A whirlwind week ended in a good result for Alex Morono, as the 30-year-old welterweight defeated Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone on short notice.
Morono (19-7) finished Cerrone via TKO at 4:40 of the opening round. The welterweight bout co-headlined the UFC Fight Night on Saturday, inside the Apex facility in Las Vegas. Cerrone (36-16) was originally scheduled to face Diego Sanchez, but the UFC pulled Sanchez from the bout due to medical concerns and released him from its roster, and Morono was more than ready to take his place.
Cerrone, 38, is tied with Jim Miller for the UFC's all-time record in appearances with 37. The New Mexico-based legend said before the fight that he expected Morono to come out aggressively -- and that proved to be the case. Morono bullied Cerrone with right hands and combinations, which eventually forced him to cover up until the end of the fight.
A former lightweight title challenger, Cerrone is now winless in his last six appearances. He is 0-5 during that stretch, with one no contest. He's been knocked out in four of those five defeats. One of the most popular fighters on the UFC roster, Cerrone's last win came against Al Iaquinta in May 2019.
Morono, of Houston, bounces back from a 1-2 campaign in 2020. His last fight was also on short notice, a decision loss to Anthony Pettis in December.
-- Brett Okamoto
Women's flyweight: Marina Rodriguez (14-1-2, 4-1-2 UFC) vs. Michelle Waterson (18-9, 6-5 UFC) by unanimous decision
Marina Rodriguez and Michelle Waterson trade blows in their main event bout at UFC Fight Night.
Marina Rodriguez did not arrive in Las Vegas until Thursday, two days later than every other fighter on the card. The Brazil native had struggles getting a visa into the United States due to COVID-19 and spent 20 hours in travel over Wednesday and Thursday morning.
None of that ended up mattering Saturday.
-- Marc Raimondi
Welterweight: Neil Magny (25-9, 18-7 UFC) defeats Geoff Neal (13-4, 5-2 UFC) by unanimous decision
Early in the first round, Neal landed a punch that left a swollen bruise underneath Magny's left eye. Then, with 20 seconds to go in the final round, Neal connected with a hard left hand that snapped back Magny's head.
In between those big shots, it was all Magny, all the time. For long stretches, not a second went by without him throwing a punch or kick. He landed a lot of them, though nothing as hard as Neal's best punches. But the volume by Magny combined with Neal's lack of volume won the fight.
Magny threw 214 strikes and landed 89. Neal landed 37 of 76.
@NeilMagny you're fighting me next. Don't run like chicken We will see who slaps who in the cage @danawhite— Khamzat Chimaev (@KChimaev) May 9, 2021
One judge gave Magny all three rounds, and the other scored it 29-28.
The 33-year-old Magny fights out of Denver, and training at altitude paid off on this night, as he appeared to be as fresh in the final minute as he was in the first. Neal, meanwhile, had to pause to reset on several occasions, and he seldom was able to sustain offense because he was always playing defense.
Magny has won four of his last five fights, while Neal, who is 30 and fights out of Dallas, has lost two in a row after a seven-fight winning streak.
-- Jeff Wagenheim
Heavyweight: Marcos Rogerio de Lima (19-1-1, 7-5 UFC) defeats Maurice Greene (9-7, 4-4 UFC) by unanimous decision
There was no secret to de Lima's game plan here. Once he saw in the first round that he could easily muscle Greene to the ground, that is what he did. In every single round. And Greene could not get up at any point.
De Lima picked up a dominant, yet dull unanimous decision win (30-26, 30-26, 30-27), using his wrestling to grind out Greene and adding some ground-and-pound here and there. De Lima by decision was +500, per Caesars by William Hill.
The most interesting part of the fight came at the end of the second round when de Lima threw a punch from top position after the bell. Greene also used his fingers in a position near de Lima's eyes. Referee Herb Dean scolded both men before the start of the third, but no point was taken.
De Lima, 35, has alternated wins and losses over his past 11 UFC fights dating to 2014. The Brazil native is 3-2 since moving back up to heavyweight in 2018. Greene, a 34-year-old fighting out of New Mexico, has dropped two in a row and four of five.
Lightweight: Gregor Gillespie (14-1, 7-1 UFC) defeats Diego Ferreira (17-4, 8-4 UFC) by second-round TKO
Gillespie, of Long Island, New York, picked up his first win since January 2019, but Ferreira certainly made him work for it.
Gillespie finished the fight via TKO at 4:51 of the second round, as he landed a long series of unanswered punches to the side of Ferreira's head from the back. The finish came after Gillespie controlled Ferreira for much of the round, and flattened him out near the fence.
After his #UFCVegas26 win, @gregor_the_gift listed the accolades 📝 pic.twitter.com/QJwwYxxXrW— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) May 9, 2021
Ferreria, who was born in Brazil and now trains out of Dallas, looked good in the opening round, as he was able to stifle many of Gillespie's takedown attempts and land good shots on the feet. Ferreira actually ended the round out-grappling Gillespie, working out of side mount.
A former four-time All American NCAA wrestler, Gillespie seized control of the bout in the second frame. He refused to give up on an early single-leg attempt, and once he had Ferreira down, he methodically roughed him up, improved position and earned the finish.
Gillespie improves to 7-1 in the UFC, and bounces back from a knockout loss to Kevin Lee in his most recent fight in November 2019. Ferreira, who had won six in a row coming into 2021, drops to 0-2 this year. He suffered a split-decision loss to Beneil Dariush in February.
Middleweight: Phil Hawes (11-2, 3-0 UFC) defeats Kyle Daukaus (10-2, 1-1 UFC) by unanimous decision
Hawes remained unbeaten in the UFC by spending Round 2 investing his energy on attacking the body, then reaping the rewards of that investment by smothering and pummeling a sapped Daukaus on the canvas for the entirety of Round 3 to sew up the lopsided decision.
Both men landed solid punches in the first round, with each at times looking like he could not miss with anything he threw. Both looked strong going into the middle round, but Daukaus slowed down as Hawes relentlessly went to his body with punches and kicks.
Whiffed on the kick, but @KyleDaukaus landed the backfist 🤯 #UFCVegas26 pic.twitter.com/dylH3kvnRQ— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) May 9, 2021
Hawes then got a takedown in the first minute of the final round, and there was no way Daukaus was getting up. In fact, he was implored several times by referee Mark Smith to "fight back," and he gave what he could and survived to the final horn.
Two judges scored the bout 30-26 and the other had it 29-27.
Hawes, who is 32 and fights out of North Bergen, New Jersey, has won seven in a row, the last three in the UFC. Daukaus, a 28-year-old from Philadelphia, has lost two of his last three after winning the first nine fights of his career.
Men's featherweight: Michael Trizano (10-1, 3-1 UFC) defeats Ludovit Klein (17-3, 1-1 UFC) by unanimous decision
Trizano had a huge third round. He dropped Klein and nearly choked him out with a guillotine.
There was no doubt Trizano won the final round -- and the judges felt he won the whole thing, too, via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27). Klein definitely had strong moments in the first and second rounds, but the scorecards clearly favored Trizano's work.
30-27 is a tough break #UFCVegas26— Aljamain Sterling (@funkmasterMMA) May 8, 2021
Klein landed some solid one-two combinations and right hands in the first round, plus a late takedown. Trizano kept the pressure on, though, giving chase throughout the fight. Trizano landed a nice counter right and a left hook in the first round. In the second, Klein seemed to be mostly in control even though Trizano kept him on the back foot. Klein landed the more solid blows in the second.
The third round, though, was almost all Trizano, who dropped Klein with a right hand early and almost put him to sleep late with the guillotine choke.
Trizano, 29, has won three of four in the UFC. The New Jersey resident was the Ultimate Fighter 27 lightweight winner in 2018. Klein, a 26-year-old Slovakia native, had an eight-fight winning streak snapped.
Middleweight: Jun Yong Park (13-4, 3-1 UFC) defeats Tafon Nchukwi (5-1, 1-1 UFC) by majority decision
An awkward middleweight fight between Park and Nchukwi produced a wide range of scores, as judges clearly didn't know what to do with the start-and-stop action.
In the end, Park, of Seoul, South Korea, earned a majority decision nod, via scores of 30-25, 29-26 and 28-28.
Neither middleweight looked particularly effective, and the bout was interrupted by fouls multiple times. Nchukwi landed unintentional groin strikes in the first and second rounds, the second of which cost him a one-point deduction. Nchukwi targeted Park's legs and body with kicks, but struggled to find any rhythm on the feet.
Park showed tonight why you don't want him to gain the top position! Ground and pound is heavy!#UFCVegas26— Dominick Cruz (@DominickCruz) May 8, 2021
Park, who improved to 3-1 in the UFC, kept Nchukwi off his game with a quick jab and boxing combinations. He nearly locked in a guillotine choke at the end of the second round, after Nchukwi tried to slam him to the canvas.
Nchukwi, of Cameroon, suffered his first loss as a pro.
Welterweight: Carlston Harris (16-4, 1-0 UFC) defeats Christian Aguilera (14-8, 1-2 UFC) by first-round submission
Carlston Harris wins his UFC debut with a slick move to submit Christian Aguilera with an anaconda choke.
What a self-assured UFC debut by Harris.
The 33-year-old native of Guyana, who fights out of Brazil, came right out and immediately put his opponent in a clinch, a strong position for a takedown. But the takedown try was unsuccessful, and moments later Harris ran into an Aguilera uppercut, which stopped him in his tracks but did not deter him. Harris then landed an attention-getting punch of his own, drawing a takedown attempt by Aguilera. And Harris calmly defended the shot and turned it into an anaconda choke.
At #UFCVegas26, @CarlstonMMA became the 19th fighter in @UFC history to earn an anaconda choke submission.— UFC News (@UFCNews) May 8, 2021
Overall, there have been 22 anaconda choke submissions in UFC competition.
When Aguilera went unconscious, referee Marc Goddard jumped in to end the bout at 2:52 of Round 1, giving Harris his fourth straight win and eighth in his last nine bouts.
Aguilera, a 29-year-old fighting out of Brea, California, lost his second straight after running off a three-fight winning streak.