Donald Cerrone’s eight-fight win streak may be bookended by a pair of losses to current lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos, but let’s not forget about the star power and stopping power of “Cowboy.”
Cerrone leaves behind a legacy at 155 pounds as one of the most game and entertaining fighters of the past decade. Now he moves up to 170 to start a new journey, and another “Cowboy” is making the move up with him to fight for the name that’s made them both famous.
Alex Oliveira has won three in a row and two of those wins have come by finish. He’s quickly becoming an exciting must-see fighter, and he is excited to challenge Cerrone, who he calls the fake cowboy.
Both fighters have power in their hands and feet, and this intriguing five-round main event is just one of the reasons to watch Fight Night Pittsburgh live and free on FS1 on a special Sunday fight card beginning at 9 p.m./6 p.m. ET/PT on Feb. 21.
There are a number of fighters on this card with a lot to gain with a win in Pittsburgh, but maybe none more than No. 13-ranked middleweight Derek Brunson.
Riding a three-fight win streak that has catapulted him into the Top 15, Brunson takes on No. 15-ranked Roan Carneiro, who is looking to continue his climb in a very tough 185-pound division.
The expected next title fight is a rematch between Luke Rockhold and Chris Weidman. A quick look at the top of the division also finds “Jacare” Souza, who is coming off a loss, former title contenders Lyoto Machida and Vitor Belfort, as well as Tim Kennedy, who hasn’t fought since September 2014.
Another impressive win and/or finish for Brunson may lead him into the Top 10 and a title picture that is still taking shape for 2016.
In the 135-pound division, former top flyweight contender John Lineker makes his second appearance at bantamweight to take on Team Alpha Male super prospect Cody Garbrandt.
Lineker has power rarely seen in the lighter weight classes. He submitted a tough Francisco Rivera in his debut after showcasing his striking and beating Rivera up on the feet. He now rides a three-fight win streak and a win over Garbrandt would further his case for a future title shot.
All Garbrandt has done since coming to the UFC is win. He’s 2-0 with one KO and brings a combination of high-level wrestling and striking with him into the Octagon. This one is surely going to deliver fireworks in the Steel City.
The main event of the FS1 prelims pits two blue chip prospects against each other: Alex Garcia vs. Sean Strickland.
Both fighters have six combined UFC wins between them, but both have recently suffered setbacks with a pair of decision losses.
This is an opportunity for Garcia and Strickland to impress on the big TV stage and they both have well-rounded arsenals.
UFC FIGHT PASS prelims
Forgive Marion Reneau for her lone UFC defeat – it came against current bantamweight champion Holly Holm, who has never lost an MMA bout and just defeated previously unbeatable Ronda Rousey.
Ranked No. 12 at 135 pounds, Reneau holds wins against Jessica Andrade and Alexis Dufresne and is one of the most well-rounded fighters in the division. Against Holm, she lasted all three rounds and went blow-for-blow with the former boxing standout before losing the decision.
Reneau takes on Ashlee Evans-Smith, who is coming off a loss in her UFC debut against division veteran Raquel Pennington. If this should turn into a grappling contest, both women are proficient if the fight goes to the ground.
Matt Parrino is a digital producer and writer for UFC.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MattParrinoUFC