UFC Denver: Rodriguez’s Last-Second Stunner, Cerrone Make History

In a bout worthy of not just Fight of the Night, but maybe Fight of the Year, Yair Rodriguez pulled off a finish that should be nominated for many different awards as part of a history-making and -celebrating night at UFC Denver — an event that celebrated 25 years of the UFC.

In the main event, Rodriguez — competing in his first fight since UFC 211 in May 2017 — scored an unbelievable, come-from-behind knockout of “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung with an elbow thrown behind his own head. The knockout tied a UFC record set by Demetrious Johnson for latest finish in a UFC bout.

Rodriguez landed a quick kick that stumbled Jung in the opening seconds before focusing on leg kicks. Jung went into his “Korean Zombie” instinct, swarming Rodriguez with several combinations of punches. Rodriguez attempted an overhand but got his punch caught. The first featured continued sound exchanges from both men. Rodriguez managed to avoid several of Jung’s pressure punches, but a late takedown attempt ended in Jung stuffing it and trying to take his back as the two rolled.

Jung got Rodriguez against a cage wall early on in the second round. Rodriguez managed to reverse the position, but the two were forced to be separated after an accidental knee to Jung’s groin. When time resumed, the two squared down again. Rodriguez threw a hard elbow, but Jung, in Korean Zombie fashion, walked through it and clinched Rodriguez up against the cage again. The final minute of the second saw an intense exchange, which featured Jung avoiding two major kicks, putting on more pressure and the two exchanging grapples, attempting to get a takedown or throw in on the other.

While Jung was cut open late in the second, he seemed recovered and without much issues in the third, continuing to walk through what Rodriguez could dish out and landing his own straights and combinations. The Korean Zombie stunned Rodriguez with a jab in the middle of the round, busting him open around the mouth, and nearly again at the end of the round — when he capitalized on a failed rolling kick from Rodriguez and swarmed the Mexican fighter.

It looked like the pressure by The Korean Zombie was getting to Rodriguez, whose cut around the mouth was starting to get worse. But Rodriguez managed to get Jung to the ground and fired away, each bringing forth a methodical picking of striking. Rodriguez was stunned by a punch, and Jung tried to get on the attack but Rodriguez countered, with both men attempting a flying knee.

And after a very even fifth round, Rodriguez delivered the surprising elbow that caught everyone off guard at the final second before the horn.

In the co-main event, Colorado native Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone secured a comeback, first-round submission win over Mike Perry. With the win, Cerrone passes Michael Bisping and Georges St Pierre to become the winningest fighter in UFC history (21 wins), and he breaks Vitor Belfort and Anderson Silva’s record for most finishes in UFC history (15).

Cerrone and Perry clinched up at the start, with Perry landing a couple of knees. Perry clinched again when stuffing a Cerrone takedown, landing a couple of more knees before separating. Perry managed to get a takedown with about two minutes left in the round, but Cerrone managed to reverse and get into top game.

Cerrone got Perry’s back and attempted a rear-naked choke. While it wasn’t sunk in, Cerrone managed to trap Perry’s arm. Perry popped out, but Cerrone quickly attempted a triangle choke. After that was avoided, Cerrone managed to latch onto Perry’s arm, bringing him down with an armbar, getting the tap with just seconds remaining in the round.

UFC Denver Main Card Results:
Featherweight: Yair Rodriguez def. Chan Sung Jung via KO (Rd. 5, 4:59)
Welterweight: Donald Cerrone def. Mike Perry via submission (armbar) (Rd. 1, 4:46)
Women’s Bantamweight: Germaine de Randamie def. *Raquel Pennington via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Lightweight: Beneil Dariush def. Thiago Moises via unanimous decision (30-25, 30-25, 30-26)
Women’s Strawweight: Maycee Barber def. Hannah Cifers via TKO (Rd. 2, 2:01)
Lightweight: Mike Trizano def. Luis Pena via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 30-27)

UFC Denver Preliminary Card Results:
Women’s strawweight: Ashley Yoder def. Amanda Cooper via split decision (29-28, 27-30, 29-28)
Featherweight: Bobby Moffett def. Chas Skelly via TKO (technical submission, D’Arce choke) (Rd. 2, 2:43)
Lightweight: Davi Ramos def. John Gunther via submission (rear-naked choke) (Rd. 1, 1:57)
Lightweight: Devonte Smith def. Julian Erosa via KO (Rd. 1, 0:46)

UFC Denver Early Prelims Card Results:
Flyweight: Eric Shelton def. Joseph Morales via split decision (29-28, 27-30, 30-27)
Bantamweight: Mark de la Rosa def. Joby Sanchez via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
* Pennington missed weight; fined 20% of her fight purse

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