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UFC on Fox prelims: ‘Bruce Leroy’ finds a home at bantamweight, Rosa and Pierce win too

Steve Cofield
Cagewriter

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ANAHEIM -Alex "Bruce Leroy" Cacares carries a huge persona, but not big enough to overcome the lack of size he battled at lightweight during Season 12 of "The Ultimate Fighter.'

Now that he's dropped all the way down to 135 pounds, it looks like he might be a real prospect.

Cacares' athleticism was impressive during what mostly a battle on the feet. He had Cole Escovedo confused throughout and rolled to a unanimous decision, 30-27 on all three scorecards. It was his first win in the UFC.

"I feel great and I don't think it has all registered yet. This was my third fight under the UFC banner and considering that I lost my first two I knew that tonight it was do or die," said the 23-year-old Cacares (6-4, 1-2 UFC). "After my last loss I felt it was my conditioning that cost me the win. House, the cut-man, told me I needed to work on my endurance and he gave me a list with some different sprints to do. I think those definitely helped me get the victory tonight.  It's my dream to fight in the UFC and I want to make sure it lasts as long as possible."

Escovedo, 29, has a lot of experience around the world. He was once a WEC champ, but he had trouble tracking down Cacares. Cacares did a nice job with his offensive game mixing in a variety of kicks with some good two and three punch combinations.{ysp:more}

Escovedo was surprised by the one-sided decision and said he had some troubles with his weight cut that left him lacking explosiveness.

"Nothing that Alex hit me with hurt me in the fight. He didn't have any power on his punches and we knew that coming into the fight. I accidentally cut to 134 yesterday and I think that hurt my stamina in the fight and cost me the win. I'm extremely disappointed with my performance," said Escovedo.

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Pierce edges Bradley using crisp left hand

Mike Pierce and Paul Bradley are carbon copies. Both fighters have a good wrestling background and developing striking. Pierce was a little better with his hands tonight and got slight nod on the scorecards in a split decision victory, 30-27, 29-28 and 28-29.

Much of the fight was spent battling in the clinch for head control and firing off inside punches. Pierce did more damage. Anytime the fighters broke, Pierce (13-4, 5-2 UFC) did a solid job of landing his left hook. Bradley's eyes were pretty busted up by the end of the fight.

This was win No. 5 in the UFC for Pierce. He was on a great run and moving up the rankings until he met another good wrestler in Johny Hendricks during the summer. He lost that fight via unanimous decision. This gets him back on track.

Bradley (18-4, 0-2 UFC) is a tough opponent, he just hasn't been able to turn the corner in big fights. He's lost to Pierce and Rafael Natal in the UFC and back in 2009, he lost to eventual Strikeforce middleweight champ Luke Rockhold at 185 pounds.

This was actually a rematch of a 2009 fight outside the organization. Pierce won that night by unanimous decision.

Rosa wins battle of the clinch to get first UFC win

Aaron Rosa made the wise move of getting back to his natural class down at light heavyweight. His stamina was much better and when he needed to close strong late against UFC newcomer Matt Lucas, he got the job done.

A fresher Rosa landed some heavy shots inside during a fight that featured 80 percent clinch work along the cage. The veteran got his first UFC win via majority decision, 30-26, 30-26 and 28-28, in fight No. 1 of the UFC on Fox card in the Honda Center.

Rosa (17-4, 1-1 UFC) lost his promotional debut back in June at UFC 131. Heavyweight Joey Beltran beat him up that night as Rosa entered the cage in excess of 260 pounds.

Tonight, he was a trim 205 and it made a big difference. Lucas landed four takedowns, but Rosa was able to get to his feet quickly in all four cases. Lucas (14-3) worked the takedown for most of the 15 minutes and it tired him badly. He spit out his mouthpiece on three occasions. Referee John McCarthy took a point away from Lucas in the second.

"I was very happy to go out there and get the win in such a big show. When the people started cheering it made all the work worthwhile," Rosa said. "My hands are feeling a little roughed up but I'm very excited to get back in the Octagon as soon as possible."

It's not surprising at all to hear Rosa's hands were hurt. He landed a lot of heavy shots in close quarters. He really beat up Lucas with elbows to the head, side and back during the clinches.

"I was way too reluctant and I couldn't seem to find my rhythm or put my strikes together the way that I planned to. I was stalling, I think being under the lights for the first time in an event like this had something to do with it.  Hopefully I'll be back to show the fans what I can do," said Lucas.

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