Miocic wins heavyweight belt by 1st-round KO over Werdum

Published on Tuesday, 5/17/16, at 10:53 a.m. Eastern.

Stipe Miocic is the new heavyweight champion after knocking out Fabricio Werdum in the first round of Saturday’s UFC 198 headliner in Curitiba, Brazil. Miocic beat the 38-year-old Brazilian as a +160 underdog in front of a raucous crowd of 45,207.

Gamblers backing the Ohio native of Croatian descent to win in Round 1 cashed a lucrative +650 ticket (risk $100 to win $650). The prop wager for Miocic to win by KO/TKO paid a +260 return, while he was +256 to win inside the distance. Bettors taking the ‘under’ (2.5 rounds) won a +110 return.

Miocic was backpedaling as Werdum charged him when he threw the right that knocked Werdum out cold. He will be riding a three-fight winning streak into his first title defense.

The UFC has never been to Cleveland, but you would have to think its debut is on the horizon and could be for Miocic’s initial title defense. Other UFC fighters from the Cleveland area who could be on the card include eighth-ranked welterweight contender Matt Brown and UFC women’s bantamweight contender Jessica Eye.

Alistair Overeem will almost certainly be Miocic’s next opponent.

In the co-main event, Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza destroyed Vitor Belfort by first-round KO late in the opening round. Souza finished off Belfort in ground-and-pound fashion as a -280 ‘chalk.’

Souza improved to 6-1 in the UFC with the lone blemish on his resume coming in a split-decision loss to Yoel Romero that many felt Souza should’ve won. Then Romero tested positive for a banned substance. Without question, Jacare should get the winner of Chris Weidman and Luke Rockhold’s rematch for the middleweight strap at UFC 199 in Los Angeles at The Fabulous Forum.

The ‘under’ (1.5 rounds) was a winner at a -150 price in Jacare’s win over Belfort.

Cris Cyborg finally made her Octagon debut by facing Leslie Smith at a catchweight of 140 pounds. Cyborg easily tipped the scales at 139 for the weigh-ins. She then laid waste to Smith less than 90 seconds into the fight, though many felt it was an early stoppage. I don’t know that it would’ve changed the result, however.

Cyborg was the biggest ‘chalk’ on the card. The only reasonable wager without risking too much of a price was Cyborg to win in Round 1 for a -200 cost.

Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua got back into the win column with a split-decision win over Corey Anderson. Anderson seemingly controlled most of the bout, but he was floored late in Round 1 and nearly finished before being saved by the bell. Therefore, you could understand if that stole him the opening round.

Then again in Round 2, Rua hurt Anderson again with punches late in the stanza. Rua has been a huge underdog in the +200 range in the weeks leading into the fight, but there was a lot of steam on Rua on Friday and Saturday. He cashed tickets in +130 range.

In the lid-lifter of the main card, Bryan Barberena produced a second straight upset victory. Barberena, who is 3-1 in the UFC, submitted Sage Northcutt in late January as a +220 underdog. Facing previously-unbeaten Warley Alves this past Saturday night, the 27-year-old Barbena won a UD as a +450 underdog.

Demian Maia defeated Matt Brown by rear-naked choke in the prelims headliner as a -340 ‘chalk.’ Brown flipped off the Brazilian fans that boo’d him at the weigh-ins, making for a rough walk to the Octagon.

Brown was hit in the back of the head by two different fans who were ejected from the arena. A third fan reached out and pulled at his hoodie, prompting Brown to return fire.

Maia was able to get a takedown on Brown early in the opening round. As he’s prone to do, he took his opponents’ back and tried to work several submissions. But Brown did a great job of defending. The second round was the same story. Brown defended well and seemed to do a good job of conserving his energy, and he went into the third round knowing he had to get a finish.

He almost did just that. Brown sprawled out of a several takedown attempts from Maia, and then floored the Brazilian with a big left hook. Brown jumped into his guard and gave out some ground-and-pound shots and briefly took mount.

However, Maia slithered out and eventually took control on the ground again. He finished the submission with 29 seconds remaining in the bout.

Then on Sunday while checking out his hotel, Brown’s former coach Rodrigo Botti sucker punched him in the lobby and then ran. One of Brown’s friends tracked down Botti and put a beatdown on him. Botti was arrested when law enforcement arrived.

Maia has won five in a row and is very much in the mix for a title shot in the 170-pound loop. Brown has lost three of his last four fights, but there’s no shame in losing to Robbie Lawler, Johny Hendricks or Maia.

John Lineker cruised to a unanimous-decision win over Rob Font as a -135 favorite in the opener of the prelims on Fox Sports 1. Lineker won the decision with scores of 30-27, 29-28 and 30-26 from the judges.

The 26-year-old Brazilian has now won 21 of his last 23 fights dating back to 2010. Lineker owns an 8-2 UFC record and has won four fights in a row.

In the FightPass headliner early in the card, Little Nog earned a KO victory over Patrick Cummins late in the first round. He hooked up his backers as a +200 underdog and dodged retirement plans in the process.

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