Alex Morono says TKO over Donald Cerrone validates status at welterweight

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LAS VEGAS – Alex Morono proved a lot to himself Saturday night.

The welterweight picked up the biggest win of his career when he stopped former title challenger Donald Cerrone in their co-main event showdown at UFC on ESPN 24 in Las Vegas. Morono (19-7 MMA, 8-4 UFC) put away Cerrone (36-16 MMA, 24-13 UFC) on the feet at the 4:40 mark of the first round.

It was a big stage and big name for Morono, who took the fight on short notice, replacing Diego Sanchez. He made the most of it. The 30-year-old thinks the win over “Cowboy” reaffirms his status at 170 pounds.

“Not that I put these veterans on the pedestal, but are they that good compared to everyone else?” Morono told reporters at the UFC on ESPN 24 post-fight news conference. “And the answer is not no, is that I’m there, as well.

“I didn’t have any confidence and didn’t believe it. I was just a fight fan that trained a bunch and knows the fight game well. Going into this fight, after watching the fights before (on the card), I was like, ‘I’m going to stand and trade until somebody goes down. I’m going to get into a gun fight.’ And not for anyone else, but for myself. I’m down to fire-fight safely and defensively. I wasn’t afraid to get clipped to achieve my goal of landing these big punches.”

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Morono admitted he’s a fan of Cerrone and fighting him was a rewarding experience. He knows the 38-year-old veteran is toward the end of his career and hopes he gets a proper send off.

“After the fight, after I got the finish, after kill more was turned off, seeing ‘Cowboy’ there was cool – and sad is not the right word,” Morono said. ‘It’s not. There’s a lot of respect that goes into it. I do hope that he goes to 155 like he wanted to and they give him a good fight. Give him (Joe) Lauzon or (Jim) Miller – still game dudes, but like a fun veteran fight. If anyone deserves to call any shots in the UFC, it’s ‘Cowboy.’ He made me such a fan forever.”

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Twitter reacts to Donald Cerrone's standing TKO loss to Alex Morono at UFC on ESPN 24