After months of taunts, brawls, mean mugs, and bold proclamations, UFC light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones and title challenger Daniel Cormier took part in a relatively one-sided five-round affair at UFC 182, proving once again that hyperbole does not guarantee ‘Fight of the Year' candidates.
While Jones' dominance over Cormier was spectacular to behold, it did not overshadow the remainder of the night and the uninspiring action that came with it. While other events have gotten away with surprisingly entertaining fights on shallow cards, the UFC was unable to mask the humdrum fights that took place on Saturday night's show.
Nevertheless, there were still several impactful performances and equally abysmal showings that warrant some post-fight thoughts.
Jon Jones is a truly remarkable athlete. Not just amongst his MMA peers - he is simply an exceptional athlete by any standard. His ability to develop at a rapid pace between title defenses and overcome every obstacle in his path with awe-inspiring ability makes him a pleasure to watch. His UFC resume stands as one of most illustrious in the promotion's history and he now has a strong chance of surpassing his predecessors' streaks. Many believed Cormier would prove to be his equal but even he was unable to maintain that illusion once the fight reached the championship rounds.
Jones' performance against Cormier begs the question: who can dethrone this champion now?
Donald Cerrone derailed the Jury hype train with a dominant display in their co-main event contest. Cerrone showcased both his grappling and his diverse striking skills against the previously undefeated fighter to tie Khabib Nurmagomedov for the longest active win streak in the lightweight division (6). It was a clear statement, both to Jury and to the remainder of the division: Cerrone is still a force to be reckoned with at 155-pounds.
Brad Tavares snapped a two-fight losing streak in the octagon when he defeated Nate Marquardt via unanimous decision. It was a typical performance from the middleweight - one that was quite difficult to watch at times. However, he managed to secure his spot in the organization and moved to 12-3 in his professional career.
Kyoji Horiguchi put on another entertaining display inside the octagon on the UFC 182 main card when he defeated Louis Gaudinot via unanimous decision. Although he failed to finish an opponent that many expected him to starch, it would not be much of a surprise if his win catapults him to a title shot in the dreadfully shallow flyweight division.
Hector Lombard is now on a three-fight win streak following his patient performance against a crafty Josh Burkman. He took command of the fight, maintained his stamina and energy levels, a notorious weak spot for the Cuban in the past, and won a clear unanimous decision against the returning veteran. While his win doesn't scream ‘title contender,' Lombard continues to prove he is one of the toughest fighters in the welterweight division.
Paul Felder earned his second victory under the UFC banner when he knocked out Danny Castillo with a spinning back fist that marked one of the highlights of the evening. "The Irish Dragon" put on an impressive performance overall and showed off quite a bit of his arsenal before finishing the fight in spectacular fashion. It will be interesting to see how he progresses from here.
Cody Garbrandt was one of the touted prospects on Saturday night's fight card and he seemingly lived up to expectations, as he finished Marcus Brimage with a vicious barrage of strikes late in the third round. For someone who has only been a professional fighter for two years, and apparently broke his hand in the opening round, he was able to make a successful UFC debut and will likely have a fruitful few years with the promotion.
Omari Akhmedov picked up his second win in the UFC on Saturday night and his first victory since his debut in the promotion back in 2013. His only recent loss came against Gunnar Nelson, who defeated him via first round submission. Considering this was Akhmedov's first time in the third round of an MMA fight, he showed decent endurance and fight IQ during the later stages of the fight. Given the surge of MMA fighters from the North Caucasus region, Akhmedov's win is another sign of the gradually changing landscape in MMA.
Daniel Cormier came in hungry to win the title but left a beaten man with a disappointing showing in the final ten minutes of the fight. He was outdone in every aspect of the fight; sure, he managed to win a round on all scorecards with his striking, and even got a flashy takedown in the final round, but he simply did not produce the kind of showing that would have dethroned a unique champion like Jon Jones. This may not be the last time ‘DC' challenges Jones for the title, but it will certainly put a dent in his confidence the second time around.
Myles Jury suffered the first loss of his professional career on Saturday night, yet it was undoubtedly a learning experience for the young talent. While this was Jury's first opportunity to break into the upper echelon of the lightweight division, it was certainly not his last. With some improvement and a few more fights under his belt, he will be ready to potentially make a serious run at 155-pounds.
Nate Marquardt continued his dramatic decline as a fighter with another poor performance under the UFC banner. He has now lost three of his four UFC appearances during this second stint with the organization - two by knockout. While he could get one more fight with the UFC, it is difficult to see him finding success as either a middleweight or a welterweight.
Josh Burkman failed to make an impressive return in the UFC following a six-year absence from the promotion. While he managed to remain somewhat competitive against his rather intimidating opponent, Burkman appeared tired and befuddled during much of the fight. Every once in a while he would pepper Lombard with a left strike but it should never have been impactful enough to justify a round on any scorecard.
Alexis Dufresne, the Xplode Fight Series standout (sense the sarcasm?), suffered her second, and likely final loss, in the UFC octagon on Saturday night. The self-professed "Sneaky Zebra" put on one of the worst performances of any division in recent memory when she served as a punching bag for Marion Reneau in the evening's curtain jerker. It is hard to envision a fight in the UFC that Dufresne could actually win, which is why her spot on the roster should go to someone far more deserving - or at least someone who actually trains.
Dufresne's cornermen deserve their own paragraph in the loser's section, as their lack of intelligence, consideration or willingness to throw in the towel when their fighter was suffering unnecessary damage for the better part of three rounds was absolutely appalling. None of those corner men should be allowed the responsibility of dealing with fighters again.
UFC 182 was supposed to be the Pay-Per-View that kicked off a slew of breathtaking events and erased the distressing memories of PPV cards in 2014. It was also supposed to be an opportunity for curious casuals or intrigued newcomers to test the waters with MMA viewing and embrace the sport in their regular routine. Sadly, if that were the case, they would likely have left with the bitter taste of disappointment.