kickboxing.
There's no doubt that Cerrone is close to the title. The problem is, there's a bunch of lightweights close to strap. Khabib Nurmagomedov would be an excellent challenge for the lengthy kickboxer.
Though he performed fairly well, there's little doubt just how bad this loss hurts for Alvarez. He has waited so long to make his UFC debut, only to be battered for the final round.
Still, Alvarez did look very good in the first frame, and the UFC definitely has a home for fighters that are both exciting and top contenders. For Alvarez's rebound fight, a scrap with fellow "Cowboy" victim Jim Miller would be absurdly entertaining.
At UFC 178, Cerrone defeated Alvarez in a highly entertaining decision win. Can the "Cowboy" finally earn a title shot inside the Octagon?
For complete UFC 178: "Johnson vs Cariaso" results, including blow-by-blow coverage of the entire pay-per-view event, click here.