UFC packed 187 top to bottom with some of the biggest names in the sport for their annual Memorial Day weekend extravaganza. We have a new light heavyweight champ, a new number one lightweight contender, and Andrei Arlovski vs. Travis Browne, despite being only 4:41 long, quickly became one of the most insane heavyweight wars ever.
Daniel Cormier Wins Light Heavyweight Gold
As I said in our preview, Anthony Johnson’s cardio was the biggest question mark leading up to the fight. Johnson is a large, powerful machine, but it takes a lot of fuel to power that. Fighters that get in and pressure Johnson have always been a problem for him, and Cormier, being known for his ability to apply intense pressure, did exactly that.
Johnson landed a massive right that flattened DC out like an old tire, but Cormier recovered and outwrestled Johnson for the rest of the three round fight. By round two, Johnson’s cardio was done, and by round three, the end was inevitable. Cormier sank the rear naked choke and Johnson received his fifth career loss and fourth via that submission.
It was a great victory for Cormier and the culmination of a lifetime of work, but it’s hard to fully embrace the new champion without also acknowledging both the circumstances that led to Jon Jones being stripped of his title and how far the light heavyweight division has fallen to create the circumstances that allowed for him to challenge again in the first place. Cormier is one of the best in the world, the best at light heavyweight as of last night, but he entered the fight coming off of a loss to a champ that just soundly defeated him.
The other issue is that the light heavyweight division seriously lacks depth. Bisping, Henderson, and Machida have long since left the division and none seem terribly interested in returning. According to the UFC, the top five rankings going into last night’s fight were as follows:
- 1: Anthony Johnson
- 2: Alexander Gustafsson
- 3 : Daniel Cormier
- 4: Rashad Evans
- 5: Ryan Bader
Outside of the top three, you have Evans, who will have been out for two years if he returns at the end of 2015, and Ryan Bader, who despite putting together a four win streak, really shouldn’t be so close to a title shot due to the caliber of his opposition. Further down, you have Glover Teixeira who has lost two straight, and Rampage Jackson and Shogun Rua are still somehow mercifully clinging to the bottom of the top ten this deep into 2015. Cormier will reign at the top of the light heavies until Jones returns, but until the 205 division gets some new life, it’s largely non-competitive.
Chris Weidman Defends
Chris Weidman’s fight against Vitor Belfort went as many other Vitor fights. Belfort came in and threw about 200 punches, but Weidman blocked most of them and was able to get Belfort to the canvas. From there, Belfort was ineffective and allowed Weidman to easily mount and posture up. Weidman punctuated a beating a year and a half in the making as he rained fist after American fist down upon the Brazilian. Weidman again insisted that something was screwy with Belfort’s testosterone levels that had been released a few days prior and gave the fans one last opportunity to hop on Team Weidman.
The unbeaten middleweight moves to 13-0 and will probably face either Luke Rockhold or Ronaldo Souza next. Rockhold, who became the fastest person to submit Lyoto Machida, almost certainly stamped his shot after that win. As for where and win, nothing is for sure, but early speculation indicates that Madison Square Garden later this year may be the money choice.
Donald Cerrone Cements Title Shot
Cowboy will finally get some time off this summer while he waits to be the first contender to new champ Rafael dos Anjos’s lightweight crown. Cerrone broke John Makdessi’s jaw with a second round head kick, and Makdessi instantly called it quits. Cerrone was a huge step up in competition for Makdessi, and Cerrone’s muay thai looked crisp against him as he mixed up leg kicks, elbows, knees, and head kicks while battering his opponent.
Dana White confirmed that Cerrone, now winner of eight straight, will face dos Anjos at an event later this year. The champ is currently sidelined due to injuries received during his last fight.
Andrei Arlovski Close to Title Shot?
Andrei Arlovski is a credible title contender. Nobody predicted this would be a running story in 2015, but with the promotion having difficulty attracting talent at 205 and above coupled with an oft-injured champ, opportunities like this can appear. He and Travis Browne threw down in what was probably the most exciting heavyweight fight of all time, as he and Hapa both exchanged multiple concussions back and forth until Arlovski TKOed Browne against the fence. Highlights below while available:
Full Fight Results
- Main Card
- Daniel Cormier defeated Anthony Johnson at 2:39 of the 3rd round by Submission - Rear Naked Choke
- Chris Weidman defeated Vitor Belfort at 2:53 of the 1st round by TKO - Punches
- Donald Cerrone defeated John Makdessi at 4:44 of the 2nd round by KO - Head Kick
- Andrei Arlovski defeated Travis Browne at 4:41 of the 1st round by TKO - Punches
- Joseph Benavidez defeated John Moraga at 5:00 of the 3rd round by Decision - Unanimous
- Prelims - Fox Sports One
- John Dodson defeated Zach Makovsky at 5:00 of the 3rd round by Decision - Unanimous
- Dong Hyun Kim defeated Josh Burkman at 2:13 of the 3rd round by Submission - Arm Triangle Choke
- Rafael Natal defeated Uriah Hall at 5:00 of the 3rd round by Decision - Split
- Colby Covington defeated Mike Pyle at 5:00 of the 3rd round by Decision - Unanimous
- Prelims - Fight Pass
- Islam Makhachev defeated Leo Kuntz at 2:38 of the 2nd round by Submission - Rear Naked Choke
- Justin Scoggins defeated Josh Sampo at 5:00 of the 3rd round by Decision - Unanimous