Quicken Loans Arena quaked as Stipe Miocic had to be pulled off Alistair Overeem following the ground and pound assault that gave way to another championship celebration in Cleveland.
It’s been one hell of a summer in “The Land.”
On a night filled with amazing finishes and crazy, out-of-the-ordinary moments, Miocic delivered and retained his UFC title, allowing his city – one just getting over 52 years of miserable suffering without a title by any of its pro sports teams or athletes – to continue basking in championship euphoria.
Cleveland rocked Saturday night for Miocic and the champ returned the favor by bouncing Alistair Overeem’s head off the canvas to put an exclamation mark on an amazing fight week in OH-IO.
Miocic was pumped to retain his title but he may have been equally stoked to pass the baton to his favorite football team that is set to kick off the NFL season.
“Cleveland people are crazy. That’s why I live here,” Miocic said. “That’s how we do it; we don’t mess around. Wait until next weekend when I go tailgating at the Browns game. There’s going to be a lot more fights. I’m not going to be in any of them but I’m going to watch them.
These are the UFC 203 Talking Points:
CM Punk loses and wins in debut
On the night of CM Punk’s UFC debut, the infamous audience sign that read “If Punk loses we riot” – back in 2011 when he took on John Cena for the WWE title in his hometown of Chicago – came to mind.
But that didn’t seem to be the feeling at Quicken Loans Arena Saturday night. Not for Punk, anyway.
Miocic had the market cornered on hometown heroics, but Phil Brooks, the ultra-entertaining former professional wrestler, delivered. Punk’s entrance and the show he brought with him to the Octagon was truly riveting.
When his music hit – the Living Colour classic “Cult of Personality” – the place exploded.
When the fight started, things didn’t go his way. But CM Punk gave it his best shot, and to knock a guy who wanted to try something seems like a bigger loss than the submission defeat Punk suffered at UFC 203.
“I know there’re a lot of doubters but life is about falling down and getting back up,” Punk said. “So if there’s a kid out there that’s told by a parent, a coach or teacher – somebody that they look up to; somebody that’s supposed to believe in them – tell them no.
“Don’t listen to them. Believe in yourself. Sometimes the outcome isn’t always what you desire it to be. But the true failure in life is not trying at all.”
Heavyweight picture scrambled beyond Stipe
Miocic plans on holding his UFC title for a long time, and after dispatching of the legendary Overeem it’s hard to argue with him.
After the champ, at the top things get a little murky.
Fabricio Werdum took out Travis Browne in a less-than-thrilling co-main event. UFC president Dana White didn’t love the fight, meaning Werdum could be another big win away from a title shot.
Waiting in the wings is former champion Can Velasquez, who may make the most sense as next No. 1 contender following his dismantling of Browne at UFC 200.
But whoever is next may have to wait awhile. Miocic plans to take a few months to honeymoon with his wife before taking his next fight.
Gall shows superstar potential in win
It was certainly a fine performance by Mickey Gall in his dominant disposal of CM Punk in his second UFC fight.
The young gun, as he so adequately put it, took full advantage of his moment in the spotlight. Gall called out Sage Northcutt in an epic post-fight interview.
The talented Gall showed his skills in the Octagon and on the mic on Saturday night. He also proved that he may be more than a sideshow act – a fighter with real potential who is ready to start taking on the killers of the UFC.
Andrade sends thunderous message to strawweight division
Nicknamed “pile driver,” Jessica Andrade lived up to the moniker with a savage slam of Joanne Calderwood. Andrade overpowered the Scottish superstar before locking in a guillotine choke to finish her second-straight fight at strawweight after her move down from 135 pounds.
Before UFC 203, Andrade was hailed as a serious contender in a division constantly looking for new challengers for dominant champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk. After the event it’s clear that the Brazilian is coming for that title and she stated her case for why she should get it sooner than later.
At 115 pounds Andrade has a strength advantage against almost anyone she faces in the division. Her wrestling and ground work combined with excellent hand speed and power on the feet make her a dangerous threat to Jedrzejczyk. But the question is when she finally does face the Polish sensation whether or not her gas tank will hold up against the proven marathon fighter Jedrzejczyk.
Andrade is ready for whatever comes next.
“I just want to stay focused and keep training right now,” Andrade said. “If the UFC wants me to fight in Brazil, Japan or wherever tomorrow, I would. If they give me the title shot I’m ready for that too.”