Cleveland still has its champion. Stipe Miocic survived a flurry early in the first round when Alistair Overreem clipped him with a tough right hook and tried to lock in a guillotine choke. But Miocic survived the scare, got up and sent Overeem running, literally, for his life.
Miocic found the range and clipped Overeem before getting his back and getting to full mount before destroying the Dutchman.
And like that, Cleveland roared again.
Miocic grabbed the mic and screamed "O-H!"
It was Miocic's first title defense and 13th win in the UFC by way of KO/TKO. Once again, Overeem falls just short of claiming the heavyweight crown. Miocic may in fact be the real deal Holyfield that the heavyweight division has been starving for.
No champion has made more than two title defenses in the weightclass, but if a top-level striker like Overeem was literally running from Miocic's striking, then new challengers have something to worry about.
"He's a tough guy. He's a veteran he's fought the best in the world," Miocic said. "I told you, I'm gonna keep this belt for a long time."
Meanwhile, CM Punk's UFC debut didn't exactly go according to plan. From the opening bell, Punk was in trouble as Mickey Gall grabbed his legs and refused to let go, getting Punk's back and utilizing impressive ground and pound.
Despite the poor showing, Punk remained upbeat.
"Obviously Mickey's a hell of a fighter. I know there's a lot of doubters, but life's about falling down and getting up. It's not about the times you get knocked down, it's about the times you get up," Punk said. "So if there's any kid out there that's told by a parent or a coach or a teacher or someone who is supposed to push them and says no, don't listen to them.
"Believe in yourself. Sometimes the outcome isn't what you desire it to be. I know it sounds preachy and kinda weird for a guy that just got beat up, but [expletive] it. This is the time of my life."
It's easy to take shots at Punk. He was completely out-matched in every aspect of the fight and he's not shying away from it.
"I'm beating myself up more than I got beat up. It's disappointing," Punk said. "My initial venture in MMA was going to be at the lowest level. The UFC presented itself. I would have been a fool to say no."
It's true. He took the shot that was presented to him. Even Brock Lesnar, who the Ohio Sanctioning Body used as an example for why they allowed this fight to take place, fought at a lower level for his first MMA fight.
Punk will go back to the drawing board, but it is going to take a lot of improvement for him to get to the level he hopes to be at.
In the co-main event, Fabricio Werdum absolutely dominated Travis Browne from start to finish. Browne was really not competitive after appearing to suffer a finger injury in the first round, but the fight did provide an awesome start when Werdum flew into Browne with a sidekick.
|UFC 203 results|
|Stipe Miocic||Alistair Overeem||First round TKO|
|Fabricio Werdum||Travis Browne||Unanimous decision|
|Mickey Gall||CM Punk||First round submission (rear-naked choke)|
|Jimmie Rivera||Urijah Faber||Unanimous decision|
|Jessica Andrade||Joanne Calderwood||First round submission (guillotine choke)|
The main card is set for a 10 p.m. ET start time and is available on pay-per-view through your local cable provider for $59.99. You can also stream the fights on UFC.TV through your computer or TV on Xbox, Playstation, Amazon Firestick, Apple TV, Roku, and much more.
CBS Sports will also be providing live updates from the fights.