Rafael dos Anjos stops Donald Cerrone in 1st round
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Rafael dos Anjos stopped Donald Cerrone at 1:06 of the first round Saturday night to retain the UFC lightweight title.
Dos Anjos hurt Cerrone with a left kick to the midsection, moved in and unleashed a flurry of shots against the fence. Cerrone managed to escape and get back to the center of the octagon, but the fight went to the ground and dos Anjos finished it there.
Dos Anjos improved to 35-7 in his first title defense and second victory of Cerrone.
“I just proved that I am here to stay,” dos Anjos said. “I’m here with my belt. It’s just the beginning.”
Cerrone dropped to 28-7 after winning eight straight fights.
“I didn’t show up to work,” Cerrone said. “Couldn’t find my gear. He showed up and I didn’t. He did a good job.”
After the fight, dos Anjos delivered a message to featherweight champion Conor McGregor, who has said he plans to also fight in the lightweight division.
“Conor McGregor has said he wants to come to my division,” dos Anjos said. “I don’t think that would be a smart decision for him, but I would be happy to welcome him.
Earlier, Alistair Overeem (40-14) scored a technical knockout win over former UFC champion Junior Dos Santos (17-4) in a heavyweight fight.
The two combined to land just 11 strikes in the first round, with Overeem managing seven to Dos Santos’ four, but the action picked up late in the second. After Dos Santos pressed Overeem against the cage with a combination, the two moved back across the octagon where Overeem dropped Dos Santos with a left hook. Overeem, who picked up his third consecutive win, pounced on his downed opponent and landed four hammer fists before the fight was stopped.
“Junior is a very dangerous opponent,” Overeem said. “He throws bombs. He throws strong, so we had to have game plan and figure out his rhythm then slowly pick him apart.”
In a lightweight fight, Nate Diaz (18-10) picked up a unanimous decision over Michael Johnson (16-10) in a standup battle.
It was Diaz’s first fight in over a year, and only his second win in his last five fights, but he looked sharp over the final two rounds to earn the decision. The two kept it standing the entire fight, and the lightning-quick Johnson got the better of the exchanges in the first, out-striking Diaz 36-24. But Johnson slowed in the second, and Diaz began to land combinations as the two slugged it out in the second and third rounds.
“I planned on him coming out fast and hard, so I figured he’d probably slow down,” Diaz said. “I was just making sure I wasn’t in a hurry and trying to make sure he didn’t get too far ahead. I heard my coach and my corner telling me to open up a bit more, so I was just coasting and trying to be smart instead of reckless.”
Johnson, who suffered his second consecutive loss, said that Diaz’s in-fight taunting took him out of his strategy.
“He sucked me in, and congrats to him,” Johnson said. “As far as unanimous ... I don’t think it should’ve been that. It was a really close fight.”