The UFC APEX Center in Las Vegas, Nevada was home to a great night of fights at UFC 252: Miocic vs. Cormier 3. The card saw four (T)KOs, one submission and six decisions.
The prelims opened with a fantastic scrap between Kai Kamaka and Tony Kelley that saw the two put on a FOTN performance, ending with Kamaka taking the unanimous decision. Chris Daukaus followed up with a first-round TKO of Parker Porter with knees and punches. Livia Renata Souza took a definitive unanimous decision over Ashley Yoder, and Danny Chavez would defeat TJ Brown with another unanimous decision. Felice Herrig would find herself on the wrong end of an armbar in the first round of her fight with lethal grappling ace Virna Jandiroba and Jim Miller would find himself in the “L” column after Vinc Pichel took the unanimous decision in their tremendous battle.
The main card kicked off with a great fight between Merab Dvalishvili and John Dodson where the Georgian came in with his Energizers fully charged and beat Dodson via unanimous decision with a frenetic pace, boxing up “The Magician” and dumping him on the ground a few times, too. Merab wished Sean O’Malley well in his post-fight interview when asked what kind of opponent he wanted next. Um, yes please!
Daniel Pineda scored the upset over Herbert Burns by beating him up on the ground and out-grappling the BJJ ace for almost the entire fight. The end would come near the end of the second round where Daniel had Herbert pinned in a crucifix while he rained down punches and elbows until the ref waved off the action. After a tepid first round, Jairzinho Rozenstruick nailed Junior dos Santos in the second with a big 1-2 combo, followed by a barrage and another huge left as JDS tried to regain his footing. The last punch put JDS back down and the fight was over.
The co-main event was a game of kicks until “Suga” rolled his ankle and was hobbled. “Chito” was already finding his rhythm before the injury, but ended up dominating O’Malley with a massive elbow and a couple punches after he fell to the canvas. Herb Dean was lightning quick to stop the fight, giving nobody the opportunity to question him.
The main event started off with much less volume than the first fight. Miocic started his body work early, Cormier fought a little more cautiously until the end of the first round where he started uncorking his bottle of lightning. As with the first two fights, Daniel accidentally poked Stipe in the eye. The second round saw Daniel throwing heat again, and Stipe was returning the favor, dropping Cormier with 10 seconds left on the clock. Saved by the bell! The third round was all Stipe, even with a minute-plus resting period of having DC pinned against the cage. Then Miocic returned the eyepoke favor to DC just before the horn and it was brutal. Round four started with Cormier’s eye looking like he took a knuckle-deep eyepoke. The fourth was a back-and-forth affair with lots of time in the clinch, but Cormier seemed to edge it out, likely tying it all up heading into the final round. The fifth saw Stipe pin DC up against the fence for about a minute before the fight ended up back in the center where Cormier fired off several rockets that Miocic ate like Godzilla. Miocic fired off some bombs and body shots. Cormier land some of his own in the clinch. The fight goes the distance with Stipe Miocic retaining his belt via unanimous decision and Daniel Cormier confirmed his retirement. What a war!
Performance of the Night: Daniel Pineda, Virna Jandiroba
Chris Daukaus (TKO (punches and knees), 4:28 of round 1), Virna Jandiroba (armbar, 1:44 of round 1), Daniel Pineda (TKO (punches and elbows), 4:37 of round 2) , Jairzinho Rozenstruik (TKO (strikes), 3:47 of round 2), and Marlon Vera (TKO (strikes), 4:40 of round 1) all finished their fights inside the distance, but it would be Daniel Pineda and Virna Jandiroba that would take home the $50K POTN bonus checks.
Fight of the Night: Kamaka/Kelley
Kai Kamaka (29-28, 29-28, 29-28), Livia Renata Souza (29-28, 29-28, 30-27), Danny Chavez (29-28, 29-28, 29-28), Vinc Pichel (29-28, 29-28, 29-27), Merab Dvalishvili (30-27 x3), and Stipe Miocic (49-46, 49-46, 48-47) all heard the final horn in their respective fights, but it would be Kai Kamaka’s battle with Tony Kelley that would take FOTN.