The back-and-forth talk after the fight certainly seemed more professional wrestling than mixed martial arts, but after all the showmanship was done former WWE star Dave Bautista walked away victorious in his MMA debut Saturday night.
The 43-year-old former WrestleMania headliner took out veteran Vince Lucero (22-22-1) with a series of punches in the first round at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, R.I. during the CES 12 event dubbed "Real Pain."
"I think my nerves got the best of me a little bit. He hits like a (expletive) horse," Bautista said of his debut. "He rocked me. I couldn't my legs under me for a while. I was just so nervous. It took me a little while too get my composure."
But when the bodybuilder did, he took control of the portly Lucero, who was a last-minute fill in after two other opponents were scrapped.
However, Lucero came out swinging and landed a series of right hands in the early moments of the fight that pushed Bautista against the fence and had fans momentarily wondering what they were in store for.
Bautista, who had been training in Tampa, Fla. with UFC fighter Stephan Bonnar in preparation for his debut, gained control with a double-leg takedown. He was able to pin Lucero's arms and then slipped in underhooks and wailed away with a series of unanswered punches to Lucero's head before the bout was called at 4:05 in the first.
Apparently a few of the shots landed to the back of the head as Lucero had words with Bautista after the fight and made a hip gyrating gesture towards his opponents who lobbed a few choices words in return. But after the official results were read to the two hugged it out and Bautista said he would soon be ready for a second appearance in the cage.
"I want to fight again for sure," Bautista said. "It was a matter of getting this first one out of the way. I was just so nervous. I had so many butterflies coming out, I think it got the best of me a little bit. I'm better than I showed tonight."
A pair of UFC vets made quick work of their opponents, thanks in part to some vicious cuts Saturday night.
First up it was John "Doomsday" Howard, who it opened up a cut under his opponent, Brett Chism's eye early in the fight. The UFC vet capitalized on the cut in the second, delivering a series of blows to the area to stop the action at the 1:30 mark in the second round.
"People ask me if I want to go back to the UFC, but I'm sure excited by CES," said Howard, who was his fourth straight bout. "It's the next best thing to the UFC. CES puts on a good show, look at this crowd."
Fellow ex-UFC fighter David Loiseau also made quick work of Chris McNally with a handful of damaging elbows in the first round.
"I stop throwing elbows for years. But the people asked for the elbows so I brought the people's elbows back," said Loiseau, making a WWE reference for his signature move that stopped the fight just 2:30 into the first round.
"I had so many people that had my back. It's hard for me to make it out here. I battle inside a lot, … but you know I fought good."