UFC 187 is perhaps the most stacked lineup of fights we've seen thus far in 2015, even with the loss of Jon Jones and Khabib Nurmagomedov from the card. In the main event is a light heavyweight title fight between Daniel Cormier and Anthony Johnson for the belt since stripped from Jones, and the co-main features middleweight champion Chris Weidman against Vitor Belfort.
Before we get to the two title fights, let's delve into the other fights on the main card. You have a slew of ranked opponents and prospective title contenders populating what is a very good pay-per-view. The UFC 187 main card airs live on PPV at 10 PM ET/7 PM PT, with preliminary card action at 8 PM ET/5 PM PT on Fox Sports 1.
Obviously Cerrone was due to face Nurmagomedov in a title eliminator, but those plans fell through when Khabib pulled out with a knee injury. At a minimum, it's always great to see Cerrone fight, and since losing to Rafael dos Anjos in August 2013, "Cowboy" has strung together a stunning 7 wins in a row, including one over his famous in-cage rival Ben Henderson. Given his body of work over the past 1 1/2 years, wins over Bendo, Myles Jury, Eddie Alvarez, and others could make beating Makdessi enough to just hand him a title rematch vs. dos Anjos and skip the Nurmagomedov fight altogether.
This is a lightning quick turnaround for "The Bull" Makdessi, who is coming off a very impressive 1st round TKO win over late replacement Shane Campbell at UFC 186. Consistency inside the Octagon has been a problem for the Canadian in the past, particularly in his poor showings against Alan Patrick and Dennis Hallman. But when he's on his game, the striking specialist has developed good KO power and is seldom one to shy away from a stand-up war. He has to be prepared (as well as he can be) for the opportunistic ground game of Cerrone, as the gap in quality between the two man is very evident in this department. Otherwise, expect a fun striking battle for however long the fight lasts.
Seemingly an afterthought in the heavyweight division after once being UFC champion, Arlovski has pulled off an unlikely late resurgence. Re-signed to the UFC after a 6-1, 1 NC record post-Strikeforce, Arlovski was perhaps fortunate to get a lackluster decision over Brendan Schaub at UFC 174. The former champion made up for it in a big way by KOing Antonio Silva in Brasilia, Brazil last September. Now ranked in the top 10 once again, "The Pit Bull" aims for another upset win to continue his fairy tale run.
"Hapa" was one win away from a title shot vs. Cain Velasquez, but a lopsided decision loss to Fabricio Werdum squashed those dreams. It stopped an impressive streak of finishes over Gabriel Gonzaga, Alistair Overeem, and Josh Barnett. Not to fear for Browne, however, as he was able to TKO the overmatched Brendan Schaub in the opening round of their UFC 181 encounter. Browne currently is ranked as the #3 ranked contender.
The pattern for Benavidez in the UFC thus far has been to win three fights in a row before losing to Demetrious Johnson in a championship bout. After a shocking KO loss -- it's the only time he's been finished in a fight -- to Mighty Mouse in December 2013, the Team Alpha Male product made Tim Elliott literally tap with his feet to get out of a vicious choke, and then took a clear unanimous decision over the tough Dustin Ortiz last November. A win over Moraga would be 3 in a row again for Benavidez, but with John Dodson also in the fight immediately preceding him, another title shot isn't guaranteed.
Moraga's ultimately unsuccessful crack at the flyweight belt was earned through stoppages over Ulysses Gomez and Chris Cariaso. Post-Mighty Mouse, Moraga narrowly beat Dustin Ortiz but was stopped himself versus John Dodson in June 2014. Consecutive guillotine chokes over Justin Scoggins and Willie Gates have got him stable again and back in the mix among the list of contenders at 125 lbs.