The UFC made it's debut in Cleveland with some local talent anchoring a card, and the anticipated debut of former WWE champion CM Punk. The main event was a UFC heavyweight title bout between Cleveland native and man to break the title-drought curse Stipe Miocic and MMA legend Alistair Overeem.
It was a crazy back-and-forth first round that saw Overeem drop the champion and the Miocic drop the challenger. Ultimately, Miocic was able to launch a steady offensive, and after getting Overeem on his back, the champion was able to ground and pound his way to a victory.
"I said I would keep this belt for a long time and I did it," Miocic said.
Former heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum, who lost the belt to Miocic earlier this year, fought Travis Browne in the co-main event. Werdum opened the fight with a crazy, flying side kick that landed to Browne's face. Werdum had Browne in trouble, but he was able to somehow call for a time out to pop a finger back into place, something that should not have been allowed.
Werdum won the fight via unanimous decision after two more uneventful rounds. The real drama started while waiting for the judges' scores to be read. Browne's coach Edmond Tarverdyan confronted Werdum, who threw a little half-hearted kick and sparked a near brawl inside the cage. Tarverdyan was thrown out of the cage, the police stepped in and officials held Werdum's coach from chasing after Tarverdyan.
And there was the debut of former WWE Champion CM Punk.
CM Punk signed with the UFC almost two years ago and has spent that time training to pursue a career in MMA. His went about exactly as his detractors assumed it would. His opponent, a younger and more talented Mickey Gall, swarming and overwhelming the relatively inexperienced Punk. Within the opening seconds of the fight, Gall got Punk to the mat and worked towards a finish with clinical precision. Gall would flip switch between the ground and pound and submission attempts depending on the movements Punk made. Finally CM Punk gave up his back and Gall was landing strikes from behind to open up his neck, eventually flattening him out and sinking in the rear naked choke just past two minutes into the fight.
“Yeah you know in life you go big or you go home," CM Punk said. "I just like to take challenges. It was a hell of a climb, I didn't get to the summit tonight but it doesn't mean I'm going to give up it doesn't mean I'm going anywhere, it doesn't mean I'm going to stop. I appreciate all the support from everybody."
CM Punk also said this wouldn't be his last fight in the UFC.
“er. I will be back, believe it or not. This was the most fun I've had in my life, second best night of my life after marrying my wife. I know there's a lot of doubters but listen, life's about falling down and getting back up. Doesn't matter how many time you get knocked down, get back up.
“So if there's any kid out there that's told by a parent, or coach or teacher or somebody they look up to or somebody that's supposed to push them and they're told no, believe in yourself.”
Stars Of The Night
1. Mickey Gall - He got the impressive win over CM Punk, as expected. But he took the microphone and called for a fight against Sage Northcutt. The kid is smart and making wise business decisions when it comes to angling for fights.
2. Jessica Andrade - She got a huge win over Joanne Calderwood in the opening bout of the main card in the first-round. She moves into title contention and while she might not get the next shot at Joanna Jędrzejczyk, she could be next in line after that.
3. Yancy Medeiros - Huge win in his welterweight debut against Sean Spencer, coming off a bad loss.
1. Never leave it in the judges' hands
Jessica Eye and Bethe Correia fought a close and contested fight, with no clear decisive winner. That being said, most thought that Jessica Eye had won in front of her hometown crowd, but the judges awarded a split decision to her opponent, Bethe Correia.
"I don't think I lost that fight at all," Eye said after the fight. "I just don't know how and to think it would happen here like this; just blows my mind. I'm not sure what is coming now. It's just how it goes."
Earlier in the event, Brad Tavares seemed to have single-handedly won a fight against Caio Magalhaes. One judge scored the fight in favor of Magalhaes, putting a bit of fear in Tavares as the final score was read off.
2. Stipe Miocic could be champ for a while
The heavyweight division has never been home to a long-reigning champion, like Ronda Rousey in the bantamweight, Georges St-Pierre at welterweight, and Anderson Silva at middleweight. Miocic could be the guy to string to get some successful defense. He has an impressive resume, which includes wins over legends like Werdum, Andrei Arlovski and of course, Overeem.
3. Take the stairs.
The big ongoing story of the week was the stairs. On Friday morning during weigh-ins, a UFC employee got stuck in the elevator for 45 minutes. That delay played a part in Overeem being minutes late to the weigh-in window and being fined.
Then, after the ceremonial weigh-ins on Friday afternoon, a huge portion of the UFC 203 card got stuck in an elevator that dropped to the second floor. That incident included: Yancey Medeiros, Urijah Faber, CB Dolloway, Brad Tavares and Fabricio Werdum. The drop, which was from the second floor to the basement, injured Dolloway and forced him off the card. The rest of the fighters fought and went 3-1 on Saturday night, the lone loss coming from Urijah Faber.
Yancy Medeiros with a devastating kick.
Drew Dober with the first-round TKO.
Nik Lentz with a second-round TKO of Michael McBride.
A huge right hand from Brad Tavares.
240-pound Fabricio Werdum opened with a flying side kick to the face.
Alistair Overeem nearly got the win with one punch.
UFC 203 PPV Main Event:
Stipe Miocic def. Alistair Overeem via knockout (punches) - Round 1, 4:27
UFC 203 PPV Main Card (10 p.m. ET):
Fabricio Werdum def. Travis Browne via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 30-27)
Mickey Gall def. CM Punk via submission (rear-naked choke) - Round 1, 2:14
Jimmie Rivera def. Urijah Faber via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Jessica Andrade def. Joanne Calderwood via submission (guillotine choke) - Round 1, 4:38
UFC 203 FOX Sports 1 "Prelims" (8 p.m. ET):
Bethe Correia def. Jessica Eye via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Brad Tavares def. Caio Magalhaes via split decision (28-29, 30-27, 29-28)
Nik Lentz def. Michael McBride via TKO (punches) - Round 2, 4:17
Drew Dober def. Jason Gonzalez via TKO (punches) - Round 1, 1:45
UFC 203 Fight Pass "Prelims" (6 p.m. ET):
Yancy Medeiros def. Sean Spencer via submission (rear-naked choke) - Round 2, 0:39
The next UFC card is a Fight Night in Hidalgo, Texas. The main event fight on that card is a lightweight showdown between Dustin Poirier and Michael Johnson. The next UFC pay-per-view isn't until early October, when middleweight champion Michael Bisping fights Dan Henderson in Manchester. Henderson has come out and said that win or lose, this will be his last professional fight.