Round 1. Varner comes in with strikes. Cerrone is very calm while Varner darts from side to side. Cerrone lands a left and right on the inside. Varner hits a left that stuns Cerrone and then scores the takedown. Cerrone works the rubber guard, which is very popular tonight. Varner fires down tons of hard punches into Cerrone's guard. Varner is standing up and bringing the punches down with tremendous authority. Cerrone has a big lump on his head that may grow. Varner postures up for more punches and Cerrone uses the chance to get back to his feet at the end of the round. 10-8 Varner.
Round 2. Cerrone lands a kick to the body and Varner uses the opportunity to score the takedown. He quickly passes guard, but Cerrone gets back to his feet. Cerrone is now walking Varner down, as Varner keps backing up. Cerrone is throwing a lot of kicks. Varner gets the takedown again. Varner moves up like in the first round to throw down big bombs. Varner turns Cerrone around but they end up both back on their feet. Varner looks really tired. Cerrone still mainly throws one punch or one kick at a time. He has an opportunity to take over, but he's not really capitalizing. Cerrone opens up late in the round but Varner takes him down again. Cerrone locks in what looks to be a pretty tight triangle at the end of the round but Varner is saved by the bell. 10-9 Cerrone because of the triangle at the end.
Round 3. They hug at the start of the round and then go back to work. Cerrone looks to have a lot more energy at this point and he is landing the better punches and kicks. Varner lands some punches, though, and scores another takedown. He works for ground and pound, and tries to pass guard. Cerrone is cut. Varner grabs a guillotine but Cerrone escapes. They are back standing, but Cerrone can't see. He's got cuts around each eye to go with the lump on his head. A doctor may stop the fight. With Cerrone having trouble seeing Varner is doing a better job in the standup, and scores another takedown. Varner with a little ground and pound at the end. 10-9 Varner. We'll see if the doctor lets the fight continue.
Round 4. The fight continues. Varner lands a hard kick to the head. Varner is swinging wildly, looking to finish the fight. Cerrone, clearly not watching Affliction last night, goes for a flying knee that misses. Cerrone with a nice combination. Varner with the takedown. Varner with some more fierce ground and pound. Cerrone is able to neutralize him, and then get back up. Varner with another takedown. 10-9 Varner. Cerrone is likely going to need to finish in the final round.
Round 5. Varner again moving around while Cerrone looks to close the distance. Varner with another takedown. He gets it basically every time he tries. But Cerrone gets back up again. Cerrone is pressing the action, while Varner looks to avoid. Cerrone gets a takedown of his own. As they're getting up, Cerrone lands a knee to the owned opponent. Varner will have time to recover. But he can't. The crowd is very disappointed, and we go to the scorecards. Disappointing ending to a pretty entertaining fight and good show.
49-46 Varner, 48-47 Cerrone, 49-46 Varner.
The California rule is different than some places, where if the fouled opponent cannot continue, there is a disqualification. While I think that rule is fine, I strongly disagree with the fact that the partial round is scored the same as the other full rounds. I'm going to try to track down a California State Athletic Commission official to get more information on this.
Okay, here's the update. The California State Athletic Commission was having a meeting, but I was relayed that if a title fight goes into the fourth round and there is a foul, it goes to the judges' scorecards, and the partial round where the foul was committed is considered, regardless of how long that round went. If 15 seconds elapse before the unintentional foul, the judges must score the round just like the full five minute rounds.
The breakdown of the scores was as follows: Nelson Hamilton and Richard Bertrand gave rounds 1 to 4 10-9 for Varner and round 5 10-9 for Cerrone. Alejandro Rochin gave rounds 1 and 3 to Varner 10-9 and rounds 2, 4 and 5 to Cerrone 10-9.
The promotion announced 8,000 fans in attendance and a $516,000 gate. Aldo got best KO, Faber best sub and Cerrone-Varner best fight of the night.