On Saturday, Sept. 10, the UFC hosted UFC 203: Miocic vs. Overeem from the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.
In the night’s main event, heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic looked to defend his belt for the first time in his own backyard as he took on former Strikeforce, DREAM and K-1 champion Alistair Overeem. The 34-year-old Miocic captured the belt with a violent, first-round knockout of Brazilian Fabricio Werdum at UFC 198 in May. The Dutchman Overeem entered the match-up having won four straight inside the Octagon, including back-to-back knockout wins over former champions Andrei Arlovski and Junior dos Santos.
The co-main event also featured action in the heavyweight division as the aformentioned Fabricio Werdum rematched Travis Browne.
Also on the main card, former WWE superstar Phil “CM Punk” Brooks made his MMA debut against Mickey Gall.
The 10-fight event kicked off Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET with one fight streaming on UFC Fight Pass. Four additional preliminary card bouts followed at 8 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1, with the five-fight main card airing live on pay-per-view at 10 p.m. ET.
Heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic retained his title with a first-round knockout of Alistair Overeem. The fight was a back-and-forth battle as Overeem dropped Miocic early with a left hand. Overeem attacked with a guillotine choke, but Miocic recovered and powered back to his feet. The pair then traded heavy shots, wobbling one another repeatedly. In the final minute of the round Miocic put Overeem on his back. From top position, Miocic rained heavy punches, turning out the lights on the Dutchman.
The rematch between heavyweight Fabricio Werdum and Travis Browne ended the same way as the first meeting, a Werdum decision win. Werdum opened the fight with a flying side kick to the face of Browne. A punch from Werdum hit Browne in the hand, damaging one of his fingers. Browne essentially called timeout and the referee oddly granted it. The action continued and Werdum dropped Browne with a right hand. He flurried for the finish and took Browne’s back. Browne managed to survive and the remainder of the fight was sluggish. Browne was apprehensive with his offense following the injury and Werdum had the higher output, earning the win on the scorecards.
The MMA debut of former WWE superstar Phil “CM Punk” Brooks lasted just over two minutes as Mickey Gall submitted him in round one. Brooks came out aggressively, running straight at Gall. Gall switched levels and planted Brooks on his back with a double-leg takedown. From the top, he dropped heavy punches and elbows. Gall passed to side control, then to mount. Brooks rolled to his stomach and Gall took his back. Gall softened him up with punches before locking in a rear-naked choke and coercing a tap.
Bantamweight Jimmie Rivera extended his winning streak to 19 with a decision win over veteran Urijah Faber. Faber came out firing kicks, but Rivera countered with punches. Midway through the opening round, Faber started shaking his right hand and stopped throwing it. Round two saw Rivera pepper Faber’s lead leg with kicks. Faber’s leg turned red and he began to limp badly. It was more of the same in round three, but an eye poke from Faber forced the doctor to check on Rivera. The fight continued and Rivera cruised to victory.
Brazilian Jessica Andrade continued her ascension up the strawweight ladder, submitting Scotland’s Joanne Calderwood in the first round. Calderwood came out firing kicks, but Andrade quickly closed the distance and looked to clinch. After the pair briefly separated, Andrade scored with a takedown. Calderwood worked back to her feet only to be slammed to the ground again. Andrade delivered heavy ground and pound and frequently passed to dominant positions. Calderwood tried to stand with less than a minute left in the round, but left her neck exposed. Andrade capitalized, slapping on a deep guillotine choke and forcing Calderwood to tap.
In a bantamweight bout to close out the prelims, Jessica Eye and Bethe Correia spent 15 minutes on the feet. Both women sought to end the fight with overhand rights, but neither fighter was able to truly establish any dominance. Eye’s movement and volume gave her the edge in the opening stanza, but Correia fought back in round two by finding a home for her jab. Eye bled from her right eye in round three, while Correia’s nose dripped blood. Correia was the aggressor in the final frame and that proved to be the difference, as she took home a split decision victory.
Middleweights Brad Tavares and Caio Magalhaes engaged in a grueling, drawn-out affair that saw Tavares leave with a decision win. The pace was slow throughout the opening rounds as the fighters threw single shots and frequently clinched along the cage. Magalhaes looked for multiple single-leg takedowns, but Tavares showed off great balance. The output of Magalhaes decreased as the fight progressed, but he did attempt a guillotine late in the fight. Tavares escaped and landed with volume late. When it was finally over, Tavares earned the split decision nod.
Nik Lentz made short-notice opponent Michael McBride pay for missing weight, stopping their lightweight contest in round two via TKO. Lentz was unfazed by a large height and reach discrepancy, wading in with punches. Once inside, Lentz went to his bread and butter, strong wrestling and grappling. He frequently put McBride in tough positions on the mat, but McBride was able to defend guillotine and arm-triangle chokes. In round two, Lentz got wild and McBride briefly dropped him. Lentz recovered and took back dominant position. He transitioned to McBride’s back and delivered a series of punches that halted the bout.
Lightweight Drew Dober wasted little time giving newcomer Jason Gonzalez a rude welcome to the Octagon. After a few heavy leg kicks early in the bout, Dober backed Gonzalez against the cage with a flurry. A big right hand wobbled Gonzalez and Dober unloaded with punch after punch until the referee intervened.
The lone Fight Pass prelim featured a big finish from Hawaii’s Yancy Medeiros. After a measured first round with opponent Sean Spencer, Medeiros found an opening for a head kick late in the opening frame. He went back to the technique to open round two, dropping Spencer. Medeiros smelled blood, taking the back of Spencer and locking in a fight-finishing rear-naked choke.