On this day in MMA history we are taking a look back at a pivotal night in the UFC’s light heavyweight division, a controversial TKO and the last night for one of MMA’s pioneering organizations.
April 8, 2017: Controversy swirls around UFC 210
In 2016 New York finally agreed to allow MMA back into the state. After reversing its 1997 ban on the sport, for the first time ever, MMA — as we know it today — was legal across the entire United States.
The first UFC event to take place since the lifting of the ban was the historic UFC 205 card at Madison Square Garden. That event saw Conor McGregor beat Eddie Alvarez to claim the UFC lightweight belt. Next up was the forgettable UFC Fight Night: Lewis vs. Abdurakhimov in Albany and then UFC 208: Holm vs. de Randamie in Brooklyn.
The fourth event held in the Empire State was UFC 210 at the KeyBank Center in Buffalo. Headlining that card was a rematch between UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier and challenger Anthony Johnson. The co-main was a middleweight clash between former champion Chris Weidman and Gegard Mousasi.
The event went off to an unusual start at the weigh-ins. This is where Cormier’s infamous ‘towelgate’ incident happened, with the champion seemingly gaming the scales to make sure he didn’t miss weight for his title defense. The weigh-ins also saw a debacle ensue around a fight between Pearl Gonzalez and Cynthia Calvillo. Gonzalez was initially pulled from the card by the inexperienced New York State Athletic Commission because of her breast implants. However, the decision would later be reversed and the fight was able to go ahead.
The event itself saw a big heap of controversy, too — thanks to the ending of Weidman vs. Mousasi. In the second round of the contest Mousasi turned up the pressure on the American. He landed a number of power punches and then blasted Weidman with knees in the clinch. That’s when everything went wrong. Referee Dan Miragliotta thought the knee strikes were illegal and decided to stop the action. Instant replays showed that Weidman had just a single hand touching the canvas, making the knees legal. NYSAC did not permit Miragliotta to view a replay, so the referee instead called to John McCarthy, sitting cageside to look at a ringside and make a call. ‘Big John’ relayed that the knees were legal.
What happened next was a prolonged discussion between Miragliotta and UFC rules and regulation tzar Marc Ratner. Eavesdropping on that was Joe Rogan, who gave his two cents on the incident, too — which, often contradicted what Miragliotta and Ratner seemed to be saying.
While those discussions played out a ringside physician adjudicated that Weidman, who was being given time to recover, was not fit to continue. After some more palaver between Miragliotta and Ratner it was decided that Mousasi’s knees were legal and that he had won the bout via TKO.
Round 2 - Mousasi came out with jabs. He stunned Weidman a bit and he’s throwing uppercuts. A knee! He’s bringing major pressure. Mousasi went for a takedown! Wow, didn’t see that coming. After they were reset in the center, Weidman got an immediate takedown. Mousasi landing elbows from the bottom. He’s trying to buck Weidman off but he can’t. Weidman moved to mount. Mousasi immediately gave up his back. Weidman with hooks. Mousasi rolled through, but Weidman rolled right back on top. Mousasi used the momentum to continue and get back to his feet. Mousasi cracked him and then threw knees on the ground. Weidman appeared to have both hands down on the second knee and it might have been illegal. Referee Dan Mirgliotta stepped in. Weidman is sitting against the cage and the doctor is looking at him. Mousasi won’t lose a point though. It was very, very close. Mirg asked someone to see the replay. And he says it’s legal now. So they’re restarting it with 3:13 left? I’m really not sure what is going on here. There is no replay in New York. This is so confusing. Now they’re calling the fight. Gegard Mousasi wins in one of the weirdest finishes I’ve ever seen. Apparently the doctors called the fight, even though Weidman was fine to continue.
Moments after that fight was settled, Daniel Cormier repeated his past performance versus Anthony Johnson, taking him down and submitting him via rear naked choke. That’s exactly what he did the first time they met — at UFC 187 in 2015 — when he won the vacant light heavyweight title.
You can see some action from Cormier vs. Johnson 2 and Weidman vs. Mousasi via the UFC’s Fight Motion:
April 8, 2007: Pride FC puts on its last ever show
Pride 34: Kamikaze wasn’t planned to be the beloved Japan based MMA promotion’s final show. However, after the outfit’s parent company was purchased by Station Casinos Inc. in March, 2007 the promotion was stripped for parts with no intention of ever producing another event. Station Casinos is owned by the Fertitta Brothers, who owned the UFC at this time.
Pride’s last event was supposed to feature Wanderlei Silva vs. Igor Vovchanchyn. However, thanks to a medical suspension from the Nevada State Athletic Commission the ‘Axe Murderer’ was unable to compete.
Despite Silva’s absence the card still managed to include a number of names famously associated with the pride brand. The main event of the night was a heavyweight bout which saw Jeff Monson choke out Kazuyuki Fujita. The co-main event saw future UFC flop Rameau Thierry Sokodjou take out Ricardo Arona with an uppercut followed by a soccer kick. Also on the card were wins for Shinya Aoki (over Brian Lo-A-Njoe), James Thompson (versus Don Frye) and Gilbert Yvel (versus Akira Shoji).