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Alexander Hernandez was not quite ready for Donald Cerrone’s brand of primetime.
Cerrone returned to the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s lightweight division and cut down “Alexander the Great” with a head kick and follow-up punches in the second round of their featured UFC Fight Night 143 prelim on Saturday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Hernandez (10-2, 2-1 UFC) met his end 3:43 into Round 2, as he tasted defeat for the first time in nearly six years.
Experience paid enormous dividends for Cerrone (35-11, 22-8 UFC), who weathered an early rush from the Ohana Academy export. “Cowboy” pieced together three-, four- and five-strike combinations, attacked the legs, body and head and pushed Hernandez backward. He was effective at range and in close quarters. In the second round, Cerrone fired a head kick through the Texan’s defenses. The impact stunned and then felled Hernandez, leaving him vulnerable to subsequent punches. A series of right hands from Cerrone prompted referee Todd Anderson to intervene.
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Calderwood Spoils Lipski Debut
Joanne Calderwood won for the fifth time in eight Octagon appearances, as she captured a unanimous decision over former KSW champion Ariane Lipski in a three-round undercard tilt at 125 pounds. Calderwood (13-3, 5-3 UFC) swept the scorecards with 30-26, 30-26 and 30-27 marks from the judges.
Lipski (11-4, 0-1 UFC) met with early adversity and seemed out of sorts for much of the match. Calderwood delivered a takedown in the first round, advanced toward the back and threatened with a rear-naked choke, arm-triangle choke and armbar. She then outstruck Lipski in the second round and turned back to her submission skills in the third, where she countered a takedown with another armbar attempt.
The loss snapped Lipski’s nine-fight winning streak.
Undefeated Menifield Mauls Moreira
Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series graduate Alonzo Menifield put away Vinicius Alves Moreira with punches in the first round of their preliminary light heavyweight pairing. Moreira (9-2, 0-1 UFC) succumbed to blows 3:56 into Round 1, his run of consecutive wins halted at five.
Menifield (8-0, 1-0 UFC) took the Hulk Smash approach, letting his hands go with reckless abandon. Powerful right hands found their mark over and over again, and while Moreira managed to initiate a clinch, it only prolonged the inevitable. Upon separation, Menifield countered an ill-advised spinning back kick to the body with a right hook to the jaw. Moreira hit the deck and ate a few more right hands before referee Dan Miragliotta made the decision to intervene.
The 31-year-old Menifield has finished all eight of his opponents, six of them in the first round.
Sandhagen Armbar Dispatches Bautista
Elevation Fight Team representative Cory Sandhagen submitted promotional newcomer Mario Bautista with an armbar in the first round of their undercard scrap at 135 pounds. A substitution for the injured John Lineker, Bautista (6-1, 0-1 UFC) bowed out 3:31 into Round 1.
The two men traded leg kicks before Sandhagen (10-1, 3-0 UFC) floored the MMA Lab prospect with a sensational flying knee. Bautista scrambled to his feet, answered with a takedown and promptly wandered into an upside-down triangle choke. Sandhagen later rolled for a kimura, transitioned to the armbar and sealed the deal.
Sandhagen has rattled off five straight victories, all of them finishes.
Bermudez Downs Edwards, Retires
“The Ultimate Fighter 14” finalist Dennis Bermudez overcame a slow start, which included his being knocked down in the first round, to pocket a unanimous decision over Te Edwards in a preliminary lightweight confrontation. All three cageside judges scored it the same: 30-26 for Bermudez (17-9, 10-7 UFC), who afterward announced his retirement.
Edwards (6-3, 0-2 UFC) ran out of gas in the second round. Bermudez executed repeated takedowns, delivered elbow-laced ground-and-pound and threatened with a variety of submissions. The 32-year-old Long Island MMA representative fished for kimuras, guillotines, armbars and keylocks, and while none of his attempts were successful, it told the judges all they needed to know about where the fighters stood when it was over.
The loss snapped a four-fight losing streak for Bermudez, who posted his first win since Aug. 6, 2016.
Surging Neal Sinks Muhammad
Sharp punching combinations and airtight takedown defense carried rising Fortis MMA star Geoff Neal to a unanimous decision over former Titan Fighting Championship titleholder Belal Muhammad in a three-round undercard battle at 170 pounds. All three cageside judges saw it for Neal (11-2, 3-0 UFC): 29-28, 30-27 and 30-27.
Muhammad (14-3, 5-3 UFC) enjoyed some success with punches and kicks to the body but could match neither his opponent’s power nor his athleticism. Neal did his best work in the third round. There, he knocked down Muhammad twice, first with a stinging left hand and later with a well-disguised head kick. Neal on both occasions pounced and pounded, but the finish he sought did not materialize.
Neal, 28, has won five fights in a row.
Rencountre Choke Submits Stewart
Alliance MMA’s Chance Rencountre submitted Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series alum Kyle Stewart with a rear-naked choke in the first round of their preliminary welterweight affair. A short-notice replacement for the injured Randy Brown, Stewart (11-2, 0-1 UFC) conceded defeat 2:25 into Round 1.
The 32-year-old Rencountre (13-3, 1-1 UFC) recovered from an early low blow, struck for a pair of takedowns and ultimately slid to his counterpart’s back. The Oklahoman secured his position, cinched the choke and prompted the tapout.
Rencountre has won five of his last six bouts.