UFC 182 was a bit of a "good news, bad news" sort of card. The good news is that the UFC is expecting terrific PPV numbers and the main event between Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier was a pretty good fight. On the downside, the rest of the card wasn't up to par and the string of decisions combined with poor show pacing led to the broadcast almost going over the 3 hour allotment and robbing us of a post-fight interview with Daniel Cormier. In the end, Myles Jury and Daniel Cormier saw their undefeated records disappear, while Jon Jones remained the light heavyweight champion and Donald Cerrone continued his incredible run of form at lightweight.
For the first of many events to come in 2015, it's time to look at what's in store for the main card fighters.
Jon Jones. Well the answer is obviously the winner of Alexander Gustafsson/Anthony Johnson, and frankly if Jones dominates the winner of that fight I have no vested interest in watching him at 205 lbs anymore. He's the greatest light heavyweight of all-time and that's frankly not up for debate anymore, in my book. Jones is 15-1 in the UFC, has been taken down only twice (and he got up instantly both times), and has taken down every single opponent he's ever attempted to take down. He beats opponents at their own game and is excellent in the championship rounds. Jon Jones is an absolute marvel to watch. On personal preference, I only see Alexander Gustafsson being the only man capable of challenging and beating Jones at LHW, and if Jones beats him in the rematch, then it's time for the heavyweight challenge.
Daniel Cormier. There's a first time for everything, and it is hard to stay undefeated in high-level MMA to the point where you could argue it's virtually impossible. Cormier acquitted himself well and had some good moments in the first 3 rounds, but he was never in a position to win the fight after round 4. It won't necessarily take much for him to get back in consideration for another title shot, but at 35 years old and with more than a decade involved in wrestling and later MMA, you have to wonder how much more his body can handle physically. I believe Cormier gets the loser of Phil Davis/Ryan Bader, which is scheduled for UFC on Fox in Sweden.
Donald Cerrone. Without hesitation, and with complete disregard for his desire to fight in Colorado next month, I think he's going to be paired with Khabib Nurmagomedov to determine the next title challenger. And if they don't make it five rounds then that's criminal. Cerrone's scrambling abilities are incredible, he is a constant danger wherever the fight takes place, and against Jury he wasn't really dinged up by anything Myles threw at him.
Myles Jury. Yikes. Jury looked very much like a man who couldn't adjust to the leap from fighting Takanori Gomi to fighting a top 5 lightweight. I'm not too down on his performance because he's only 26 and can still develop into a really fearsome talent, but this was too much too soon. Jim Miller could be a suitable next fight for him, as he's coming off a loss but is still a true veteran of the sport who can double as a good test for where Jury stands and a potential quality win on his plate.
Brad Tavares. Ignoring the boos for a "meh" fight, Tavares looked sharp against Marquardt and showcased an excellent jab and brutal leg kicks. Unfortunately he has very little in the way of power even in volume, and he's a considerable distance away from the top of the middleweight division. Once he's healthy, Caio Magalhaes seems like a decent fight to book.
Nate Marquardt. Can't defend a jab, can't check a leg kick (again), can no longer initiate consistent offense. Nate Marquardt is 1-4 in his last 5 fights and is at the point where he can't even be competitive in defeat. This is his 16th year in the sport and it is glaringly obvious that he's only going to get worse. There's almost no upside to keeping him around and I think the UFC might just cut him outright.
Kyoji Horiguchi. Another good win for the Japanese sensation puts him one step closer to competing with the best at flyweight. I don't think they'll throw him directly into the fire against the likes of Dodson or Benavidez, but John Moraga is the best fight to make for Horiguchi right now.
Louis Gaudinot. With 1 win in 5 UFC fights (admittedly against a debuting John Lineker), plus a failed drug test, it's looking bleak for Gaudinot. He's not going to be released or anything after this particular fight, but he's just nowhere near able to compete at a top 10 level. Once Horiguchi was able to time his shots properly, Gaudinot ran out of ideas. I think he fights Josh Sampo in a potential "loser is cut" bout.
Hector Lombard. Rather easy win but not nearly as dominant as I think some fans had expected it to be. Something tells me that Lombard, who isn't exactly a constant whirlwind of offense, is still trying to figure out how to appropriately pace himself so that he doesn't tire out. He ain't getting a title shot, but I'm down with watching him fight Rory MacDonald for the #1 contender spot against the winner of Lawler/Hendricks III, IV, V, and VI.
Josh Burkman. If we set the bar really low, Burkman not getting steamrolled is a moral victory. But after the 1st round, Burkman was clearly tired and out of his depth and just resorted to "tough man" tactics. This was always a tough ask to come in and pull off a huge upset, so hopefully Joe Silva gives him a much more winnable (read, non-ranked opponent) match-up. Put him in against Mike Pierce.