UFC on Fox 11 Results: Grades for Every Main Card Fighter
The UFC hit the Sunshine State for the first time since 2011 on Saturday night, offering up a headliner between Travis Browne and Fabricio Werdum to an Orlando crowd starved to see the Octagon once again.
Werdum prevailed in the main event, likely securing a shot at Cain Velasquez sometime later this year, and doing so with a lopsided decision that left fans clamoring to see that tilt.
Yoel Romero, Donald Cerrone and Miesha Tate were also successful on the Fox showcase. Here are the grades for those performances, as well as for their opponents.
Brad Tavares might well have been in over his head going into this one, a The Ultimate Fighter alum still in development fighting a Cuban bear with an Olympic medal in wrestling.
And if he wasn't, he sure looked it. Romero threw him around the cage, bettered him in stand-up exchanges and simply outdid him at every turn.
This is probably the last time Tavares can afford a loss like this before he goes from prospect to bust, so he'll look to turn it around next time out. This one was forgettable, though.
Romero was a complete animal in Orlando, routing Tavares with the level of effort one usually reserves for thumbing through a magazine at the dentist's office. He ragdolled Tavares with heavy throws and takedowns, peppered him standing (the realm most thought he'd be disadvantaged in) and generally made the fight an exhibition of his own skill.
At nearly 37 years old, it's hard not to wish the physical freak had found MMA earlier in his life, but there's still time to make one run at the title. He'll probably land a legitimate top-10 opponent in his next bout, one that he undeniably earned Saturday night on Fox.
Edson Barboza was a house on fire in the early going, lighting up Donald Cerrone with furious combinations and power striking. It looked like a formality that he was on the way to the biggest win of his career, that is until a sharp jab put him on dream street.
From there, he was caught in a rear-naked choke, one that he tapped to after a brief struggle, perhaps scoring himself the most undeserved loss in UFC history.
That's the sport, though: You can look the best you ever have and still take a loss for your troubles. Expect him to build on this in his next outing, likely to the tune of a win if he can replicate this performance.
Cerrone looked horrible in his bout with Barboza, eating all varieties of punishment on his way to what everyone watching surely expected to be a loss.
Then, off of a reset, he pumped a quick jab that landed and surprisingly lunged onto Barboza's back to lock in a rear-naked choke. Most guys would try to finish with strikes there, but Cerrone's awareness to go in a different direction might well have been the thing to land him the shocking win.
It wasn't his best work, but even when it's bad with Cerrone it's often very, very good. At least for fans.
Liz Carmouche started well enough, staking her claim to the cage with some aggression and a high work rate in the first round against Tate. Unfortunately she couldn't maintain it, and the slow-starting Tate began to pull away through the subsequent two rounds on her way to a win.
Carmouche is a warrior and there's no question her UFC career shouldn't be in jeopardy based on her style and the shallow division she works out of, but it's hard to tell these days. Her record of 1-3 in the UFC doesn't help the case either.
She didn't do anything to stand out of the crowd on Saturday, so she might be avoiding Sean Shelby's calls and texts for the next week or so just in case.
Tate put on a vintage performance in Orlando, giving away her first round before waking up later in the bout and starting to show up. By the time she was in top gear she was all over Carmouche, grinding her down to a nub with ground-and-pound and tenacious submission attempts.
It was a quality redemption for the lady they call Cupcake, who'd lost her last two and probably won't be in title talk until Ronda Rousey is no longer champion after her pair of losses to the superstar judoka.
Nevertheless, Tate looked as good as she ever has against Carmouche and is clearly not keen on being knocked from the top of the division just yet.
Browne was bringing serious business to the cage on Saturday night, spending fight week staring through dead eyes and speaking with a confidence that only demolishing men like Alistair Overeem and Josh Barnett can provide.
Unfortunately, when it came time to back up the attitude in the Octagon, Browne was the flattest he's ever been in the UFC. It was his first truly legitimate defeat, but it was one he earned.
Werdum smacked him around the cage until he'd exhausted himself, then he smacked some more. By the time the bout was over, Browne's face was covered in a proverbial crimson mask thanks to the Brazilian's handiwork.
The good news is that Browne is still young in the sport and losing to one of the world's elite won't kill him. It will likely only make him stronger.
After nearly a year away from the cage, Werdum returned to the Octagon in the Fox main event, laying a surprising beating on upstart Hawaiian Browne. While there was plenty of reason to wonder if the aging jiu-jitsu ace still had it, he left no questions with his performance.
He stalked Browne around the cage, getting the better of nearly every exchange and putting his chin through the paces with a stiff jab and a varied collection of follow-up strikes. When the scorecards were read, there wasn't a person surprised that he was on the right side of a dominant decision.
It's scary to think that, as he enters his late 30s, Werdum is as good as he's ever been. His grappling is beyond elite and his stand-up is among the most unheralded in the sport, and after over a decade in MMA, he seems to be putting it together.
Barring something outrageous, he's up next for Velasquez. All of a sudden that doesn't seem the foregone conclusion it might have before Saturday.