UFC Charlotte had a definitive ending, with Jacare Souza knocking out Derek Brunson in the first round with a nicely placed head kick.
Jacare Souza was on the brink of a title shot before running into current champion Robert Whittaker in April of last year. Souza is 7-2 in the UFC and has not fought since the Whittaker bout. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu expert has won four of his seven Octagon victories via submission, but also has a pair of striking stoppages under his belt. Souza defeated Brunson six years ago in Strikeforce via first-round knockout.
Derek Brunson had a scary rise to the top of the division after losing to Yoel Romero in his third UFC appearance. Brunson won five in a row with the last four being first-round knockouts. Since then, he is 2-2 and on a two-fight winning streak.
The UFC Charlotte main event started tentatively, with Jacare Souza throwing the first strike after a minute had passed. Brunson landed a leg kick of his own, then Souza missed with a head kick. Brunson landed a kick to the body, then threw a series of punches that was blocked by Souza.
Souza landed a counter right hand, then avoided a head kick from Brunson. A right straight landed down the middle for Jacare, then Brunson charged forward with a combination. Souza timed a takedown but Brunson athletically stayed off his back. Brunson rushed forward again with bunches of punches and Souza landed a solid counter right hand.
The fighters reset, then Souza threw up a head kick that rocked Brunson. Souza pushed forward and landed an overhand right that hunched Brunson over. A few left hands brought Brunson to his knees and the ref had seen enough. The first-round stoppage for Souza brings one of the best middleweights around back into the title picture.
Jacare Souza def. Derek Brunson by TKO (Head Kick and Punches) in Round 1 (3:50)