UFC 192: Main Card Review
UFC 192: Cormier vs. Gustafsson
We started this event yesterday at the weigh ins when Johnny Hendricks, who was supposed to fight Tyron Woodly in the co-main event, had to pull out of the fight when he was rushed to the hospital for a blockage in his intestine. Hendricks struggled to make weight and UFC President Dana White said he came in twenty pounds above the limit. Woodly was understandable upset when it was revealed he won’t be fighting, making his 8 week training camp pointless, cutting into his paycheck, and reducing his chances of a title fight after this number one contender bout. Dana White dismissed Woodly’s concerns by later stated that Woodly will be next in line for a title fight against the winner of Robbie Lawler and Carlos Condit.
Light Heavyweight Title: Daniel Cormier vs. Alexander Gustafsson
Winner: The Fans! Daniel Cormier via Split Decision
This was a WAR. And single handedly saved the event. Both fighters look like they’ve been through a car crash. The biggest hit of the match goes to Alexander Gustafsson when he landed a big knee in the third round that left Daniel Cormier wobbled. For a minute there it looked like Gustafson was going to end the fight early but Cormier proves he has a granite chin and stays till the very end. Cormier landed a highlight reel takedown slam at the beginning of the fight, picking up Gustafsson into the air then flipping him towards the mat. Gustafsson and Cormier put on a show and DC proved he has the will of a champion after this brutal matchup. Cormier’s best offense came with uppercuts in the clinch, he repeatedly got Gustafson in a half muy thai clinch that allowed him to throw some heavy right uppercuts while holding the challenger’s head with his left. Cormier landed more shots throughout the fight and even hit some leg kicks. Gustafson used his range the best he could but repeatedly turned and jogged away in order to reset the distance. This ended up looking like he was running away which could have tipped the closer rounds in Cormier’s favor. Cormier deserves this win, Gus deserves his place amongst the very tip top in the division, he’s pushed both Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier to the absolute brink. The Light-heavyweight division is in a bit of a bind as Cormier has already defeated the clear top fighters in the division in his last two bouts, the question remains as to what happens when Jon Jones comes back. Does Jones get an immediate title fight or does he have to go through Anthony Johnson or Alexander Gustafsson in order to get a shot at his title.
PS. Extra classy post fight interview by Cormier, telling Gustafsson he made him a better man by putting him through that war.
Light Heavyweight: Ryan Bader vs. Rashad Evans
Winner: Ryan Bader via Unanimous Decision
“Suga” Rashad Evans finally makes his way back to the octagon after a two year layover, only to be outclassed by Ryan Bader. Not a bad performance though, specifically for a guy coming off of two major knee surgeries. However the real story is Ryan Bader, who was once regarded as a gatekeeper in the light-heavyweight division but now he’s on a 5 fight win streak and ranked 4th in the division. Bader’s standup has grown by leaps and bounds. He kept landing a sneaky right hand that looked like a combination of an uppercut and a straight. Rashad was able to mount his best offense when he had Bader closed off by the cage but he seemed hesitant to let his hands fly. Ring rust is real, specifically when it comes to timing and comfort and Rashad looked uncomfortable. It’s hard to go from a comfortable job analyzing the sport then jump back into the grind. Bader threw variety, including leg kicks and body kicks, he end landed big takedowns in his complete showing of his skill. This is Bader’s biggest win but even now it doesn’t look like the best showing to say you deserve a title fight.
Heavyweight: Shawn Jordan vs. Ruslan Magomedov
Winner: Ruslan Magomedov via Unanimous Decision
Technique beats power in this battle of heavyweights. Shawn Jordan came into this fight over 20 pounds heavier than Magomedov and man did it show. Jordan’s gas tank was half empty when he stepped into the ring. His entire gameplan was to plod forward and try to land a heavy left hand. Magomedov wasn’t going to have any of that. Magomedov used his speed, reach and amazing technical striking to keep Jordan at bay. Magomedov threw straight kicks, question mark kicks, and some fluid combos with his hands. Jordan was getting hit in places he didn’t even know he could get hit in. Magomedov stayed controlled and calm and didn’t put himself into unnecessary trouble by looking for the knockout. I honestly think he could have knocked out most other fighters with some of those head kicks. Jordan is very one dimensional and needs to add some layers to his game, but with such a thin heavyweight division his job isn’t in any kind of trouble. Magomedov left me impressed, I can’t wait to see how his technical striking fairs with the higher levels of this division.
Flyweight: Joseph Benavidez vs. Ali Bagautinov
Winner: Joseph Benavidez via Unanimous Decision
From a technical standpoint Benavidez and Bagautinov put on a good fight, as far as casual fan appeal it wasn’t the most entertaining. Benavidez seems to have lost a step because he did not look like the typical fast and furious 125 pound fighter. His fighting style seems to have shifted towards more power shots but he didn’t look fully committed to any punch because he feared the KO power in Bagautinov. Benavidez did enough slipping and ripping to land enough strikes and avoid enough damage, save for a monster uppercut, to edge out a decision victory. Bagautinov needs to learn how to cut off the ring if he wants to stand a chance against the speedy fighters of the 125 pound division. Mighty Mouse Johnson reigns supreme in this division and Benavidez is going to get torn apart if he faces him again. (Tip: If you want to win over the fans, maybe you shouldn’t tell them to shut up for finding your fight boring. Just saying, Benavidez)
Women’s Bantamweight: Jessica Eye vs. Julianna Peña
Winner: Julianna Peña via Decision
Only two things were memorable about this fight was the illegal knee and the post fight interview. In the second round, after great submission attempt by Jessica Eye, she found herself on the mat with Julianna Peña working in side control. In a pretty blatant move Jessica Eye decided to throw an illegal knee that cost her an instant point deduction. The referee did a great job by setting precedent that transgressions will not be waived off. The bout was more or less a clear victory for Pena who is a far better grappler than Eye. Pena then went on to call out Ronda Rousey, claiming she is the Evander Holyfield to Rousey’s Mike Tyson. Pena may have a 6 fight undefeated record but she’s getting a little to far ahead of herself. While her grappling is respectable Rousey used to submit every single one of her opponents until recently when she started knocking people out, Pena’s stand-up looks laughable which only hints at a quick finish for her if the UFC brass chose to feed her to Rousey.
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