Taken as a whole, I want to say, “Holy shit what a fantastic card!” but that wouldn’t be entirely true. To be sure, there were some low moments, perhaps none more lower than Tyron Woodley’s title defense, but we’ll get to that in a minute. Let’s take this a step at a time. I’m just going to cover the main card.
Match #1 Jimi Manuwa vs. Volkan Oedemir(w) LHW
Jimi Manuwa has made a name for himself knocking people out. Until he started getting knocked out. Newcomer Volkan Oedemir straight knocked Manuwa out within 42 seconds of the first round. Oedemir has now entered the UFC’s radar. Manuwa might be on an undercard next year or something.
Match #2 Donald Cerrone vs Robbie Lawler(w) WELT
Immediately began with Lawler charging at Cerrone and delivering an onslaught of punches, where the only reasonable response was a flurry of his own. The first round was a tug of war over momentum, with both men absolutely laying into each other. Lawler wanting to take Cerrone off his game and just overwhelm him from the onset.
The second round was much slower, though no less vicious. Cerrone attempted to keep Lawler at bay with leg strikes, though Lawler began pressing the fight harder. Cerrone, for his part, kept Lawler at bay by throwing fast combos in response. The third round saw Lawler seemingly waking up and going on the offensive against Cerrone, kicking him in the stomach. This seemed to stunt Cerrone, who afterward became much more cautious. Cerrone kept counter attacking, but ultimately the judges viewed Lawler as the unanimous victor.
This fight easily needed two more rounds, it had all the makings of a title fight, though it very likely carries with it potential title implications in the future. Though probably not the immediate future UFC brass hoping Georges St. Pierre agrees to fight Woodley (very likely with title implications).
Match #3 Cris Cyborg(w) vs Tonya Evinger Featherweight Title
Truth be told, people outside Evinger’s training camp probably didn’t think much was going to be made of this fight. After all, Evinger took the fight on short notice and went up a weight class to fight Cyborg at her best form.
Evinger did an excellent job of evading Cyborg’s power strikes while eating some lesser, though still stinging shots. The game plan seemed to be something out of Rocky, where she would hope to simply tire out the champion then make her moves. After all, she was most certainly not going to out speed or out strike Cyborg in a straight boxing fight. It would’ve been suicide.
This all lasted until the second round where Cyborg managed to wrestle Evinger into the cage then delivered a devastating knee strike right to her face. This sealed her fate and the fight, as she crumpled and Cyborg did what she has mostly done: deal punishing strikes. Fight was ruled a KO. Cyborg becomes arguably the women’s featherweight division’s first legitimate champion.
Throughout the fight I wanted to root for Evinger, who was doing her damndest to evade Cyborg’s very nasty punches. Cyborg clearly saw her as the lesser opponent though, many of her punches carried with it very bad intentions.
Match #4 Tyron Woodley(w) vs. Demian Maia (Welterweight Title)
The stinker of the night, unfortunately. Maia pressed the fight for much of it, while Woodley largely countered sparingly, but accurately. And the punches that were accurate gave Maia a very battered face, as he was visibly damaged by the fight’s conclusion. It was 25 minutes of frustration, knowing that it should be a tactical battle but instead was the type of fight no one’s going to want to re-watch.
Match #5 Jon Jones(w) vs. Daniel Cormier (Light Heavyweight title)
An intense match from start to finish, it absolutely did not disappoint. The fight lasted into the third round at the 1:57 mark. It began with Cormier relentlessly pursuing Jones, though Jones was able to use his length to force Cormier to miss most of his strikes. He was able to make some significant strikes to Jones, forcing him to play a bit conservatively. Very early on Cormier managed to punch Jones’ mouth piece out. Later in the round, Cormier and Jones butt heads causing Cormier to get a cut on his head. The referee ruled the incident an accident.
The second round saw Cormier become more confident, with Jones throwing strikes to Cormier’s head, but Cormier evading the punches, saying “Nope,” and shaking his head. Jones looked to be struggling at times, though he always managed to stay fast and elusive.
However in the third round, Jones began launching strong leg strikes that saw Cormier quickly lose his balance. Jones continued delivering fast strikes, not allowing Cormier a second to orient himself. This caused Cormier to fall to the mat near the cage, where Jones immediately descended and relentlessly beat Cormier into submission. The ref pulled Jones away and Cormier stumbled to his feet, clearly not all there.
The post fight was a surprisingly emotional scene for all parties involved. Cormier initially stormed out of the octagon, seen mumbling and teary eyed (given he was beaten pretty brutally that was understandable). Jones, who has been shit talking Cormier for a LONG time, instead was humble in victory and shout out Cormier for being his greatest rival.
Cormier, now outright crying, is attempting to compose himself while Jones took a second to challenge Brock Lesnar. Once Jones left, Joe Rogan very uncomfortably interviews a very visibly broken Cormier. Where Cormier goes from here is anyone’s guess, but Jones’ future is certain. The former champion has reclaimed the throne and everyone in the light heavyweight division has a VERY tall order ahead of them.