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CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland kid makes good...again!

Independence, Ohio-based Stipe Miocic successfully defended his UFC heavyweight championship with a knockout win over Alistair Overeem in the main event of UFC 203 from Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland Saturday night.

With Overeem in pursuit, Miocic earned the takedown and put the challenger on his back. Then, Miocic rained down several punches, bouncing Overeem’s head off the canvas twice before he was knocked out. The referee jumped in for the stoppage with just 33 seconds left in the first round.

Overeem attempted to throw a right leg kick when Miocic checked it and sent the challenger to the mat. After the takedown, Overeem pulled guard, but Miocic was not to be denied. Miocic landed a pair of right-handed hammer fists before throwing a left-right combination to Overeem’s face.

Following another left hand, Miocic landed four straight rights to Overeem’s jaw, knocking out the challenger and forcing the referee’s stoppage.

Early in the first round, Miocic was pursuing Overeem when he got caught with a punch to the jaw and fell backwards. Overeem immediately jumped at the opportunity and put Miocic into a guillotine choke, but the champion kept his feet on the mat and circled his way out of the submission.

In all, Miocic landed 34 of his 60 strikes, all of which were significant. Overeem landed only nine of his 17 throws.

Following the win against Overeem, Miocic jumped on top of the cage and led more than 18,000 fight fans in a chant of “O-H-I-O.” Then, after his post-fight interview, he walked out of the cage, threw his arms in the air victoriously and celebrated with the fans.

Miocic is the just the second champion across any division in the UFC to successfully defend their championships in 2016. Of the previous six times a champion has entered The Octagon prior to Miocic’s defense, only bantamweight titlist Dominick Cruz has walked out with the belt.

The other five champions, Holly Holm (women’s bantamweight), Fabricio Werdum (heavyweight), Luke Rockhold (middleweight), Miesha Tate (women’s bantamweight) and Robbie Lawler (welterweight), have all been unsuccessful in defending their titles in 2016.


CLEVELAND -- Fabricio Werdum secured that response win he so desperately wanted.

With memories of his heavyweight championship loss to Stipe Miocic at UFC 198 back in his home country of Brazil still fresh in his mind, Werdum outpointed Travis Browne, the sixth-ranked fighter in the top division, on the way to a unanimous-decision win in the co-main event of UFC 203 in Quicken Loans Arena Saturday night.

Browne has now lost two straight fights against the top two contending heavyweights in Werdum and Cain Velasquez, and three of his last four bouts in the last 16 months.

Despite being 0 for 5 on takedown attempts and getting put on his back once when Browne executed a leg sweep after catching a kick to the body, Werdum dominated the first round from the outset, landing a spinning kick in the opening seconds of the bout.

Werdum landed 70 of his 98 strikes, including 31 of his 55 significant shots, against Browne over the first five minutes of the fight. Conversely, Browne was on target with only four of his 19 strike attempts. Browne suffered an apparent injury to his right hand, and called for an illegal timeout.

The referee forced a break in the action after Browne disengaged.

Late in the first round, Werdum gained ground control and took Browne’s back. However, Browne tucked his chin close to his chest and blocked a rear-naked choke attempt. Werdum could not lock his right forearm under Browne’s chin, and rose to throw punches while shaking his head in the final seconds of the round.

Browne remained on his feet for the entirety of the second round, and despite absorbing 18 strikes from Werdum, he landed 13 of his 37 punch attempts. All 18 of Werdum’s strikes were considered significant.


CLEVELAND -- C.M. Punk’s debut in the UFC was a fast one.

Without landing a significant strike, Punk suffered a submission loss to Mickey Gall via a rear-naked chokehold at the 2:45 mark of the first round in a welterweight fight at UFC 203 inside Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.

“I will be back,” Punk said in his post-fight interview with UFC commentator Joe Rogan. “There’s no shame in getting knocked down. The true failure in life is not trying.”

At the outset, Punk, who was making his not only his UFC but mixed martial arts debut, charged toward the center of The Octagon, Gall shot in and was successful with a takedown. After utilizing a double-leg takedown, Gall pushed Punk against the cage fence and dropped his opponent to the mat.

Punk landed all six of his shots in the clinch, but Gall threw sharp elbows early in the first round that opened up his opponent. Gall continued to pepper Punk with punches and elbows, landing 26 of his 39 attempts in side control or full guard.

Punk attempted to roll out of the blows, but gave up his back, which left him vulnerable for the rear-naked choke.


CLEVELAND -- Jimmie Rivera just keeps rolling in the UFC bantamweight division.

Despite absorbing a low kick and eye poke throughout the fight, Rivera earned a unanimous-decision win over the No. 2 ranked bantamweight in the UFC, Urijah Faber, on the main card of UFC 203 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland Saturday night.

With the win, Rivera improved to 20-1 in his pro career, and is now on a 19-fight winning streak. Faber (33-10) has dropped two straight fights.

Both fighters started out measuring each other and keeping their hands near their chins, but still willing to test the range.

Rivera proved to be the more active -- and accurate -- fighter in the first round. Rivera landed 17 of his 51 attempts, and all of those were deemed significant against Faber. Conversely, Faber, the former World Extreme Cagefighting featherweight champion, connected on just 10 of his 33 throws. Also, Faber rushed in twice for clinches, but was shrugged off by Rivera.

Just 29 seconds into the second round, Faber threw a left leg kick that landed below Rivera’s belt, and the referee called for a break in the action. After the brief respite for Rivera to catch his breath, Faber threw and landed a stiff left-handed punch to his opponent’s chin.

However, Rivera withstood the shot and kept Faber away from pursuing takedowns by throwing several leg kicks. One of those kicks landed to Faber’s lead leg and spun the No. 2 ranked bantamweight nearly 180 degrees before he recovered.

Rivera continued to pepper Faber’s lead leg with kicks for the remainder of the round, but the two fighters were relatively inactive, combining for just 32 strikes landed in the second stanza. Rivera landed 23 of those strikes, most of which were leg kicks.

Both fighters continued to measure each other and throw judicious punches in the third round, but while attempting to shoot in for a takedown with 3:35 showing on the clock, Rivera caught Faber with a left leg kick to the face.

Faber absorbed the kick, and was undeterred by the strike. However, while throwing a punch with his left hand, Faber poked Rivera in the eye, and that led to another delay in the action. Once the fight resumed, Rivera landed a flurry of punches before Faber recovered and attempted to change the pace of the fight.

Rivera outpointed Faber, 19-5, in strikes in the third and final round.


CLEVELAND -- The losing streak is over for Bethe Correia.

Correia earned the split-decision victory over Cleveland’s Jessica “Evil” Eye in the women’s bantamweight feature bout of the preliminary card of UFC 203 at Quicken Loans Arena Saturday night.

Correia broke a two-fight losing skid with the decision over Eye, who has now lost four straight fights, all of which have gone to the judges’ scorecards, and five of her last six bouts.

Tentative in each of her last three bouts, Eye came out and controlled the pace in the first round of the fight. She landed several punches early and maintained control of the center of The Octagon for more than four minutes.

It was only late in the first round when Correia got the second of two tie-ups after a flurry from Eye, that she had her opponent facing the back of the cage.

Eye landed 27 of her 79 strikes (32 percent) in the first round and 22 of those were considered significant blows. Correia landed at a higher volume, 39 percent, but threw only 43 strikes, 39 of which were considered significant.

The bridge of Correia’s nose was reddened from Eye’s strikes.

Early in the second round, Eye absorbed several hard left-handed jabs from Correia, and that opened up a cut on the right side of her face. However, Eye stayed with the action, even smiling taking some of the punches and responded with a flurry that had Correia backing up to the cage fence with 75 seconds left in the round.

Eye stuffed a pair of takedown attempts in the final minute of action and ducked out of a potential fight-ending overhand right from Correia. Just as she had in the first round, Eye outlanded Correia, 27-23, in the second.

Over the final five minutes of action, Correia landed more punches, 30-23, and had a 15-14 edge in significant strikes in the third round.


CLEVELAND -- The Ultimate Fighting Championship is making its debut appearance in Cleveland, Ohio, with tonight's UFC 203 fight card at Quicken Loans Arena.

Two Northeast Ohio fighters are at the top of the cards, as Jessica Eye takes on Bethe Correia in the feature on the preliminary card and UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic puts his title on the line against veteran Alistair Overeem in the main event of the evening.


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