Yair Rodriguez authored the clear frontrunner for “Knockout of the Year,” and his timing could not have been better.
A replacement for the injured Frankie Edgar, “The Ultimate Fighter Latin America” winner brought down Chan Sung Jung with a no-look upward elbow in the final second of the final round of the UFC Fight Night 139 headliner on Saturday at the Pepsi Center in Denver. An out-cold Jung (14-5, 4-2 UFC) hit the deck 4:59 into Round 1, the victim in one of the most extraordinary finishes in Ultimate Fighting Championship history.
Four-plus back-and-forth rounds brought everything from the traditional to the exotic to the masses, as two of MMA’s most dangerous and offensively gifted featherweights let go of their inhibitions. Jung cut loose with a mean jab and chopping right hands; his counterpart attacked the legs with kicks, connected with spinning back elbows and even managed to integrate standing hammerfists to the clavicle.
Even so, their encounter -- also a contender for “Fight of the Year” -- will be remembered for the dramatic manner in which it ended. With 10 seconds left, the battered and bloodied combatants paused to pay their respects to one another, then set out to finish what they started. Rodriguez (11-2, 7-1 UFC) ducked as Jung charged forward and delivered the crushing upward reverse elbow that was on the money. “The Korean Zombie” froze and collapsed, his night’s work ruined in an instant.
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Cerrone Armbar Submits Perry
Donald Cerrone dispatched Jackson-Wink MMA’s Mike Perry with an armbar in the first round of their welterweight co-main event. Cerrone (34-11, 21-8 UFC) drew the curtain 4:46 into Round 1. “Cowboy” now ranks first on the UFC’s all-time list in career victories with 21, breaking a tie with Georges St. Pierre and Michael Bisping.
Perry (12-4, 5-4 UFC) never got started. After eating a series of leg kicks, he delivered a takedown and landed in side control, only to be immediately reversed. Cerrone locked up a triangle choke during a subsequent scramble, bailed on the maneuver and transitioned to the armbar. Perry tried to slam out of the submission but made his situation worse, and moments later, he was forced to bow out.
Cerrone had not won a fight via armbar since June 1, 2008.
De Randamie Outstrikes Pennington to Decision
Former UFC women’s featherweight champion Germaine de Randamie extended her winning streak to four fights with a unanimous decision over “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 18 semifinalist Raquel Pennington in a three-round confrontation at 135 pounds. In her first appearance since February 2017, de Randamie (8-3, 5-1 UFC) swept the scorecards with 30-27 marks across the board.
Pennington (9-7, 6-4 UFC) was simply outgunned, her effective offense confined to brief stretches in the clinch. De Randamie snapped her head back with blistering combinations, kept a stiff jab in her face, mixed in leg kicks and cut off her advances in close quarters. Pennington tried desperately to drag the fight to the ground, but her Dutch counterpart refused to cooperate.
The 30-year-old Pennington has suffered consecutive losses for just the second time as a pro.
Struggling Dariush Back on Track
Takedowns, sporadic ground-and-pound and repeated rear-naked choke attempts carried Kings MMA export Beneil Dariush to a unanimous decision over former Resurrection Fighting Alliance champion Thiago Moises in a three-round lightweight feature. All three cageside judges scored it for Dariush (15-4-1, 9-4-1 UFC): 30-25, 30-25 and 30-26.
It did not go well for Moises (11-3, 0-1 UFC), a short-notice substitute for the injured Chris Gruetzemacher. The 23-year-old Brazilian had no answers for Dariush, who grinded on him in the clinch and executed takedowns in all three rounds. He appeared close to finishing Moises on multiple occasions but saw his bids for rear-naked chokes denied and settled for the lopsided decision.
The victory was the first for Dariush since Nov. 5, 2016.
Barber Obliterates Replacement Cifers
Blue-chip prospect Maycee Barber dazzled in her organizational debut, as she disposed of Hannah Cifers with ferocious ground-and-pound in the second round of their featured pairing at 115 pounds. A replacement for the injured Maia Kahaunaele-Stevenson, Cifers (8-3, 0-1 UFC) required assistance from referee Kevin MacDonald 2:01 into Round 2.
Barber (6-0, 1-0 UFC) unleashed her weapons in the clinch from the start, attacking the Titan Fighting Championship veteran with foot stomps, standing elbows, short punches and knee strikes. Cifers held her own for much of the first round; the second was a different story. There, Barber slashed open two cuts with standing elbows -- one near the left eye, the other on the right side of the North Carolinian’s forehead -- before driving her to the mat in a pool of her own blood. Punches and elbows continued to fall until MacDonald stepped in to halt the mauling.
The loss snapped Cifers’ five-fight winning streak.
Unbeaten Trizano Upends ‘Violent Bob Ross’
Former Ring of Combat champion Michael Trizano kept his perfect professional record intact, as he eked out a split decision over Luis Pena in a three-round lightweight showcase. Judges Chris Lee and Ben Ramirez scored it for Trizano, 29-28 and 30-27, while Sal D’Amato saw it 29-28 for Pena.
Leg kicks and clean punching combinations from Trizano (8-0, 2-0 UFC) paved his way to victory and had the man they call “Violent Bob Ross” shaking his head in defiance and frustration. Pena (5-1, 1-1 UFC) tried to counteract his deficit on the feet by pursuing clinches and takedowns but did so with only moderate success. The American Kickboxing Academy prospect climbed to Trizano’s back in the second round, dragged him to the canvas with a body triangle and nearly cinched a rear-naked choke. However, his inability to finish proved costly when all was said and done.
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