Although it wasn't the main event, UFC 203's most hyped match was the encounter between former WWE Champion, CM Punk and hot young MMA prospect, Mickey Gall.
Marching to the Octagon to the sound of his WWE entrance theme, "The Cult of Personality", Punk looked every bit the superstar he had been for the pro-wrestling juggernaut. However, once the buzzer sounded, it was a different story.
Punk was one month removed from his 38th birthday and Gall was 14 years his junior and was hungry to make a name for himself in the sport he had dedicated himself to since he was 13 years old.
It showed. Punk demonstrated his inexperience by immediately launching himself at Gall with a wild right hand which Gall ducked. Gall then floored Punk with a double leg takedown and smashed him repeatedly with unanswered punches. Gall kept smashing Punk with shots before choosing to manoeuvre him into side mount where he locked in the match-winning choke. Probably the most one-sided fight you are ever likely to see and should have spelt the end of Punk's UFC career. It didn't, Punk received one more crack which ended in similarly humiliating fashion at UFC 225 in June 2018.
In a Heavyweight encounter, with title implications, Brazilian Fabricio Werdum took on the future husband of Ronda Rousey, Travis Browne. This bout was something. Werdum dominated Browne who seemed to be in terminal decline as a top-level fighter throughout the three-round duration of the contest which yielded a deafening rebellion from the live crowd who were largely dissatisfied with a fight which promised much but delivered little in the way of engaging action. The post-fight made up for it though as Werdum upset the audience with a mocking crying gesture which led to Brown's coach Edmond Tarverdyan going crazy at him. Werdum quickly shut him up with a huge front kick sparking a wild pull-apart brawl. For those who believed UFC 229 was the first time we had seen such a scene in UFC, they would be wrong. Lost in the fracas was that your winner by Unanimous Decision was Werdum.
The Strawweights were in action as Jessica Andrade in her second fight at 115Ibs took on Joanne Calderwood. Andrade quickly put Calderwood down and used her greater power to cinch in a guillotine choke for the win. For, Andrade, it was proof her decision to move to Strawweight was the correct one, while for Calderwood, it was back to square one to try and pull together a win streak to put her in title contention.
Jimmie Rivera upset the odds to defeat Urijah Faber in the biggest win of his career. He was the busier of the two fighters throughout the three-round contest and won every round en route to victory. Rivera gave himself the opportunity for a successful career in UFC while Faber's neared its conclusion; he would retire three months later after victory over Brad Pickett in December 2016.
The main event saw the Heavyweight Championship on the line with Stipe Miocic defending versus Alistair Overeem. This title encounter seemed like a long time coming for veteran Overeem and he was agile early on, dodging Miocic's strikes well. Overeem then picked his spot to land a huge left hand which put the champion on spaghetti legs. Overeem elected to attempt to force a submission rather than attempt a knockout win but Miocic managed to escape.
Back to his feet, Miocic was still feeling the effects of that left hand but managed to dodge another shot and plant Overeem with a big right hand that rocked the challenger. Miocic swarmed over Overeem with a stunning combination and after a brief scuffle took him down and rained down with punches to put Overeem out. Still the Heavyweight Champion of the world: Stipe Miocic. What a fight. What an event!