Donald Cerrone earned a hard fought, come-from-behind victory in his promotional debut, as he submitted Paul Kelly in the second round of their preliminary lightweight scrap at UFC 126 “Silva vs. Belfort” on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
As Cerrone (Pictured, File photo) tried to touch gloves to start the bout, Kelly landed an overhand right before “Cowboy” took the fight to the floor. Though Cerrone briefly secured the mount, the Brit escaped and proceeded to light up the Greg Jackson protégé on the feet. In the waning minutes, however, Cerrone took the fight to the floor once again, this time slicing Kelly over the right eye with an elbow.
Cerrone stormed back in the second stanza, using his length to score with leg kicks before putting Kelly on his back and passing to mount for the second time. There would be no escape for the Brit this time, as the former WEC title challenger took his back and cinched a fight-ending rear-naked choke at 3:48 of round two.
“I’m glad to be here. I’m glad to show the WEC guys deserve to be here,” said Cerrone. “That’s Greg Jackson jiu-jitsu. My training partners are the best in the world.”
Mendes Outpoints Omigawa, Stays Unbeaten
Chad Mendes outpointed the world-ranked Michihiro Omigawa in a featherweight tilt, earning a unanimous decision and spoiling the Japanese standout’s return to the UFC. All three judges scored it 30-27.
Mendes looked sharp early, targeting Omigawa’s lead leg with kicks while coming over the top with a heavy right hand. Though Omigawa’s takedown defense was impressive through the first half of the round, the Team Alpha Male ace finally put the judoka on his back with 90 seconds to go in the round. Omigawa dictated the pace from the guard, however, threatening to submit Mendes with a straight arm lock.
Mendes crumpled his foe with a beautiful right hand just seconds into round two, but he could not finish the durable Yoshida Dojo representative. After surviving the onslaught, Omigawa recovered to make the remainder of the round competitive, though he suffered a nasty laceration over his left eye late in the round.
The third frame also belonged to Mendes, who escaped a guillotine attempt in the opening seconds of the round to once again gain top position. Though Omigawa was busy from the guard, “Money” continued to rain down ground-and-pound. After Omigawa escaped to his feet, the Japanese fighter pressed the action, only to be taken down and bloodied up as the bout came to a close.
Speedy Johnson Derails ‘Kid’
Demetrious Johnson derailed the debut of Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto, using superior speed to take home a clear-cut unanimous decision win. Scores were 29-28, 30-27 and 30-27, all for Johnson.
Though both men looked sharp standing, it was Johnson who won the wrestling battle in round one. Using excellent technique and blinding quickness, “Mighty Mouse” scored three separate takedowns in the opening frame. The second round was strikingly similar, as Johnson continually frustrated “Kid” with his speed and put him on his back several more times. Round three also belonged to Johnson, as the lightning-fast American wobbled Yamamoto with a left and again took the fight to the floor as time expired.
“Me and him both have good footwork. That’s why I [kept my distance]. If I overextend, I’m going to get knocked out, just like everyone else, by that right hook,” said Johnson. “He was a very tough opponent. He hits really hard, and he’s a really tough guy.”
Taylor Kick Finishes ‘Godzilla’
Paul Taylor earned his second consecutive Octagon victory in his sophomore lightweight effort, besting “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 5 alum Gabe Ruediger by technical knockout 1:42 into round two.
In the first frame, Taylor got the better of the exchanges, using his wrestling in reverse to keep the fight standing. Though Ruediger attempted multiple takedowns, the Brit’s defense held strong and Taylor continually landed shots to the head of the former WEC champion. Round two brought more of the same, with Taylor finding his range in the stand-up and making his foe pay. With his back against the fence, Taylor put together a fight-ending combination, hurting the American with a one-two before sealing the deal with a head kick.
Kingsbury Steamrolls Romero in 21 Seconds
A light heavyweight affair between Kyle Kingsbury and Ricardo Romero was almost over before it started, as Kingsbury earned the technical knockout just 21 seconds into the fight.
After pressing the former Ring of Combat champion against the fence, Kingsbury landed knees from the clinch to soften up his foe. As Romero attempted to escape the position, “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 8 veteran dropped him with a left hand and went for the kill, as referee Steve Mazzagatti saved a turtled Romero from further punishment.
Kingsbury, who trains out of the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, Calif., has rattled off three consecutive victories.
Surging Pierce Stops Robertson
In the opener, powerful wrestler Mike Pierce stopped the previously unbeaten Kenny Robertson with punches 29 seconds into the second round.
The pace was deliberate in round one, as Pierce controlled the action with his wrestling. After pushing Robertson against the cage, the WEC veteran locked up a front headlock to neutralize any offense Robertson tried to muster. Though Robertson eventually escaped the position, Pierce scored a takedown as the round came to a close.
Round two was all Pierce, as the Oregon native landed a solid left hook to Robertson’s jaw, buckling his knees and signaling the beginning of the end for the Bellator Fighting Championships alum. As Robertson fell to the floor, Pierce pounced on his foe, forcing referee Herb Dean to step in.
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