The Severe Diagnosis – UFC 187: Cormier vs. Johnson

danielcormier

The famed MGM Grand garden arena in Las Vegas, Nevada was the venue, this weekend, for one of the best UFC card’s in recent memory. Two titles were up from grabs on Saturday night and, with Jon Jones recently stripped of his strap, we knew at least one new champion would be crowned.

Cormier Comes Of Age

In the main event that new champion was crowned as Daniel Cormier, the last man to challenge Jon Jones, faced off against Anthony Johnson in a fight which turned out to be a magical back-and-forth affair. A huge leg kick from Johnson got the match-up underway and it wasn’t long before the action intensified. The next shot thrown, a gargantuan overhand right, put Cormier on his back and looked to have him in dire trouble. Instinctively, he somehow managed to pop up but was caught, and knocked, again. As Johnson drove down to attack, Cormier scarpered for safety and escaped before grabbing a hold of his opponent’s legs. From there, Cormier was able to nullify the movement and fully recover as he had Johnson controlled against the fence for a couple of minutes without landing much in the way of damage.

Eventually, though, they did detach and Johnson hurt him again with a power-laden high kick and right hand combination. Cormier immediately tried for a takedown but it was stuffed and he was hit again with a stiff shot from the break. Entering the last minute of the round, Cormier was able get some cage control and even struck AJ with a couple of dirty boxing attacks just before the bell.

It was a leg kick/right hand combination which Johnson opened the second round with, just like the first, as Cormier scrambled to get a hold of him. Two massive head kicks from Johnson had Cormier wobbling again but he managed to survive and closed the distance. Once they came together, Cormier was able to clamp his hands behind AJ’s back and lifted him up before slamming him into the ground. Johnson looked tired on his back as DC arrived in half guard and landed output orientated ground and pound. A kimura attempt was then unsuccessful for Cormier but the fight had clearly turned as Johnson could not escape. Towards the end of the round Cormier upped his level of dominance and landed a number of slicing short elbows which cut Rumble wide open and left him demoralized walking back to his stool.

Johnson looked absolutely wrecked between rounds but came out throwing hard again in the third. With Cormier against the fence, Johnson landed two scoring right hands and even took him down – but it wasn’t for long. Cormier immediately got off of his back and had the weary Johnson against the cage as he decided on his next movement. As it turned out, that was to ride it out on his back and throw bungalows as a seemingly prone Johnson had no answer for it and with AJ fighting back less-and-less, Cormier went for the kill. A couple of strikes were enough to confuse the gassed Blackzilian as Cormier neatly slipped an arm under the neck and tied up the rear naked choke. Johnson, who let everything go early in the fight, clearly had nothing left to give and made Big John McCarthy’s job easy as he tapped out almost immediately. For Cormier, it was the completion of a lifetime of sporting endeavours after disappointment at the Olympic games and in his previous title attempt. After the fight, Cormier’s only words were to call out former champion Jon Jones in what looks like being an absolutely blockbuster of a rematch.

Weidman Works Wonders

In the co-main event it was the middleweight title on deck as champion Chris Weidman took on fiery veteran Vitor Belfort. For someone who had been out of the cage for over 18 months, Vitor Belfort didn’t show any ring rust early although It was Weidman who took the centre of the cage from the start. The American attacked hard with head kicks but all were off base as Belfort circled away well and avoided the big shots.

A takedown attempt from Weidman was the first real offensive move of the fight and it led to a wild, manic scramble. Belfort bounced up as he escaped from the clutches of Weidman and attacked with two kicks to the body of his ascending opponent. When Weidman did return to his feet, Belfort was quick to pounce and attacked hard. With Weidman’s back against the cage, Belfort threw strike after strike as Weidman couldn’t escape. Three left uppercuts to the body and a couple to the head had the champion hurt but he eventually managed get off the cage and into open water.

That was where the stand-up ended. Weidman immediately set-up the takedown and put the Brazilian on his back with a perfectly executed double leg. On the floor, it was deep trouble for Belfort as Weidman passed superbly into mount and then took the back before Belfort fought back around. Entering the mount for the second occasion Weidman was more secure and postured up for maximum damage.

Punches, hammerfists and elbows quickly followed which bloodied up the clearly hurt Brazilian. Despite all his attempts, there was no escape for Belfort who threw punches from the bottom as referee Herb Dean urged him to fight back. That did nothing but give Weidman more openings and, to his credit, he ruthlessly took them. A series of four elbows had Vitor’s head bouncing off the canvas while the fifth, followed by a couple of hammerfists, had Herb Dean stepping in to, correctly, stop the fight. After much talk, it was a superb display from Weidman who now moves towards the new breed of middleweights after taking out the Brazilian legends.

Arlovski The Awesome Assassin 

Outside of the two title fights the quality went from very bad to very, very good. The best of the lot was undoubtedly the heavyweight meeting of Andrei Arlovski and Travis Browne which became a clear contender for fight of the year as the two former teammates slugged it out for four and a half minutes of the best action you are ever likely to see.

It was a huge right hand from the underdog Arlovski which started it all and had Browne on jelly legs early. But, as he went in for the kill, Browne fired back and tested the seat of Arlovski’s pants. With both men hurt, there was no option but to attack some more as Arlovski was first to land and rock an opponent who needed the fence as his aid to keep him standing. Amazingly, Browne came back to life and walloped Arlovski with a huge right hand. He ate it well, though, and came back on the attack. Browne tried to do the same, but he just couldn’t as his legs completely failed him. His only option was to lean against the fence which left him a sitting duck and, as Arlovski upped the pace, referee Mark Smith was forced to step in and stop what surely is the fight of 2015.

The card also saw an impressive win for Donald Cerrone over the clearly outmatched John Makdessi which earns him a UFC lightweight title fight while flyweight contenders were also in action as John Dodson and Joseph Benavidez both won but it somewhat uninspiring fashion.

Check out the full results below:

Daniel Cormier def. Anthony Johnson via submission (rear-naked choke) – R3, 2:39
Chris Weidman def. Vitor Belfort via TKO – R1, 2:53
Donald Cerrone def. John Makdessi via TKO – R2, 4:44
Andrei Arlovski def. Travis Browne via TKO – R1, 4:41
Joseph Benavidez def. John Moraga via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

John Dodson def. Zach Makovsky via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Dong Hyun Kim def. Josh Burkman via submission (arm-triangle) – R3, 2:13
Rafael Natal def. Uriah Hall via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Colby Covington def. Mike Pyle via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-27)

Islam Makhachev def. Leo Kuntz via submission (rear-naked choke) – R2, 2:38
Justin Scoggins def. Josh Sampo via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

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 Facebook.com/seansheehanmma