After avoiding Croom’s aggression early, Caceres really started to pour on the punishment with superior striking and grappling before earning a lopsided unanimous decision. The judges scored the fight 30-26, 30-26 and 30-27 with Caceres building his best win streak in the UFC since a five-fight undefeated run between 2012 and 2014.
“We knew he was going to be a tough guy, a wild man out there,” Caceres said about Croom. “We expected that pace for sure.
“Honestly, I think it’s time for a ranked fighter. At the end of the day, I just want to fight.”
It was a fast start for Croom, who came charging out from the corner while trying to overwhelm Caceres from the opening seconds of the first round. Like a matador ducking out of the way of a bull, Caceres did well to avoid the wild offense coming from Croom and he even managed a slick reversal in a grappling exchange land some stiff ground and pound.
The constant pressure from Croom finally led to a well-timed takedown in the second round but then Caceres caught him in a triangle choke that looked very tight. Despite the strong position, Caceres eventually abandoned the submission, which allowed Croom to stay stuck to him like glue both on the ground and from the clinch.
With time ticking away into the final round, Croom was still bullying his way forward but he wasn’t setting anything up, which then allowed Caceres to crack him with several counter shots. The best punches happened with Croom coming after him and Caceres just stepping back to pop him with short hooks from the inside.
Croom was wobbled on at least two different occasions and that left him desperate to drag Caceres down to the canvas again. When the takedown didn’t come, Caceres once again took advantage of the opening to use his own grappling game against Croom, which nearly led to a rear-naked choke submission but instead the featherweights fought until the final horn.
Caceres has always been considered a fun and exciting fighter to watch but now he’s beginning to build the kind of momentum that could help him draw a top 15 ranked opponent for his next bout.