Read on for UFC 192 main event results
If anyone wondered whether the UFC light heavyweight title held by Daniel Cormier was a legitimate one in the absence of former champion Jon Jones, those doubts were silenced Saturday night at Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, as Cormier won a five-round war against number two-ranked contender Alexander Gustafsson, taking a split decision victory that left both men spent.
“Thank you Alexander Gustafsson,” Cormier said. “You made me a better man and fighter tonight. I will forever be indebted to you.”
“He’s the real champ, a legit champ,” Gustafsson, who took Jones to the brink before losing their 2013 title fight, said.
More from UFC 192: Post-fight bonus recap | Full results | Fight statistics | Fight Night Blog | Cormier outlasts Gustafsson to win by split decision | Bader wins by unanimous decision in co-main |Pena, Benavidez and Magomedov go distance in wins |KO’s, subs and more in UFC 192 prelims | Northcutt impressive in debut | Lewis, S. Pettis win early| Watch: Rose Namajunas talks to Megan Olivi backstage
Scores were 49-46, 48-47 and 47-48 for Cormier, who made the first successful defense of the vacant title he won against Anthony Johnson in May.
Gustafsson started the match trying to use every inch of the Octagon real estate as he used kicks and jabs to keep Cormier at bay. It didn’t take the champion long to get close though, and less than a minute in, he slammed the Swede to the mat. Gustafsson was cool under the increasing pressure of Cormier, but “DC” landed several hard body punches as he kept his foe grounded. With a little over a minute left, Gustafsson found daylight and got to his feet, proceeding as if the previous three minutes didn’t happen.
Letting his hands go in round two, the 28-year-old Gustafsson (16-4) bloodied Cormier and gave him something to think about. “The Mauler” even scored a brief takedown, drawing a roar from the crowd. As the round hit the three-minute mark, Cormier finally got back into the swing of things, scoring with several uppercuts at close range, but Gustafsson took them well and got back to business, doing whatever it takes to stay at range. As Cormier got close though, it was another takedown for Gustafsson, sealing the round.
Cormier kept stalking in round three, and while he took a hard uppercut, his return fire bloodied Gustafsson’s nose and put him on the run. More close range uppercuts followed from Cormier before the challenger got his jab working for him, but as the champion pressed, it looked like he was starting to break his opponent down. Gustafsson wasn’t done yet though, as a flush right knee produced a knockdown and a near finish in the closing seconds of the frame.
Rejuvenated by his strong third-round finish, Gustafsson came out for the fourth with a couple hard kicks that slowed Cormier’s forward movement. San Jose’s Cormier resumed his chase seconds later, but his defense was springing leaks, allowing the Swede to counter. The question was if the judges were scoring Cormier’s aggression, which was ineffective for much of the round.
Both fighters showed the scars of battle entering the fifth and final round, and Gustafsson drew first blood in the frame with a flush right hand. Cormier answered with two rights of his own a few moments later, and the champion didn’t let up with his pressure, outworking his exhausted, but courageous, challenger.
“I wanted to prove that I’m not one dimensional,” the 36-year-old Cormier, now 17-1, said.