UFC 187 is in the books, and after an admittedly underwhelming preliminary card, the main card delivered terrific action from the opener to the main event. We saw Daniel Cormier crowned new light heavyweight champion and a successful title defense by the scary dominant Chris Weidman. Andrei Arlovski kept the nostalgia train going in a remarkable brawl with Travis Browne, Donald Cerrone did Donald Cerrone things, and Joseph Benavidez kept his name in the mix of title contenders at flyweight.
Time for some carefully organized chaotic thoughts on a great pay-per-view:
- Daniel Cormier told Jon Jones "get your s**t together" and walked out of the cage. Badass interview quote that the UFC must love for if/when the rematch between him and Jones gets set up. No doubt that Cormier was hurt on that early knockdown from Rumble, but he took Rumble's best shots and implemented his gameplan terrifically. The finish was a mere formality about midway through round 2 and then it actually happened in round 3.
- Anthony Johnson has had three consistent problems throughout his career: Recklessness leading to bad spots, fighting off of his back, and rallying to win. These things all tie-in to his cardio issues that have plagued him regardless of weight class. He was wild trying to finish Cormier early and once Cormier started to wear him down and put him on his back he was just about doomed. And for as many strides as Johnson has made at the Blackzilians, he doesn't win fights where he doesn't get out in front and stay there. He got out in front tonight, but couldn't stay ahead, and he tapped to the rear-naked choke for the 4th time in his 5 career losses. Rumble is still clearly an elite fighter but past weaknesses all showed up at the worst possible time tonight.
- I wonder if there's any sense of relief for the UFC knowing that they don't have to answer any questions (for the time being) about having a champion with a domestic violence past. It's certainly been a talking point over the past few days, especially given Dana White's past responses to Johnson's DV history, and it's probably not going to go away for as long as Johnson is still a top-level fighter.
- I said on Twitter the moment that Chris Weidman took Vitor Belfort down was the moment the competitive part of the fight was over. Sure enough that's exactly what happened. Belfort had a good flurry early when Weidman seemed to be bothered by a cut near his eye, but beyond that it was a mauling that was just a slight variation of round 4 of Jones vs. Belfort. Pure savagery from the champion against Vitor.
- Weidman vs. Luke Rockhold sounds fun, doesn't it? I sure hope that's what we get next. Chris Weidman is a fantastic fighter and aside from a maximum of two rounds against Lyoto Machida he has been superb in these championship fights.
- Anyone else noticed that the UFC went out of its way to NOT mention Vitor Belfort's past TRT use? Rogan was listing some of the reasons Belfort was still competing at a high level and that wasn't brought up once.
- Here's something to ponder - Donald Cerrone has won 8 in a row. John Makdessi isn't really the type of win to net you a title shot, but do you give it to him anyway based on his body of work? He's beaten Eddie Alvarez, Jim Miller, Ben Henderson, Myles Jury, and Edson Barboza along the way. If Frankie Edgar can get a title shot off of beating Matt Veach (he really got it by beating Sherk), why can't Cerrone after tonight? I'm all aboard watching him rematch Rafael dos Anjos.
- John Makdessi basically did a standing verbal submission the moment his jaw was shattered into bite-sized pieces. Kudos to him for essentially throwing in the towel on himself, because there was no way he was going to withstand much more punishment from Cerrone.
- Andrei Arlovski is a bona fide title contender in 2015. This is a real thing. I was skeptical after the Schaub win and Bigfoot KO, but no more after he blasted Travis Browne in one of the most amazing one-round fights I've ever seen in MMA. Arlovski nearly pulled out of the fight with a calf injury, nearly got KO'd by a badly hurt Browne, and ended up getting the KO win he deserved. At worst, he's a win away from a title shot. At best? He HAS that title shot vs. the Cain/Werdum winner.
- Joseph Benavidez I thought got outstruck by John Moraga in rounds 2 and 3, but his athleticism and terrific wrestling and grappling proved to be too much for the dangerous Moraga.
- I'm sure I'll accidentally re-watch John Dodson/Zach Makovsky at some point, but watching it live? Seemed like a Makovsky win to me. Either way, far from an impressive return by Dodson and he absolutely did everything he could not to stake his claim for a rematch with Demetrious Johnson.
- I ... I can't understand Josh Burkman's thought process. I'm just going to assume he was too gassed to follow up after hurting Dong Hyun Kim in the 3rd round, but he hurt him in the 2nd round and tried to take him down and grapple with a vastly superior grappler. Seems fitting that he was submitted in the end.
- I'm not bothered with the Uriah Hall vs. Rafael Natal decision. That fight basically was a perfect illustration of the frustrations, flaws, and inconsistencies out of both men. I think it's time to just admit Uriah Hall isn't that good. You can call it a mental block, bad luck (he's lost three times by split decision), or ineffective coaching, but he's been in the sport long enough to make the adjustments necessary to become a top fighter. He hasn't, and the guys who beat him in Ring of Combat (Philippou and Weidman) improved at a considerably higher rate than Hall has.
- ...That groin kick by Natal two seconds into the 1st round looked pretty damn intentional. But referees won't deduct points for 17 groin kicks in a fight, never mind 1.
- Colby Covington did well to beat a veteran like Mike Pyle on short notice, but Pyle did give him one hell of a scare with that reversal and choke attempt in the final minute. I think it's best to bring Covington along slowly because he still looks very raw skillwise.
- On the Fight Pass prelims, Justin Scoggins put in a very good showing against Josh Sampo, whose days in the UFC are likely numbered. Meanwhile, Islam Makhachev kept his undefeated record alive by beating Leo Kuntz comprehensively before submitting him with a rear-naked choke. Definitely one to watch at lightweight.