- Brett Okamoto, ESPN Staff Writer
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Cerrone (24-6) cruised to his fourth finish in a row on Saturday, dispatching Miller with a right head kick at 3:31 of the second round. The lightweight bout headlined a UFC Fight Night event inside Revel Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
An awkward moment occurred early in the second round, when Cerrone dropped Miller (24-5) with a front kick to the midsection. Referee Dan Miragliotta mistakenly ruled the kick illegal and stopped Cerrone from following Miller to the ground.
Miller admitted the strike was legal and even spit out his mouthpiece, but Miragliotta restarted the fight moments later. Cerrone followed the official's lead and fought on without hesitation.
"You've got to follow the ref, that's what we have refs for," Cerrone said. "I thought [the kick] was good, but I'm glad it went the way it did."
"[Cerrone] hurt me with that knee to the body early and I couldn't get my wind back no matter what I tried," Miller said. "It was like quicksand; the more I struggled, the deeper I sank.
"He got right back up when I took him down. He kept coming. He did exactly what we expected him to do. I hit him with a lot of good shots. He hit me hard and just fought a good fight; give him credit for the win."
Although the fight continued, Miller was never the same after the body kick. He was still visibly wincing from the shot as action resumed and resorted to backing up with his hands down while throwing an occasional defensive haymaker.
Smelling blood, Cerrone stalked him with more body shots before elevating a kick on the right side that dropped Miller near the fence. A few follow up punches by Cerrone and Miragliotta moved in to stop the bout.
"The body kicks started getting him worried about the body, and then I brought it up top," Cerrone said. "Whoever wants to fight -- I don't care. As soon as possible. Any [lightweights] or [welterweights] out there who want to fight? Come on."
Cerrone targeted the body throughout the lightweight contest. He met Miller's southpaw attack with well-timed knees and defended all but one of his six takedown attempts. Cageside stats showed Cerrone out-landed Miller in total strikes 54 to 30.
Fighting out of Sparta, New Jersey, Miller didn't leave the hometown crowd completely unsatisfied. His counter boxing looked slick early on, as he tagged Cerrone with several left hands inside the pocket. He appeared to hurt Cerrone near the end of the round with a counter right hand and ESPN.com scored the first 10-9 in favor of Miller.
Cerrone kept coming in the following frame though, landing an outside leg kick before hurting Miller with the body shot. The finish marks his fourth career knockout.
Prior to the win, Cerrone expressed interest in facing undefeated Dagestani Khabib Nurmagomedov (22-0) next. Heading into the weekend, ESPN.com ranked Nurmagomedov and Cerrone the Nos. 5 and 9 lightweights in the world, respectively.
Miller, 30, suffers his first official loss since May 2012. He falls to 13-4 overall in the UFC with one no-contest.
Barboza dismantles Dunham with devastating body kick
Few men can eat an Edson Barboza liver kick and keep on ticking.
Barboza (14-2) scored a quick TKO over Evan Dunham courtesy of a right kick to the body at 3:06 of the first round. Referee Keith Peterson stopped the lightweight bout immediately, as Dunham doubled over in pain from the kick.
"Everybody knows my background is in muay Thai," Barboza said. "I saw his elbow a little bit, and just as my coach taught me, it was the opening I needed for the win.
"I'm feeling great. Thank God. I trained so hard for this fight and I can't wait to step into the cage again."
Fighting in his 13th UFC bout, Dunham (14-6) was overmatched from the start. He attempted to negate Barboza's kicks by staying well on the outside and then closing distance quickly with punches and takedown attempts.
Based out of Las Vegas, Dunham shot in deep on his first double leg, but Barboza backtracked to the fence and remained upright. He separated moments later.
A strong short left hook landed for Barboza after the break and he cut off the cage on Dunham shortly after to set up the kick. Barboza has now earned a total of 10 knockouts.
The Brazilian rebounds from a submission loss to Cerrone that he suffered in the first round of a bout in April. Barboza had won three in a row prior to the loss.
Story submits Mafra via arm-triangle choke
Story (17-8) completely dominated Mafra with aggressive takedowns and solid top control. The finish came via arm-triangle choke at the 2:12 mark of the round.
A native of Tacoma, Washington, Story trained for the fight alongside former 155-pound champion Ben Henderson at The MMA Lab in Glendale, Arizona. The move was clearly a good one for Story, who has been known to brawl throughout his career.
"Going into all of my fights, I know the takedown is going to be there." Story said. "I just need to do it. Being able to go in and do what I can do was the key to my win.
"Going to train at The Lab in Glendale, Arizona, with John Crouch and Benson Henderson got me in great condition and ready for anything. Their help speaks for itself. Just look at my performance tonight."
It was a patient Story at work on Saturday, as the 29-year-old methodically worked to keep Mafra (11-2) on his back. He was three-for-three in takedown attempts in the opening round and four-of-five overall.
Mafra occasionally worked back to his feet throughout the fight, only to be dragged back down to the mat. He did well defending an early shot in the second round, but a second effort by Story produced a full body slam in the center of the cage.
After Story nearly took Mafra's back, he transitioned to the arm-triangle choke to produce a tap, earning him the fourth submission victory of his career.
Proctor plows past Salas
Coming off a first-round knockout in his last bout, Salas (12-6) looked to put Proctor away in similar fashion with aggressive, winging right hands.
The strategy paid off early but ultimately proved to be Salas' downfall. A former contestant on "The Ultimate Fighter," Proctor started to find a frequent home for the counter left hand and dropped Salas with it twice in the second round.
Referee Gasper Oliver stopped the bout at the 3:27 mark after a Proctor left hook had Salas on roller skates. Salas argued the stoppage, but it looked to be legitimate.
"I worked with a great boxing coach. Everybody knows I like to finish with my right hand, but I was able to finish with my left hook, which was great," Proctor said. "I've been working and working on my boxing, and looking for the knockout -- and it finally came. I'm so happy!"
A massive hematoma formed near Proctor's left ear after the first round, but it had little effect on the fight.
A former Division-I NCAA wrestler, Salas attempted three takedowns according to cageside stats, but failed to convert any of them.
Lineker blasts through Ozkilic in three
Behold the power (and chin) of John Lineker.
Lineker (24-7) bounced back from a difficult first round against a gritty Alptekin Ozkilic en route to a third-round TKO finish.
Referee Keith Peterson stepped in with just nine seconds remaining in the flyweight bout, awarding Lineker a 4:51 finish.
"He liked to play my game and that let me go for the striking and the exchange," Lineker said. "I found the right openings at the right time and that enabled me to get the knockout.
"I showed everybody that I'm ready to go for the title [currently held by Demetrious Johnson]. Joe Silva and Dana White, I want the title!"
The theme of the fight for Lineker was bodywork, as he brutalized Ozkilic (9-3) with punches to the midsection. Eventually, the shots became too much for Ozkilic and he dropped his hands, which opened him up to a left hook that finished the fight.
The result was a disappointing one for Ozkilic, considering how he expertly picked Lineker apart early in the fight. A well-timed, double-leg takedown scored for Ozkilic early and he consistently beat Lineker to the punch with crafty counters.
Lineker responded by wading forward, throwing bombs every chance he got while targeting the body. The pressure started to have a visible effect on Ozkilic midway through the second round and continued to eat him up in the third.
Early in the final round, Lineker waved to the crowd like a mad man and continued to pursue Ozkilic around the cage. He landed a solid knee up the middle after putting Ozkilic's back to the fence.
Afterward, Ozkilic admitted he felt he was on his way toward a decision win.
"I felt like I was going to get the decision," Ozkilic said. "I was not out, but he stopped the fight. I was blocking a lot of his punches and we were boxing. I was never really hurt. It happens."
Lineker is now 5-2 in the UFC with four knockout wins. He suffered a unanimous decision loss to Ali Bagautinov in February. ESPN.com ranked Lineker the No. 6 flyweight in the world headed into the bout.
Martins ruffling feathers at 145
Four fights into his UFC career, Lucas Martins has already competed in three different weight classes. He might have just found a permanent home at featherweight.
Martins (15-1) scored a knockout victory, his second in the UFC, with a third-round finish over Alex White in a 145-pound contest. Referee Gasper Oliver called a stop to the bout at 2:08 of the final round.
"He was a very tough fighter and it was a hard fight for me," Martins said. "I wanted to stand up and I was able to use my standup to win the fight.
"I have heavy hands and a long reach. I knew [that] once I was able to start hitting him, it was a matter of time before I won the fight."
After competing in the Octagon at 155 and 135 pounds, Martins was crisp in his new weight class. He dominated White (10-1) in the opening round with counters and right body kicks and then finished him with a vicious right cross in the third.
Fighting out of Fredericktown, Missouri, White showcased his durability in the fight, as he seemed intent on moving forward despite repeatedly walking into Martins' counter punches. White did not attempt a single takedown, electing to stand and trade.
The Brazilian extends his current win streak to three and improves his UFC record to 3-1. Saturday marked Martins' first fight in the U.S.