It's too early to say for sure, but the UFC's next European star just might be Darren Till, a 24-year-old welterweight out of Liverpool.
Till (16-0) scored the biggest win of his career on Saturday, as he finished fan favorite Donald Cerrone (32-10) via TKO at 4:20 of the opening round. The welterweight bout headlined UFC Fight Night inside Ergo Arena in Gdansk, Poland.
It was a one-sided victory for the English prospect, and he didn't waste his opportunity under the spotlight. He heaped praise on Cerrone and called out the fast-rising Mike Perry, who was sitting cageside.
"It's very simple," Till said. "I believe I'm the best fighter alive. I say it time and time again, and I believe it. Trust me. I believe it.
"I'm a f---ing light heavyweight fighting in the welterweight division. Look how powerful I am. The first round is a feeling-out process, and I caught him. I knew I would catch him. Big respect to 'Cowboy' [Cerrone]. He gave me an opportunity. I was an unknown before this fight. Everyone has to start somewhere. 'Cowboy' gave me that opportunity, and he's amazing for that."
Perry (11-1), who is already scheduled to face Santiago Ponzinibbio in December, jumped up and confronted Till through the fence. He later said on the broadcast, "Be careful what you wish for."
It was a startlingly good performance overall by Till, who improves his UFC record to 4-0-1.
The heavy-handed southpaw walked Cerrone down from start to finish, froze him with feints and head kicks, and walloped him with the straight left hand. Cerrone quickly turned to his wrestling in an attempt to get Till to the floor, but he was unsuccessful. He managed to get him to the ground once, but Till jumped back to his feet immediately.
The finish came off a one-two combination down the pipe that nearly dropped Cerrone. Till followed with a mean lead elbow strike, which forced Cerrone to turn away from him and eventually turtle up near the fence.
It is the 10th knockout win of Till's career. Prior to his MMA career, he competed in professional Muay Thai since age 14. It is the fourth time Cerrone, who fights out of Albuquerque, New Mexico, has been knocked out.
Former title challenger Kowalkiewicz cruises to decision win
All three judges awarded a 30-27 shutout to Kowalkiewicz. The Polish strawweight outlanded Esquibel in total strikes 140 to 55, according to Fightmetric.
Kowalkiewicz, 32, grew stronger as the fight progressed and was pretty much doing whatever she wanted by the end. She set the tempo early, with punches and front kicks on the outside. Her strategy veered sharply toward the clinch in the second round, as she hammered the shorter Esquibel with knees to the midsection and head. She also took Esquibel's back on the heels of a clever outside trip and nearly locked in an armbar.
It was a much-needed win for Kowalkiewicz, of Lodz, Poland. She came up short in a title bid against Joanna Jedrzejczyk last November and followed that with a quick submission loss to Claudia Gadelha in June.
After the win, Kowalkiewicz said she'd agree to a fight against another former title challenger in Jessica Andrade (17-6), who looked spectacular in a win over Gadelha last month.