Daniel Cormier survived some big strikes to eventually wear down Anthony Johnson and capture the vacant UFC light-heavyweight crown last night at UFC 187 in Las Vegas.
Johnson started off extremely fast with an overhand right that actually lifted Cormier off the canvas, but it seemed no matter what he threw, Cormier shrugged it off and used his wrestling to grind him down.
After a tossup first round, Johnson’s gas tank faded rapidly to having to carry Cormier’s weight on the feet and trying to defend himself on the ground. He eventually tapped in the third round to Cormier’s rear naked choke.
Cormier had a relatively muted celebration, sticking around long enough to call out suspended former champion Jon Jones.
Welcome back to The Crossfire.
Andre Arlovski and Travis Browne earned Fight-of-the-Night, while Chris Weidman and Daniel Cormier earned performances-of-the-night. All fighters earned $50,000 USD bonuses.
MMA Crossfire Expert Kenai Andrews shares his thoughts on the card.
UFC FIGHT PASS EARLY PRELIMS
JUSTIN SCOGGINS VS JOSH SAMPO
ANDREWS PREDICTION: JUSTIN SCOGGINS VIA UNANIMOUS DECISION
WINNER: JUSTIN SCOGGINS VIA UNANIMOUS DECISION (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Andrews: Scoggins simply outworked Sampo and frustrated him with his activity. A good win for Justin.
ISLAM MAKHACHEV VS LEO KUNTZ
ANDREWS PREDICTION: ISLAM MAKHACHEV VIA UNANIMOUS DECISION
WINNER: ISLAM MAKHACHEV VIA SUBMISSION R2 2:38
Andrews: Islam shook off the UFC jitters, taking some of the starch out of Kuntz early in the first, then taking the fight to the ground and cinching Leo with the rear-naked. Good win.
MIKE PYLE VS COLBY COVINGTON
ANDREWS PREDICTION: COLBY COVINGTON VIA SUBMISSION
WINNER: COLBY COVINGTON VIA UNANIMOUS DECISION (30-27, 29-28, 30-27)
Andrews: I was surprised with the standup of Covington. He kept Pyle on his toes, scored some points and then when the fight went to the ground, took advantage of the better positions. Pyle had a few unlucky breaks, but Covington deserved the win.
#4 ROSE NAMAJUNAS VS NINA ANSAROFF
NOTE: This fight was cancelled.
URIAH HALL VS RAFAEL NATAL
ANDREWS PREDICTION: URIAH HALL VIA TKO
WINNER: RAFAEL NATAL VIA SPLIT-DECISON (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Andrews: How many fights has Hall left in the hands of the judges now? Too many. He should have won, but it’s his own fault as he let Natal off the hook many times in the fight instead of putting him away.
#8 DONG HYUN KIM VS JOSH BURKMAN
ANDREWS PREDICTION: DONG HYUN KIM VIA UNANIMOUS DECISION
WINNER: DONG HYUN KIM VIA SUBMISSION
Andrews: Kim looked hurt in the last round, so it was smart of him to land the takedown and work the choke. Good performance by Burkman also, as he made Stun Gun earn his win.
#1 JOHN DODSON VS #9 ZACH MAKOVSKY
ANDREWS PREDICTION: JOHN DODSON VIA TKO
WINNER: JOHN DODSON VIA UNANIMOUS DECISION
Andrews: It was a close bout and Makovsky made Dodson miss by a country mile a lot of times, but Dodson’s work rate and skills pulled him through. You can’t have a highlight reel finish every fight, though he did get the slam.
JOSEPH BENAVIDEZ VS JOHN MORAGA
ANDREWS PREDICTION: JOSEPH BENAVIDEZ VIA SUBMISSION (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
WINNER: JOSEPH BENAVIDEZ VIA UNANIMOUS DECISION
Andrews: Moraga came out firing early, but it was Benavidez that eventually settled into his familiar groove of working his ground game, and looking for the guillotine. A good win for Benavidez.
#3 TRAVIS BROWNE VS #8 ANDREI ARLOVSKI
ANDREWS PREDICTION: TRAVIS BROWNE VIA TKO
WINNER: ANDREI ARLOVSKI VIA TKO
Andrews: Wow. The footwork and right hand of Arlovski continues to impress. A great win for the Pit Bull to dominate a guy like Browne like that. And he fought injured? How old is he again?
DONALD CERRONE VS JOHN MAKDESSI
ANDREWS PREDICTION: DONALD CERRONE VIA TKO
WINNER: DONALD CERRONE VIA TKO R2 4:44
Andrews: A valiant effort by Makdessi but he bit off more than he could chew. He didn’t back down though and went out on his shield.
CHRIS WEIDMAN VS #3 VITOR BELFORT
ANDREWS PREDICTION: CHRIS WEIDMAN VIA UNANIMOUS DECISION
WINNER: CHRIS WEIDMAN VIA TKO
Andrews: Weidman absorbed some classic Belfort strikes and then overwhelmed Vitor on the ground. Vitor needed to keep the fight standing, but he made a critical mistake allowing Weidman to take him down.
ANTHONY JOHNSON VS DANIEL CORMIER
ANDREWS PREDICTION: ANTHONY JOHNSON VIA TKO
WINNER: DANIEL CORMIER VIA SUBMISSION R3 2:39
Andrews: Cormier took everything Rumble dished out and then made Rumble run out of gas with his grappling. Great performance by Cormier and perhaps Johnson could have loaded up on punches and not as many kicks which allowed DC to take him down. Cormier knows Jon Jones is the real champion, so let’s see what he does to make us forget that fact.