The Sunday Aftermath – UFC 178


This weekend was all about one event – UFC 178. McGregor, Cruz, Wonderboy, Mighty Mouse, Zingano, Cerrone and Alvarez were just a few of the big and rising stars on show in the consensus best event of the year. With a title on the line to top the card and a line-up of glittering fights preceding it we were treated to a magnificent night of mixed martial arts.


Coming into Saturday night, UFC 178 was seen as one of the most stacked cards in UFC history. What’s more, the biggest fight initially scheduled to take place on the card, between Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones, was cancelled when Jones suffered a knee injury in training over a month out. Even though that fight didn’t happen, on paper, it was still an extremely exciting and highly anticipated pay-per-view. There’s a lesson to be learned there for the UFC. Injuries like this to top stars happen extremely often  and, even at the expense of other shows because, you must stack the pay-per-views as much as possible. Recent cancelled shows UFC 151 and UFC 176 were a direct result of a weak card coupled with an injury to a headliner. In those two cases, when Jones/Henderson and Aldo/Mendes were cancelled, there was no fight on the undercard even close to being worthy to headline. At UFC 178, you had three fights which could have stepped in, saved the PPV and the undercard would still have looked fine. The current UFC business model is clearly in transition from primarily PPV based to PPV/TV/Online based. But at this time, with pay-per-views still being a huge part of the company, the UFC need to keep those well oiled and well running – to do that they must plan for the worst and stack the deck as much as possible, just in-case.


When a card is so packed full of quality, like UFC 178, sometimes it just doesn’t deliver; which, in actual fact, is a bigger let down than an average card because you’ve gotten your hopes up. However, that wasn’t the case here. The fights were great on paper and even better in practice. And it all started out early with Manny Gamburyan who was close to being finished by Cody Gibson but came back to get the marvelous submission win in the second. The single most impressive performance of the night arguably came just after that as Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson dominated former title contender Patrick Cote over three rounds without hardly breaking sweat.

Then the storybook returns came. Firstly, former UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz, coming back from almost career ending knee injuries, made mince meat of Takeya Mizugaki in just over a minute. The Dominator took his opponent down with ease right out of the gate before unleashing three years of pent up aggression on the floor and getting the stoppage. Next to make a comeback was Cat Zingano, returning after a gruesome ACL tear and the sad passing of her husband. Early on it looked as if it was going to a heartbreaker for the #1 ranked female bantamweight in the world as Amanda Nunes had her in mount and badly hurt. The American somehow saw out the round before gathering herself to win the second and get the nasty TKO stoppage in the third.

In what turned out to be fight of the night, Yoel Romero and Tim Kennedy shared the opening two rounds before the Cuban blasted the American war-hero out in the third after being badly hurt himself at the end of round two. The fight was steeped in controversy, though, after Romero remained seated on his stool between the second and third rounds using slightly more than his allotted time. An irate Kennedy has promised to appeal the win but it was a pretty insignificant incident and the result of the fight is unlikely to be changed. Skipping ahead to the main event, which saw flyweight king Demetrious Johnson submit Chris Cariaso in the second with a straight armlock after yet another dominant performance against a challenger who, unfortunately, looked like he was there just to make up the numbers. The co-main, between Eddie Alvarez and Donald Cerrone, was another classic and, for my money, the best fight of the night. Alvarez took the first after landing a swarm of uppercuts, Cowboy rallied to take the second and in the third the vicious leg kicks of Cerrone sealed him the unanimous decision win.

The third fight from the end, between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier, may not have had top billing but it felt, in many ways, like the main event. McGregor, as he always does, came out loose and confident throwing wild kicks from all angles. Poirier did well to avoid the early onslaught and even answered back with a stiff straight left of his own. It was only a matter of time, though. McGregor kicked to the head again and stalked the American around the Octagon; having Poirier badly hurt after cracking him with his patented left hook. It was the beginning of the end. Another left hook from McGregor behind the ear dropped Poirier to his knees before three killer blows on the floor forced referee Herb Dean to step in and stop the fight. Another first round win for Conor McGregor – as promised.


UFC 178 was seen as a stacked card and a moving night for all the big players involved. Everyone who needed that one win to progress them forward last night got it. Firstly, for Demetrious Johnson it was just another notch on his record before the next big test of his career comes, more than likely, against the winner of John Lineker vs Ian McCall later this year. For Donald Cerrone, beating Eddie Alvarez after four other top lightweights must equal a shot at the winner of champion Anthony Pettis and Gilbert Melendez. A title shot is also surely next in line for former bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz after his demolition of Takeya Mizugaki following three years out through injury. Cruz, who was stripped of his title because of inactivity, campaigned for a fight against current champion TJ Dillashaw following the win and with no other real challenger in the mix it seems like a no-brainer. Also in the no-brainer category is the fight between Cat Zingano and Ronda Rousey who is scheduled to return in January.

The biggest fight of the night, though, had the biggest reward. Entering his fight with Dustin Poirier, Conor McGregor said he wanted to make a statement and push himself ahead of the line by finishing Poirier in a way current top ranked Cub Swanson couldn’t. He did just that with a brutal first round finish. With featherweight champion Jose Aldo rematching Chad Mendes in four weeks it could be good timing for McGregor. The only thing stopping him from getting the shot is the upcoming fight between Frankie Edgar and Cub Swanson. Should Swanson win, it would be hard to deny him a title shot after his amazing run of late. An Edgar win, though, might be a different story as it seems like the New Yorker has still a bit to go to get back into a contendership following a clutch of recent title shots. Timing is hugely important. By the time the Edgar/Swanson happens Aldo will have already fought and, should he win, be on the look out for his next opponent. With Conor McGregor scheduled to fly out to Brazil to sit ringside during the fight – he might not have to look too far.

Podcaster, lead MMA writer and analyst for SevereMMA. Host of the SevereMMA podcast, out every Sunday. Economics and Mathematics graduate from UCC. Also write for Sherdog. Previously of hov-mma and fightbooth. As heard on 2FM, Red FM, Today FM and more. Follow me on twitter for updates @SeanSheehanBA and on Facebook

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