Donald Cerrone’s stint as a welterweight began as well as anyone could have imagined. After losing a fight to then-lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos in December 2015, Cerrone moved up to 170 pounds and ran off four straight stoppage wins. He claimed “Performance of the Night” bonus awards in three of those fights. In January 2017, the surging Cerrone faced Jorge Masvidal in the co-main event of UFC on FOX 23.
Masvidal was on a fine run himself. After losing two fights in a row by split decision, Masvidal put together a two-fight winning streak ahead of his matchup against Cerrone. When the stepped into the octagon on that night, Cerrone, who was the No. 5 ranked welterweight at the time was a -165 favorite over the No. 12 ranked Masvidal who came in as a +135 underdog.
The crowd inside Denver’s Pepsi Center clearly favored Cerrone, who was born in that town. That seemed to matter little to the Miami-born Masvidal, who greeted the jeers from the fans with a confident smirk.
The two competitors fought a kickboxing matchup in the first round, with both men scoring with solid strikes. For Cerrone that met throwing his jab and leg kicks with volume. Masvidal concentrated on his boxing, mixing up his attacks.
With less than 10 seconds left in the first stanza, those boxing skills paid off when Masvidal dropped Cerrone to the mat and followed him to the ground to dole out more punishment via ground strikes. UFC commentator Jon Anik initially called the fight for Masvidal, but he had missed hearing the horn to end the round in the uproar that was inspired by Masvidal’s knockdown.
Cerrone was not in good shape when he sat on his stool between rounds. He seemed unfocused and barely acknowledged his cornermen when they attempted to give him instructions in the brief time they had before the start of the second stanza.
Before referee Herb Dean signaled the start of the second round, Masvidal winked and pointed at Cerrone, who stood emotionless in his corner.
Masvidal was aggressive to start the second five minute period. He cut off the cage and pushed Cerrone to the outside. A right hook dropped Cerrone inside the first minute. Cerrone tried to regain his feet, but Masvidal gave him no time nor space and swarmed him against the cage with a flurry of strikes to the body. Cerrone offered no defense to the blows and Dean was forced to stop the fight at the one minute mark of the second round.
Masvidal celebrated his “Performance of the Night” TKO win by blowing kisses at the booing Denver crowd as he sat upon the shoulders of his coach.
Masvidal faces UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman in the main event of Saturday’s UFC 261 fight card. Before that fight takes place, watch Masvidal’s win over Donald Cerrone.