Since its official announcement, the Nate Diaz-Donald Cerrone lightweight fight at UFC 141 titillated MMA fans. Dreams of wild striking and non-stop aggression, of extreme trash-talking and fight of night bonus checks.
So, did the co-main event come close to matching the hype on Friday night, especially after the cowboy hat flip incident from Thursday's weigh-ins?
Yes. Indeed. Right from the start, and with every one of the 15 minutes in the fight.
"Touch gloves if you want . . . or not," referee Herb Dean said during the pre-fight instructions inside the cage. Cerrone flipped Diaz the bird instead. It was possibly his best offense of the night.
Diaz used his superior boxing skills to dismantle Cerrone and win by unanimous decision. The judges scored the bout, 30-27, 30-27, 29-28.
Diaz (15-7), a precision striker with his hands, picked apart Cerrone with his boxing in the first round, mixing right jabs with straight lefts while landing several combinations.
The tone was set.
Cerrone experienced some success in the second round with leg kicks that continually tripped up Diaz. But Diaz continued his solid striking.
To open the third round, it was Diaz throwing a pair of birds in the air aimed at Cerrone. The punches weren't far behind. The Season 5 winner of "The Ultimate Fighter" continued his aggressive onslaught of Cerrone (17-4, 1 NC), who had his six-fight win streak halted.