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UFC Fight Night 123 results from last night: Marlon Moraes vs Aljamain Sterling fight recap

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Fresno-Moraes vs Sterling Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Bantamweight contenders Marlon Moraes and Aljamain Sterling squared off last night (Dec. 9, 2017) at UFC Fight Night 123 inside the Save Mart Center in Fresno, California.

Moraes was perhaps the most dominant champion in the World Series of Fighting (WSOF), defending his title five times and stopping most of his opponents. Two fights into his UFC career, Moraes was having a more difficult time demolishing fighters, but he did prove his position in the top 10. A couple years back, Sterling was the hottest prospect at 135 lbs. A couple losses slowed his rise, but a renewed focus on his kickboxing led to dramatic improvements and a pair of wins. Both men were on the verge of a title shot, making this perhaps the most important bout on the card.

It didn’t last long.

Moraes came out aggressive, walking through his opponent's kicks and firing. It didn't take long for a big shot to connect, as a left hook from the former WSOF champ sent his opponent crashing to the mat. Sterling seemed to recover fairly quickly, throwing up a dangerous triangle right as Moraes pursued the finish.

That submission backed the Brazilian off, which proved disastrous for "Funk Master." Right after the referee stood them up, Sterling stepped forward, directly into a step left kick from his opponent. The knee connected, but the result was the same: a truly brutal knockout that brought out the stretcher.

This is the performance fans of Moraes have been waiting for. He was mean from the get-go, showing zero respect for Sterling's improved striking or vaunted takedowns. The knocked was a thing of beauty, as Moraes landed his signature technique directly into his opponent's chin.

On the whole, there's not too much to analyze here. Moraes was firing hard shots and landed early. Sterling reverted to his wrestling roots right as Moraes kicked, resulting in perhaps the most violent knockout I've ever seen live. Sterling was asleep for a disconcerting amount of time, not moving until after the Brazilian's in-cage interview.

Moving forward, Moraes has proven his top five status. Any other member of the top five would be a fantastic match up, but the only currently opening fighters are Dominick Cruz and Cody Garbrandt. Whenever the former champions return to the cage, a battle with Moraes would be excellent.

As for Sterling, things went wrong almost immediately. Moraes walked him down, and the wrestler was never able to earn his respect. Then, a poorly timed shot ended his night.

It's a rough night for Sterling, who was hoping to break into title contention. Instead, he should be facing a lengthy layoff to recover from this knockout and will return against a step back in competition.

Last night, Marlon Moraes landed one of the most savage knockouts of the year. Is the Brazilian a future UFC champ?

For complete UFC Fight Night 123 “Swanson vs. Ortega” results and live play-by-play, click HERE!

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