Stipe Miocic climbed to the top of the octagon and threw his legs over its sides, straddling the cage like he was riding a horse.
He had defended his title in stunning fashion, and Cleveland's hometown hero has no plans to give it up.
"I'm going to stay champ for a long time," he said.
Floored by an early punch, Miocic recovered and knocked out Alistair Overeem at 4:27 of the first round to conclude UFC 203 on Saturday night in front of nearly 20,000 delirious fans.
— NewsChannel 5 (@WEWS) September 11, 2016
Miocic, whose title in May set off a run of championships in a city that didn't celebrate one for 52 years, was in big trouble after Overeem caught him on the jaw with a short left. Overeem pounced on Miocic, a Cleveland area fire fighter, and put him in a guillotine hold as he tried to choke him out. But the 6-foot-4, 240-pound Miocic, urged by the crowd chanting "Stee-pay, Stee-pay," escaped the hold and quickly pressed the action.
In the final minute of the round, Miocic stunned Overeem with a punch and then held him down and delivered four devastating right-handed punches to the challenger's head to finish him off.
"When I got on top of him, game over," Miocic said.
When the fight was stopped, Miocic ran and climbed the cage, a move he had planned for months. Soon after, he took the microphone and yelled "O-H" to the crowd, which responded "I-O," to the local champ, whose knock out of Fabricio Werdum this spring was followed by the Cavaliers overcoming a 3-1 deficit to beat Golden State in the NBA Finals.
"I'm going to remember this for the rest of my life," Miocic said.
Overeem almost ruined things for Miocic when he knocked him on his butt and attempted to end the fight. But Miocic wasn't going to be denied and was offended when he learned that Overeem had thought he tapped out.
"I don't remember tapping out," Miocic said. "I remember punching him in the face until he was unconscious."
— NewsChannel 5 (@WEWS) September 11, 2016
Before Miocic's stunning comeback, former WWE superstar CM Punk could have used a folding chair or a tag-team partner.
Out of pro wrestling's scripted ring, his first visit into the octagon didn't last long.
Punk, who was one of WWE's biggest stars when he left it two years ago to try his hand in ultimate fighting, tapped out just 2:14 into the first round after he was pummeled and choked by welterweight Mickey Gall.
The 38-year-old Punk charged Gall but was on his back less than 10 seconds into the fight. Pinned up against the fencing, he was unable to get out from under Gall, who smashed a right hand into Punk's temple and then kneeled on top of him and swung both arms like a pendulum, connecting with one hard shot after another.
Punk nearly got free, but Gall regained a dominant position and squeezed his opponent's head like he wanted to snap it off. Punk had no choice but to tap his hand on the mat, ending the fight the way many inside UFC predicted.
"Yeah you know in life you go big or you go home," Punk said afterward. "I just like to take challenges. It was a hell of a climb, I didn't get to the summit tonight but it doesn't mean I'm going to give up it doesn't mean I'm going anywhere, it doesn't mean I'm going to stop."
The 24-year-old Gall never doubted he would crush Punk.
"I know my kill stuff would be more than his kill stuff," he said. "I knew what to expect and I was ready to dominate."
Prior to Miocic's bout, former heavyweight champ Fabricio Werdum won a unanimous decision over Travis Browne.
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Following the heated bout, Werdum put his gloved hands to his face and was pretending to wipe away tears when he was confronted by Browne's coach Edmond Tarverdyan. Werdum tried to kick Tarverdyan and security rushed into the ring as both corners jawed at each other.
Just climbing the steps into the octagon was something of a victory for Punk, who became a villain of sorts inside UFC circles as fans, wrestlers and fellow fighters questioned his motives for taking up a new sport with no experience.
He was accustomed to the outside distractions — media requests, fans and travel — for years. But despite working with Duke Roufus and other top trainers at the Roufusport Martial Arts Academy in Milwaukee for the past year, he wasn't ready for Gall.
Still, Punk intends to stick with his new love.
"Obviously, Mickey's a hell of a fighter. I will be back, believe it or not," Punk said. "This was the most fun I've had in my life, second best night of my life after marrying my wife. I know there's a lot of doubters but listen, life's about falling down and getting back up. Doesn't matter how many time you get knocked down, get back up."
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