Steve Cantwell's debut at 185 lbs. wasn't a successful one. New Jersey wrestler Mike Massenzio impressed by showing an improved stand-up game, battering Cantwell from round two on to take an unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 29-28).
The first round was fairly even between the two fighters until the two minute mark when Cantwell landed a heavy right hook that wobbled Massenzio. Cantwell stepped on the gas, aggressively seeking a finish against the New Jersey-born wrestler. Massenzio survived to the end of the round.
Cantwell began where he left off in the second, evading Massenzio's attacks and countering with blows. Halfway through the round however, the tide turned as Massenzio landed a pair of left hands that deterred Cantwell from moving forward. Cantwell's porous defense continued to let Massenzio in, succumbing to a number of left-handed blows that cut up Cantwell's face badly.
Massenzio came out firing in the third, once again landing the left hand over the top at will. Cantwell made it interesting halfway through the round with an attempted armbar attempt, but Massenzio easily escaped back to his feet where he continued his onslaught. A tired and battered Cantwell survived till the final bell, attempting to leg lock Massenzio. Too little, too late for the California native.
Cantwell entered this evening's contest riding a three-fight losing streak. He dropped unanimous decisions to Luiz Cane, Brian Stann, and Cyrille Diabate while in the ranks of the light heavyweight division over the span of two years. He was expected to face Vladimir Matyushenko at UFC 108 in January of last year, but a mysterious, undisclosed medical condition left his career up in the air. Cantwell returned in March against Diabate, but it was clear he was overmatched. Massenzio was Cantwell's first bout at middleweight.
Massenzio has had a troubling career in the UFC. He's amassed a 1-3 record in 4 appearances, defeating Drew McFedries at UFC Fight Night 15 while losing to C.B. Dolloway, Brian Stann, and Krzysztof Soszynski at later events. The former IFL fighter and Ring of Combat veteran, like Cantwell, was fighting for his job tonight.