CLEVELAND -- Cleveland had never played host to the Ultimate Fighting Championship prior to Saturday night’s UFC 203 card at Quicken Loans Arena, but early indications are the city could very well be in the mix to host another event in the future.
More than 18,000 people packed into The Q to watch native son Stipe Miocic successfully defend his UFC heavyweight championship against Alistair Overeem in the main event of the evening. The UFC announced a gate of more than $2 million for the Cleveland card.
“It was awesome,” UFC president Dana White told WKYC.com after the main event. “This crowd was dynamite. Literally, probably one of the top three crowds ever. It was awesome.”
When asked about Cleveland hosting another UFC event, White said, “Oh yeah.”
“A great, great place for any sporting event, let alone a fight,” White said.
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 to put Miocic into a guillotine choke, but the champion kept his feet on the mat and circled his way out of the submission.
However, in the final minute of the first round, Miocic turned the tide of the fight for good.
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, which opened up the downed kickboxer’s defenses.
Following another left hand, Miocic landed four straight rights to Overeem’s jaw, knocking out the challenger and forcing the referee’s stoppage. It was Miocic’s fourth straight win, all of which have come via knockout or TKO.
“That was an incredible fight,” White said. “Stipe gets clipped right in the beginning, and normally, when Alistair Overeem puts that guillotine choke on, people don’t get out of that. Stipe gets out. He gets up. He keeps his composure and ends up winning in spectacular knockout fashion, and the place goes crazy. One of the loudest things I’ve ever heard.”