DENVER -- Saturday's UFC Fight Night was meant to be a celebration of how far the sport has come in the past 25 years. And the main event lived up to its billing.
In perhaps one of the most spectacular knockouts in UFC history, featherweight Yair Rodriguez (11-2) devastated Chan Sung Jung (14-5) with a no-look, counter, upwards elbow to the chin as Jung moved forward in his final offensive surge of the bout.
The knockout came with just one second left in the bout. Rodriguez was behind on the scorecards 39-37, 39-37 and 38-38 going into the fifth round, meaning he needed a finish to get the win.
"Like s---," said Rodriquez, when asked how he felt after the back-and-forth contest. "I feel great. I want to say thank you to all my family and friends.
"The first round, a kick into the knee [I injured my foot]. I'm just thinking whatever [UFC matchmaker] Sean Shelby and Dana White [want next]. Whatever they want to give me. I don't care. It's what I said before the fight, the only thing I care about is being happy every moment I have."
Just seconds before the finish, both Rodriguez and Jung stopped to put their hands into the air, acknowledging the entertaining fight they'd had. That shared moment between the two made the knockout all the more stunning, as Jung decided to press forward in one last flurry.
Jung, of South Korea, absorbed a ton of damage over the course of the fight, including a spinning elbow in the second round that bloodied his nose. His pressure was a major factor on the scorecards, however, as he consistently pressed forward behind his jab and right cross. Jung had 126 significant strikes compared to 119 from Rodriguez, according to FightMetric.
The 145-pound bout played out like a kickboxing match. Neither fighter was credited with a single takedown, and neither made a concerted effort to get one. It was Rodriquez's flashy counter striking and kickboxing, against Jung's boxing and clinch work on the inside.
It is only the third time Jung has been knocked out in his career. For Rodriguez, it is a major bounce back from a lopsided TKO loss to Frankie Edgar 18 months ago.
Cowboy Cerrone delivers another thriller in Colorado, breaks UFC record for most wins
Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone has enjoyed some of the best moments of his illustrious career in his former home state of Colorado. He added another memory to that list Saturday.
Cerrone (34-11) submitted Mike Perry (12-4) via armbar at 4:46 of the first round of their welterweight contest, becoming the most winningest fighter in UFC history. Cerrone went into the bout in a three-way tie with Georges St-Pierre and Michael Bisping for the record (20).
Perry, of Orlando, Florida, tried to break out of the armbar by lifting Cerrone clean off the ground and slamming him on his shoulder. Cerrone's underrated jiu-jitsu hung on, however. He now has 17 wins by submission in his career.
"Let's talk about going back to 155 [pounds]," said Cerrone, immediately after the bout. "That's what we need to talk about. I don't care who. I just want to know when. Khabib [Nurmagomedov], I'm coming. Cowboy's back, baby."
The majority of Cerrone's career has been contested at lightweight, but he has fought at the 170-pound welterweight limit since 2016. He has said he wanted to go back down at age 35, to make one more run at the UFC title. He came up short in his only bid for a title against Rafael dos Anjos in 2015.
A father as of this summer, Cerrone brought his newborn son into the Octagon with him. Earlier in the week, he said the best moment of his career occurred in Denver, against Melvin Guillard in 2012. It's very possible Saturday will overtake the top spot.
Perry fell to 5-4 in the UFC. It was actually Perry who initiated the grappling in the first round, as he elected to take Cerrone down midway through. It proved to be a costly mistake.
Undefeated prospect Barber finishes Cifers, calls for Dern
Undefeated, 20-year-old strawweight Maycee Barber (6-0) has made it clear she intends to waste no time on her way to a UFC championship -- and the results of her UFC debut backed up that mindset.
Barber defeated Hannah Cifers (8-3) via TKO at 2:01 of the second round, in her first appearance inside the Octagon. The finish came after Barber cut Cifers with a standing elbow, and relentlessly beat her with more elbows and punches on the ground.
Barber, of Fort Collins, Colorado, wants to break former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones' record of youngest champion in UFC history. She has three more years to accomplish it, and is off to a fast start.
"I feel awesome. I came here to do what I need to do," Barber said. "I try to finish every single fight. I'm not here to fight to not lost, I'm here to win. If you want to see a champion, just follow my career."
Immediately following the win, Barber called out fellow 115-pound prospect Mackenzie Dern (7-0). Dern is a standout submission specialist, with a 2-0 UFC record.
Former champ de Randamie wins in first appearance since claiming UFC title
It was de Randamie's first bout since she won the UFC's inaugural 145-pound title in February 2017, and eventually relinquished it because of an unwillingness to fight Cris "Cyborg" Justino. This fight was at a 138-pound catchweight, as Pennington came in heavy for the contracted bantamweight limit at Friday's weigh-in.
De Randamie, 34, looked crisp on her feet despite the time off. She bloodied Pennington's nose with punches in the second round, and denied multiple attempts from Pennington to get it to the floor.
According to Fightmetric, de Randamie outlanded Pennington in total strikes 91-52.
Pennington, of Colorado Springs, scored with leg kicks sporadically in the contest, but that was about it. She held de Randamie in the clinch for long stretches in the first and third rounds but struggled to work takedowns or effective knees. It was Pennington's first loss since a TKO loss to Amanda Nunes for the title in May.