DALLAS • Defending Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic went deuces wild on Saturday in Dallas, earning a measure of revenge against former champion Junior dos Santos by slamming a jarring punch into the Brazilian's left ear.
The power behind the strike collapsed dos Santos along the octagon fencing. He turtled up on the canvas and absorbed several more shots until referee Herb Dean jumped in to stop the fight at the 2min 22sec mark of the opening round.
The victory marked Miocic's second title defence since capturing the belt against Fabricio Werdum last year, tying the record for consecutive victories by a defending champion in the UFC since the title was established in 1997.
"He's looking like the man," said UFC president Dana White. "Cleveland's killing it right now. He's obviously not the same fighter who fought JDS the first time.
"Super athletic. He stays in the pocket and punches with big guys. Lightning fast. He's a complete fighter and a really good athlete."
If heavyweight parity has become the story of the division over the years, Miocic is seeking to change that at a time when the UFC class seems ripe for dominating.
"I am the best in the world," proclaimed Miocic following his 14th stoppage in 17 career wins.
Miocic's quick finish in front of 17,834 fans at the American Airlines Centre punctuated the point of his improvement since losing a unanimous decision to dos Santos in 2014. "I'm sad, of course," said the Brazilian. "But if I'm not the champion I'm glad this guy is the champion. He's the real deal. He's on the way to being the best ever."
Two years ago at UFC 185 in Dallas, Poland's Joanna Jedrzejczyk dominated Carla Esparza to capture the strawweight title, and she has not come close to losing it since.
That held true on Saturday as she retained the belt for the fifth time in high style, cruising past Brazil's Jessica Andrade in an unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 50-44).
"I said I would defend this title and no one would take this," said the 29-year-old technician. "Here we go. We making history.
"There's only strawweight champion. Joanna Jedrzejczyk from Poland. That's me. No one is taking this belt away from me. Nobody."