From May 23, 2015
Daniel Cormier, the self-proclaimed "King of the Grind," experienced the power of Anthony Johnson on Saturday night. But even the most jarring blow from "Rumble" wasn't enough to deter Cormier, who submitted Johnson in the third round by rear naked choke to capture the vacant UFC light heavyweight title.
Cormier didn’t expect a title fight so soon after losing to Jon Jones in January, but after Jones was stripped of the title and the two-time Olympian got the chance to compete for the vacant crown at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, he made the most of his second chance.
Cormier’s first act as champion was to call out the former king.
“Jon Jones, get your s**t together,” he said. “I’m waiting for you.”
Jones was suspended indefinitely and stripped of the title he held since 2011 after being involved in a hit and run accident that resulted in a felony charge of leaving the scene of an accident involving personal injury.
The first punch Johnson landed, a looping overhand right, sent Cormier sprawling to the mat. Cormier recovered quickly and was able to lock up with Johnson, eventually putting him on the canvas. Johnson didn’t stay there long, but Cormier was relentless with his pressure, smothering the Georgia native against the fence.
With two minutes remaining, Johnson got free and began unleashing bombs again. Cormier was able to withstand the onslaught, and with a minute left, he bulled Johnson to the fence, a strategy that didn’t please the fans, but that was clearly effective.
Johnson drilled Cormier with a right hand and two ferocious head kicks to open the second round. Cormier’s response was to lift Johnson and slam him in the middle of the Octagon. After a series of ground strikes, Cormier worked for a kimura three times but let each attempt go in order to continue his striking attack on the mat, with few answers coming back from “Rumble,” who was cut by Cormier’s elbows.
A strong start once more by Johnson went for naught when he slipped to the mat early in the third. Johnson was able to get a quick takedown, but Cormier stood up and took control against the fence. With two minutes gone, Cormier took his foe’s back and locked in the rear naked choke, with the tap by the exhausted Johnson coming moments later at the 2:39 mark.
“Tonight, I might have lost, but you should never give up,” a gracious Johnson said. “No matter what happens in life, keep pushing.”
With the win, 36-year-old Cormier improves to 16-1; the 31-year-old Johnson falls to 19-5.
After a wait of over a year for them to finally get in the Octagon, UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman only needed two minutes and 53 seconds to finish off Vitor Belfort in the co-main event of UFC 187 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas Saturday night, making it three straight Brazilian legends to fall at his hands.
“Stop doubting me,” Weidman, who successfully defended his title for the third time, said. “It’s enough.”
Weidman’s win over Belfort comes after consecutive victories over Anderson Silva (twice) and Lyoto Machida.
Some wild scrambles took place in the early going, and Belfort took advantage with a barrage of close range blows that marked up Weidman’s face. But the champion responded with a takedown in the second minute and began getting even. Midway through the round, Weidman got the mount, and from there, the ground and pound attack was too much, with referee Herb Dean stepping in at the 2:53 mark after a series of unanswered blows.
“There’s no excuse,” Belfort said. “He was the better man tonight.”
With the win, the 30-year-old Weidman improves to 13-0; the 38-year-old Belfort, a former UFC light heavyweight champion, falls to 24-11.
Lightweight contender Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone earned his eighth consecutive win, stopping John Makdessi in the second round.
A thudding kick to the leg welcomed Makdessi to the Octagon, and Cerrone kept ‘em coming, occasionally rocking the Canadian, who hung tough, looking for the opening that would allow him to even the score. Late in the round, Makdessi began landing more, but not enough that took Cerrone out of his rhythm.
In the second, Cerrone poured it on, but Makdessi would always come battling back, having a lot of success with his left hand. But late in the round, Cerrone went on the attack with several attacks, with a left kick to the head forcing Makdessi to call it a night after apparently suffering a broken jaw. The official time of the stoppage was 4:44 of the second round.
Cerrone improves to 28-6 with 1 NC; Makdessi, who replaced the injured Khabib Nurmagomedov a little less than a month after defeating Shane Campbell at UFC 186 last month, falls to 13-4.
In a wild war that packed more action into 4:41 than most 25-minute fights, good friends Andrei Arlovski and Travis Browne fought like bitter enemies, with former UFC heavyweight champion Arlovski rising from the canvas to knock Browne out in a classic first round.
“This victory will not affect our friendship,” the number eight-ranked Arlovski said. “I love him like a brother.” The win over the number three-ranked Browne was the 36-year-old Arlovski’s fifth straight, with three of those coming since his UFC return in 2014.
Browne strode confidently toward Arlovski as the bout opened, but a right hand by Arlovski rocked the Hawaiian and sent him retreating to the fence. Arlovski unloaded, and while Browne recovered, a minute later he was put on rubbery legs once more by “The Pit Bull.” A wild miss by Arlovski was followed by a shot that put Browne on the deck, but just when it seemed like “Hapa” was done, he knocked Arlovski down. The Belarus native, who it was revealed later had pulled his calf muscle early in fight week, got back to his feet and unloaded more power shots on Browne, who was left hurt against the fence when referee Mark Smith wisely stepped in at the 4:41 mark.
Arlovski ups his record to 24-10 with 1 NC; Browne falls to 17-3-1.
BENAVIDEZ vs. MORAGA
In a meeting of flyweight contenders, Joseph Benavidez remained on track for another shot at champion Demetrious Johnson, winning an entertaining three-round unanimous decision over John Moraga.
The punches and kicks started flying as soon as the two were waved in to fight, and though Moraga (16-4) looked to have an early edge after a kick to the head, it was Benavidez who landed with punches that put Moraga on the deck. From the top position, Benavidez went to work, looking for a choke as Moraga scrambled and got out of trouble. the New Mexico product got the bout right back to the canvas, but again, the gutsy Moraga got back to his feet, the two battling out against the fence until the Arizonan threw Benavidez to the mat briefly. It was Benavidez scoring with the last takedown of the exciting round though.
Benavidez (22-4) controlled the opening and closing segments of the second stanza, the first with his striking, the last with his ground work, and in the middle, Moraga landed with enough hard kicks that kept Benavidez from pulling away. It was Benavidez’ fight to lose as the third round opened though, yet he didn’t fight like it, keeping the pressure on while standing and on the ground to wrap up the win via identical scores of 30-27 on all cards.
DODSON vs. MAKOVSKY
Returning to action for the first time since June of 2014, flyweight contender John "The Magician" Dodson kept his number one ranking intact Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, scoring a hard-fought three-round unanimous decision win over number nine-ranked Zach Makovsky in UFC 187 prelim action.
Scores were 29-28 across the board for Dodson, 18-6, who had been sidelined by a torn ACL in his left knee; Makovsky falls to 19-6.
The first round was competitive and befitting a match between two top contenders, with Dodson landing several hard blows, but Makovsky taking the shots well and getting his share of offensive attacks in, especially with the left hand.
The back-and-forth action didn’t let it up in the second round, with the judges having a tough task ahead of them in terms of scoring it. Dodson may have pulled the round out late though, as he responded to a Makovsky takedown with a slam of his foe in the closing moments.
Surprisingly, the crowd booed in the third, especially considering the high-level chess match going on, and in the final five minutes, it was hard to separate the two, though some close-range counters and a brief takedown by Dodson appeared to swing the fight in the direction of “The Magician.”
KIM vs. BURKMAN
In his first bout since an August 2014 loss to Tyron Woodley, welterweight contender Dong Hyun Kim scored an impressive third round submission win over gritty veteran Josh Burkman.
The grappling game was on full display in the first round, with Kim holding the advantage as he took Burkman’s back while standing and wouldn’t be deterred from that position for the majority of the frame.
A missed kick early in round two saw Kim (20-3-1, 1 NC) fall to the canvas, and as he rose, Burkman went on the attack, swinging wildly at the Busan product before trying for a takedown. Kim avoided the attempt and regained control against the fence, landing several unanswered shots as the action went to the mat and stayed there for much of the round.
Burkman (28-11, 1 NC) almost struck paydirt early in the third as he landed several hard knees that had Kim reeling, but the “Stun Gun” recovered, got the fight to the mat, and looked to secure an arm triangle choke. After some slick maneuvering, Kim got it, with referee Jason Herzog halting the bout at the 2:13 mark.
NATAL vs. HALL
A bad blood matchup between middleweights Rafael Natal and Uriah Hall may not have resulted in a settled score, but it did end in a victory for Natal, who took a three-round split decision victory.
Scores were 29-28 twice and 28-29 for Natal, now 20-6-1; Hall falls to 11-5.
After a low kick by Natal opened the bout and immediately brought a halt to the action, Hall slowly but surely got into a striking rhythm, nailing his foe with several hard kicks throughout the opening five minutes while avoiding any takedown attempts.
Natal did get the fight to the mat in the second, and while he wasn’t able to do a lot of damage, he was wearing Hall down, and he kept the pressure on when the two stood and grappled against the fence. With under two minutes left, Hall broke free and was able to stay at distance, which served him well in the striking department, and he even brought the fight to the mat himself in the closing seconds.
Hall fought as if he had the fight won in round three, and Natal took advantage of it, playing the aggressor throughout and landing enough haymakers to tilt the judges’ scorecards in his favor.
COVINGTON vs. PYLE
Welterweight up and comer Colby Covington made the most of his late-notice bout against veteran Mike Pyle, winning a three-round unanimous decision.
Scores were 30-27 twice and 29-28 for Covington, who stepped in for the injured Sean Spencer.
The opening round was simple to break down, Covington looking for the takedown while locking his foe up against the fence and Pyle trying to stay upright. Three minutes in, Covington got his takedown, but he wasn’t able to inflict any significant damage.
There was no change to the strategy for Covington, but he was also able to land some hard strikes en route to his next takedown. Pyle nearly caught an arm with two minutes gone, Covington easily slipping free and proceeding to land with ground strikes until referee Herb Dean restarted the action.
Pyle came out fast in the final round, looking to turn things around, but his attempt to catch Covington in a submission saw “Chaos” simply throw him off like a rag doll and put the veteran on his back once more. With less than two minutes remaining, Pyle was able to reverse position and get mount, and he nearly locked Covington up in a choke, but the Floridian got loose just in time and rode out the clock from the top position.
With the win, Covington ups his record to 8-0; Pyle falls to 26-11-1.
MAKHACHEV vs. KUNTZ
Islam Makhachev’s stablemate Khabib Nurmagomedov wasn’t able to compete in UFC 187 action at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas Saturday night due to injury, but the debuting Makhachev impressed in his own right, submitting Leo Kuntz in the second round of their lightweight preliminary bout.
Makhachev was the aggressor to start, but it was a patient aggression until he threw Kuntz to the canvas with a little over two minutes left and then took his back. Kuntz was cool under pressure, getting out of trouble and back to his feet, where he did good work at range.
The Dagestan native looked even more comfortable in round two, landing short counters and then taking Kuntz’ back again when the bout strayed to the canvas. This second time around, Makhachev sunk in a rear naked choke, and it was game over, with the tap coming at the 2:38 mark.
Makhachev ups his record to 12-0; Kuntz falls to 17-2-1.
SCOGGINS vs. SAMPO
Entertaining flyweight prospect Justin Scoggins broke a two-fight losing skid in the opener, winning a shutout three-round unanimous decision over Josh Sampo.
All three judges saw it 30-27.
Sampo ate a lot of kicks in the first round, and while no significant damage was done by the dynamic offensive attack of Scoggins, the points piled up as Sampo was unable to close the distance or get the bout to the mat.
Scoggins began to deliver the damage in the second, scoring a flash knockdown early in the frame with a hook kick to the head and tagging his foe with a front kick to the face midway through the round. Sampo did get the bout briefly to the canvas with a little over two minutes left, and though he didn’t keep Scoggins there, his success did propel him to get a little closer in the scoring late in the round.
Returning to his first round form, Scoggins built on his lead in the final round, even trading takedowns with Sampo to secure his win on the scorecards.
With the win, Scoggins improves to 10-2; Sampo falls to 11-5.