MMA Review: #490: UFC 182: Jones vs. Cormier

-To say this one was a long-awaited show would be a total understatement, as everyone had been clamouring to see Jones vs. Cormier since their infamous pull-apart brawl at the UFC 178 press conference. That was before the fight was postponed due to a knee injury to Jones of course. If they’d done the fight then I reckon they’d have hit a million buys easily, but despite some interest drop due to the postponement everyone was still pumped by the time the fight did roll around and this felt like the biggest UFC show in a long time – even with a weaker undercard.

UFC 182: Jones vs. Cormier

Las Vegas, Nevada

-Your hosts are Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan.

Women’s Bantamweight Fight: Marion Reneau vs Alexis Dufresne

Team Quest’s Dufresne had come into the UFC with a bit of hype in the summer, but ended up looking pretty bad in a defeat to TUF’s Sarah Moras. This was her second chance and she was faced with a newcomer in Reneau, who at 37 was one of the oldest UFC debutants in some time. Due to her pre-UFC hype I was taking Dufresne, putting that first performance down to the dreaded ‘Octagon shock’.

First round and it’s mentioned right away that Dufresne missed weight badly, coming in at 138lbs. I’d totally forgotten that. Dufresne is standing way upright and Reneau tags her with some punches and a good low kick early on. Nasty counter right snaps Dufresne’s head back. She’s being tagged in every exchange here as her chin is really high while Reneau is moving nicely. Takedown attempt from Dufresne but Reneau sprawls to avoid and they wind up clinched. Good body punches from Dufresne but Reneau breaks free. Dufresne is badly busted up and she’s got blood all over her face. Nice front kick to the body and a hard leg kick from Reneau. Reneau looks excellent. Brutal leg kick connects for her. Big combo stuns Dufresne and she looks out on her feet for a second. She tries to clinch but Reneau bashes her with knees and separates. Odd move from Dufresne as she charges into the clinch only to take more knees. Vicious uppercut snaps Dufresne’s head back. Her face is a MESS. More of the same follows to end the round as Reneau continues to crack Dufresne in every exchange. 10-8 Reneau as she did so much damage.

Second round and a Reneau jab snaps Dufresne’s head back. Takedown attempt from Dufresne but Reneau stuffs it and separates with a knee. Combo from Reneau is answered by a right from Dufresne, pretty much the first one that’s landed cleanly for her in this fight. Dufresne looks horrendously slow here. Big combination hurts Dufresne again. Just zero head movement from Dufresne. Chopping leg kick connects for Reneau. Knee to the body follows and Dufresne pulls guard, but only lands in half-guard and from there Reneau postures up to land shots before standing free. Big right hand wobbles Dufresne again. More punches land for Reneau and Dufresne’s face is absolutely covered in blood again. Hard leg kick has Dufresne’s leg buckling too. Couple more leg kicks follow. Hard one-two connects for Reneau and snaps her head back again. Looks like she’s going to get out of the round though at least. Superman punch ends the round for Reneau. 10-8 again in my eyes as Dufresne had no offense.

Third round and Reneau opens up with a sharp right counterpunch. Crowd are beyond dead. Reneau still looks fresh and she continues where she left off in tagging Dufresne over and over with little in the way of any offense returned. Dufresne at least has a good chin I guess as somehow she’s taking all of these punches over and over. Really vicious combo connects for Reneau with two minutes to go but somehow Dufresne’s still standing. Corner ought to consider throwing in the towel if I’m honest but more on that later. Pair of brutal rights have her in deep trouble again and she dives for a takedown but Reneau easily stuffs it. More of the same follows until the fight comes to an end. Reneau really opens up in the last few seconds, enough to have Joe Rogan yelling for the fight to he stopped. 10-8 Reneau for a 30-24 which is crazy.

Judges have it 30-26, 30-26 and 30-25 for Marion Reneau. Nice to see the judges using 10-8’s for once. This was a totally one-sided fight and I really think Dufresne’s corner probably should’ve thrown the towel in and stopped things – I mean, you could say she’s gaining experience but I don’t think anyone needs to get beaten up like that for fifteen minutes straight. This ought to be her last fight for about a year I’d say so she can take some time off to recover and work on her stand-up which just didn’t look like it was UFC-level. Reneau looked good in her debut though and I’m interested to see where she goes from here. Not the nicest fight to watch due to the one-sided nature of it.

Welterweight Fight: Omari Akhmedov vs Mats Nilsson

Dagestan’s Akhmedov had last been seen in a loss to Gunnar Nelson – no shame in that as Gunnar is a top prospect – while Nilsson, of Sweden, had been knocked out by Luke Barnatt in his UFC debut. I tend to avoid picking against these Dagestani guys at this point so went with Akhmedov.

Round One and Nilsson pushes forward swinging. Akhmedov swings back but slips, and somehow ends up turning that into a tackle to put Nilsson on his back. Big ground-and-pound from Akhmedov and Nilsson looks hurt. He has to grip on to survive and ends up reversing to his feet into the clinch. Good shots inside for Nilsson as he muscles Akhmedov into the fence. They break off and Nilsson continues to push forward. Hard leg kick from Akhmedov. Dude looks insanely hench here too. Couple of decent counter combos connect for Akhmedov as Nilsson pushes forward. Takedown is stuffed by Nilsson who keeps on coming forward despite taking the harder shots. Nice combination from Akhmedov. Takedown attempt from Nilsson and he forces Akhmedov into the fence and gets him down. Akhmedov goes to full guard and reverses to his feet, exiting with an uppercut. Good job from the Dagestani. Big combo from Akhmedov. Takedown follows and he really drives Nilsson into the ground. Nilsson looks to squirm free right away but Akhmedov stays on him before he escapes with a minute to go. Brief exchange from the clinch is quickly broken by Nilsson. Good punches to the body from Akhmedov. Takedown attempt from Nilsson but Akhmedov works to defend it. Good takedown from the Swede with seconds to go and he ends the round on top. Close round. 10-9 Akhmedov by a whisker.

Round Two and they exchange some jabs and low kicks to begin. Akhmedov still looks like the more explosive guy but Nilsson is pushing the pace more. Nice right hand from Nilsson and Akhmedov looks like he’s cut on the forehead. Beautiful double leg from the Dagestani plants the Swede on the ground in guard though. They exchange elbows from the guard with both men landing some nice sharp shots, before Nilsson goes for an armbar. Akhmedov pulls free though and then drops back down into the guard to keep top position. Good job from Nilsson to hip escape and he stands back up. Body kick from Nilsson and it looks like Akhmedov’s slowing down a bit. Good right hand from Nilsson but Akhmedov fires back with a combo. Double leg again from Akhmedov and he puts Nilsson on his back in guard. Nice elbows from Nilsson from the bottom and he’s staying active too. Akhmedov postures up though to deliver some hard shots. Nilsson reverses to his feet and forces the Dagestani into the fence, but Akhmedov breaks quickly. Akhmedov looks busted up bad. Another takedown is successful for him though and Nilsson finds himself in guard again. Seconds to go and Akhmedov lands some ground-and-pound before defending a reversal on the buzzer. Another close one but I think Akhmedov’s takedowns won it for him so it’s 20-18 going into the third.

Round Three and the striking exchange continues with Nilsson again forcing Akhmedov to back up. He’s still firing shots but he’s much slower than he was in the opening round now. Takedown attempt from Nilsson but Akhmedov stuffs it and lands a big knee to the head. Couple more follow and he breaks off with a pair of heavy hooks. Even tired Akhmedov is still landing the heavier shots it looks like. Takedown attempt from Akhmedov is stuffed. Looked a bit telegraphed to be fair. Good counter combo from Akhmedov as Nilsson pushes forward. Takedown attempt from Nilsson and he gets it, landing on top in half-guard. Akhmedov looks exhausted now. Nilsson looks to work into side mount, but Akhmedov uses the opportunity to stand. Nilsson gets him down again though and lands in the full guard. Into half-guard for the Swede but again Akhmedov stands. Nilsson stays on him though and keeps him forced into the fence. They muscle for position and Nilsson misses a big knee. Akhmedov looks for another takedown but Nilsson works to defend and they go into a really awkward scramble on the cage with Nilsson eventually dropping for a kimura. Akhmedov powers out though and takes the back. Nilsson works back to his feet, and then he hits a sweet judo throw right into a guillotine attempt. It looks tight, but Akhmedov holds on and manages to survive to the buzzer despite being caught in a D’Arce at the end. Nilsson’s round so 29-28 Akhmedov.

All three judges have it 29-28 for Omari Akhmedov. Pretty good fight actually as both guys worked super hard and definitely left it all in the cage. Akhmedov looked really impressive early on but slowed down a lot towards the end and I think he needs to loosen up on his striking style a bit, but if he can do that then he might develop into a contender because he’s obviously ridiculously strong for 170lbs. I don’t think the future’s quite so bright for Nilsson but he should be a mainstay for the European cards for some time.

Lightweight Fight: Evan Dunham vs Rodrigo Damm

Both of these fighters had their backs to the wall following a bunch of losses, although to be fair to both they’d been losing to top competition like Donald Cerrone, Al Iaquinta and Edson Barboza. As a longtime fan of Dunham’s I thought he’d have enough aggression to take out Damm who doesn’t seem to wear punishment well at this point.

Round One and wow, Dunham looks far bigger than Damm. Like a whole weight class. Couple of punches from Damm tag Evan early but he shrugs them right off. Nice pair of left hands land for Dunham coming forward. Couple of counters land for Damm as Dunham lunges in looking to land. Quite an even exchange so far. Dunham begins to establish the jab, pegging Damm back a little. Nice combo from Dunham ends with a leg kick. Right hook lands clean for Dunham. He’s beginning to take over now with the right jab-left straight combo. Two minutes to go in the round and Damm’s almost exclusively going backwards now with Dunham landing punches coming forward. Good knee inside from Dunham. Couple of kicks land nicely for him too. Damm is struggling. Right hook lands flush for Dunham and wobbles Damm’s legs for a second but he recovers quickly. Announcers mention that Damm came to the event with NO CORNERMEN which is insane, and apparently Team Alpha Male are with him as a favour. More of the same follows for Dunham until the buzzer. Clear-cut 10-9 for Dunham.

Round Two and Dunham picks up where he left off, tagging Damm with strikes although the Brazilian tries to answer back a little more in this round. Body kick lands for Damm but Dunham makes him pay with a combination in answer. Takedown attempt from Dunham but Damm blocks it and they wind up clinched. Surprised Damm wouldn’t want to go to the ground given he’s losing on the feet. They break off and the exchange continues, before Damm has a body kick caught and eats a pair of right hands that put him down. Dunham follows into the guard, but soon decides to stand back up and forces the Brazilian to join him. More punches land cleanly for Dunham and Damm seems to have no answer at all – he seems slower than Dunham and he’s struggling to get inside the range too. More clean striking from Dunham follows until the round ends. He’s totally dominating this fight. 10-9 Dunham.

Round Three and Damm at least comes out swinging, but unsurprisingly Dunham gets the better of the early exchanges. Even the Brazilian chants seem half-hearted now as if they know their guy is probably onto a loser bar a miracle at this point. Halfway through the round and there’s honestly not much to note down really as Dunham continues to dominate the striking exchanges, taking the odd counter from Damm but not really showing any effect. Doesn’t look like Damm’s really being rocked by any of Dunham’s shots either although he’s clearly taking a ton of them. Just over a minute to go and Damm gets desperate, slapping himself in the face in an attempt to draw Dunham into a brawl. Flying knee glances for him and he’s yelling at Dunham to bring it now, but credit to Dunham – who usually DOES get drawn into brawls – he stays on the outside and continues to use his range and the stiff jab. Looks like Damm’s quite bloody too. Pair of big knees land for Dunham in the closing seconds and Damm can’t catch him. 30-27 Dunham, easy fight to score in my eyes.

Judges all have it 30-27 for Evan Dunham. Perfectly acceptable fight if one-sided – Damm just couldn’t get to grips with the range and speed of Dunham and while he never looked really hurt or on the verge of going out at any point, he certainly didn’t have any success as Dunham stuck to the gameplan for the majority of the fight and picked him apart pretty easily in the end.

Heavyweight Fight: Shawn Jordan vs Jared Cannonier

One of the hardest things to do as an MMA fan is try to pick Heavyweight fights, particularly when they involve largely unproven newcomers, as you could be dealing with an unknown killer or a guy who just isn’t on the UFC level. Cannonier was a total question mark to me and so I went with Jordan as he’s at least somewhat proven, but to see Cannonier destroy him wouldn’t have been a surprise to me at all.

Round One and Cannonier moves around a lot to begin but his hands are dangerously low for a Heavyweight. Good low kick early on for him though. Combo from Jordan and Cannonier has to cover up quickly. Jordan looks in absolutely terrible shape here, it must be said. Almost to Roy Nelson standards. Right hand connects nicely for Cannonier. He’s picking at Jordan well from the outside. Stiff right hand lands for Cannonier but Jordan shakes it off with a grin. Combo glances for the newcomer before Jordan misses with a hook kick. Combo from Cannonier but Jordan catches him with, well, SOMETHING coming in and he goes down HARD. Few shots from Jordan on the ground stiffen him up.

Replay shows it was a right hook that caught Cannonier pretty much on the top of the head that dropped him, and from there the shots on the ground sealed the deal. Cannonier actually looked good up to the finish as he seemed to be picking Jordan apart with superior speed, but you mess up once at HW and that’s all she wrote and that’s basically what happened here. Still don’t buy Jordan as a contender – for me he needs to be in far better shape – but the guy can crack for sure and that always makes for a dangerous guy in that division.

Bantamweight Fight: Cody Garbrandt vs Marcus Brimage

Team Alpha Male’s Garbrandt – a dead ringer for WWE’s Corey Graves – was making his UFC debut here after quickly racking up a 5-0 record on the smaller circuit. Opponent Brimage was coming off one of the best KO wins of 2014 – a killer head kick of Jumabieke Tuerxun – but I was leaning to Garbrandt here as the guy just looked like a badass.

Round One and they circle around at a fast pace with Brimage blocking an early head kick. Quick combo glances for Garbrandt and he catches Brimage with a short right hook too. Low blow connects for Brimage and the referee has to call time, drawing a ton of boos from the crowd. They restart and circle and a crisp combo from Garbrandt clearly hurts Brimage. Garbrandt looks incredibly confident here, dropping his hands and everything. He seems much quicker than Brimage too. Slip from Brimage puts him on his back and Garbrandt quickly pounces into the guard. Hard punches land for Garbrandt but Brimage uses the shift in weight to spring back to his feet. Good left hand lands for Brimage. High kick connects for Garbrandt and forces Brimage back. Flying knee misses for the newcomer. Nice counter for Brimage catches Garbrandt coming in. The TUF veteran follows with another low blow and it might be time for Herb Dean to take a point. Instead he lets Brimage get away with it and they restart. Seconds to go in the round now and Brimage misses with a flying attack. Good leg kick from Brimage but Garbrandt hurts him badly with a combination and has him in trouble on the buzzer. Excellent round for Cody Garbrandt and I’d go with him, 10-9.

Round Two and Garbrandt lands with a counter left in the opening exchange. Brimage closes in and looks for a flurry, but Garbrandt fires right back and we’ve got a shootout here. Both guys look pissed off too which is always interesting. Hard left hand lands for Garbrandt. Action slows down a bit as I guess neither guy wants a big adrenaline dump. Good left hand from Brimage and he blocks a head kick. Big combo connects for Garbrandt and Brimage has to cover up. Looks like the power advantage is with Garbrandt for sure. Nice low kick into a left hand from Garbrandt. He’s showing no regard for Brimage’s striking at all here. Head kick glances for him but Brimage fires back with a counter combo. Exchange continues and Garbrandt continues to land the harder, more telling shots. Good overhand right lands for Brimage though as he comes forward. Less than a minute to go now and Garbrandt misses with a flying knee but lands with a left hand. Head kick attempt causes Garbrandt to slip, but he pops right back up and they continue to trade to the buzzer. 10-9 Garbrandt.

Round Three and Brimage comes out fast, backing Garbrandt up with flurries of punches. Garbrandt still looks remarkably calm for a debutant. Nice counter left lands for him. Exchange continues and in a weird moment it sounds like Garbrandt’s corner have stolen Goldie’s mic and are doing commentary. Kick from Garbrandt is caught and Brimage takes him down, but has to lift his way out of a triangle attempt and they’re back on their feet. Neither guy really seems tired. Good body kick from Garbrandt. Combo answers for Brimage. Garbrandt is doing well in terms of avoiding a lot of Brimage’s shots though as he seems to understand the range well. 1:30 remaining and a hard left hook connects for Garbrandt. Brimage continues to push the action though and he’s really swinging. Takedown attempt from Cody is stuffed by Brimage and they break quickly. Seconds to go now and a head kick is blocked by Garbrandt. Brimage comes in swinging but gets too wild, and a SHARP COUNTER drops him! Somehow he gets back up despite looking out, but he’s OUT ON HIS FEET and he staggers back before a BRUTAL COMBO drops him for good. Wow. Incredible finish for Cody Garbrandt.

Replay shows the initial shot that dropped Brimage was a short right hook directly to the jaw, and from there the TUF veteran just wasn’t given a chance to recover. This was an action-packed fight and Garbrandt looked like the real deal to me, incredibly calm for his UFC debut with some really nasty striking power. Can’t wait to see him in there again.

Lightweight Fight: Paul Felder vs Danny Castillo

Still furious over his summer loss to Tony Ferguson – a decision I agreed with I must add – Castillo was looking to bounce back here and was initially pegged to face Rustam Khabilov, but when the Dagestani had his Visa denied, the largely unknown Felder stepped in. I’d have taken Khabilov over Castillo but Felder looked like a beatable opponent for the Californian.

Round One and Felder takes the center of the cage as Castillo circles on the outside. Early leg kick connects for Felder but Castillo avoids a head kick. Another good leg kick lands for Felder. Another one lands low though and referee Yves Lavigne has to call time to let Danny recover. They restart and Felder stuffs a takedown and lands another low kick. Chopping leg kick into a body kick follows. Felder looks really good here. Combo glances for Castillo and he follows with a body kick, but Felder stuns him with a right hand counter and then follows with another chopping leg kick. Castillo can’t seem to find his range and he’s being eaten up standing in this round. Beautiful step-in knee lands for Felder ala Donald Cerrone. Another counter knee connects to Castillo’s body. Right hand follows and lands hard. Combo glances for Castillo. Knee and another leg kick land for Felder. Right kick to the body follows. Wheel kick misses though. Felder looks incredibly smooth standing. Hook kick misses for him as does a spinning elbow on the buzzer. 10-9 Felder in a super-impressive round for him.

Round Two and Felder opens with a hard leg kick again. Body kick follows. Castillo’s starting to look gunshy now. Big right hand misses for Felder. Jab glances for Castillo. Beautiful head movement from Felder allows him to avoid a combo, and he counters with a step-in knee and a crisp combo of his own. Takedown attempt from Castillo is stuffed and Felder makes him pay with another knee. Leg kick from Felder and he’s walking Castillo down now. Nice combo lands for him coming forward. Hard leg kick from Felder. They trade leg kicks and Castillo tries to follow with a right, but Felder catches him coming forward and KNOCKS HIM CLEAN OUT WITH A SPINNING BACKFIST!~!

UNBELIEVABLE finish for Paul Felder. One of the best knockouts I’ve ever seen in fact, best spinning backfist since John Makdessi in 2011. Felder looked awesome here as he pretty much whitewashed Castillo with his striking techniques, stuffed the takedown and then finished him off in highlight reel fashion. Cannot wait to see this guy fight again. Tremendous stuff.

Welterweight Fight: Hector Lombard vs Josh Burkman

I found the matchmaking here slightly odd if I’m honest as I expected Lombard – despite a bit of a layoff – to be pushed against one of the division’s top five after he easily beat Jake Shields in his previous fight, but instead he was matched with the returning Burkman, who despite picking up a big win over Jon Fitch during his time outside the UFC had since lost to the largely unheralded Steve Carl before winning another one to set up his Octagon return. This to me looked like a one-sided fight in favour of Lombard.

Round One and right away Lombard stalks forward as Burkman circles around. Big combo from Lombard but Burkman slows him down with a heavy right and follows with a leg kick. Another combo glances for Lombard. Head kick misses for Burkman. He follows by trying the Jose Aldo springing-off-the-cage superman punch but it misses. Takedown from Lombard but Burkman springs back up and connects on a nice right hook. Combo glances for Burkman. Right hand connects for Lombard. Burkman’s not doing a bad job at all at this point though. Two leg kicks from Lombard. Uppercut glances for the Cuban in an exchange. Wheel kick misses for Burkman. This is a slow round so far. Lombard looks like he’s pacing himself. He continues to stalk forward though and lands with a combo and from there he swings wild, but Burkman fires back to stop the barrage before it can do too much damage. Takedown attempt is easily shrugged off by Lombard. Beautiful right to the body from Burkman. Nice low kick from Lombard. Burkman looks a bit tired suddenly. Left hand connects for Lombard. Round peters out on the feet. Largely even but Lombard was the aggressor so I’d go 10-9 Lombard.

Round Two and Burkman misses with a wild overhand right. Lombard again begins to stalk forward and despite taking a body kick he lands with a stiff right hook. Big combo backs Burkman up and has him seemingly hurt, but he fires back well and stops Lombard’s onslaught again. Counter left lands for Burkman but Lombard comes wading in with another heavy combo that has him hurt. Burkman goes down for a second but it looked more like a slip to me. He comes back up quickly and they clinch, but Lombard breaks with another brutal combo ending in an uppercut. To his credit Burkman’s taking the shots well and firing back but he’s clearly on the wrong end of these exchanges. He’s taking some deep breaths too. Body kick from Burkman but Lombard walks through it. Nice pair of lefts from Lombard and Burkman looks hurt again. His face is badly bloodied up too. Body kick answers for Burkman but he’s dropping his hands now. Dude is GASSED. Lombard though doesn’t look tired at all and he continues to walk the TUF veteran down. Another nice combo lands for him. Burkman has a hell of a chin. He drops his hands and so Lombard hits him with a body kick. Crowd pop for Burkman’s taunting but it’s not helping him. 1:30 to go and a big left hook is followed by a right to the temple. Burkman takes it LIKE A MAN again. Left hand lands for Lombard and you have to question how the fuck Burkman is taking these shots. His beard is literally covered in blood now. Seconds to go and Burkman’s taunting again but Lombard won’t bite and he ends the round with another big left. 10-9 Lombard.

Round Three and Burkman tries to clinch, but Lombard shrugs him off and takes him down easily, landing in half-guard. Burkman holds on as Lombard tries to force his way into a dominant position, but he isn’t really doing much damage. Side mount for Lombard and he begins to drop some punches. Scramble from Burkman allows him to stand, but Lombard quickly grabs a rear waistlock. Good job from Burkman to turn into him and they break off. Back to stalking for Lombard and he lands a vicious leg kick that sets up a right hook. Nasty combo has Burkman all over the place and he outright runs away at one point but he’s still standing somehow. This guy’s chin is tremendous. Clear low blow follows but Burkman shrugs it off somehow and continues. Wild trade follows as Lombard lands again but somehow Burkman fires back from the pocket. Hard left hand lands for Lombard and he’s got Burkman hurt again. He’s literally got his back to the cage now and he’s exhausted. Less than a minute to go now and another leg kick lands for Lombard. Looks like Burkman just wants to survive the distance. Round ends with a flurry from Burkman before Lombard rocks his world again with a left hand. Got to be 30-27 for Hector Lombard.

Judges indeed have it 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 for Hector Lombard. How someone could give Burkman a round there I do not know. Dominant performance from Lombard but unfortunately (some would say unsurprisingly looking at the guy) he pissed hot for steroids in the post-fight drug test and is now serving a suspension. How well he’ll perform when he comes back assuming he’s clean by then I don’t know given his age and career length, so I’d call him a massive question mark in the division. Fight was sort of dull too as Lombard just couldn’t put Burkman away even when he was gassed in the second round. I mean you have to give Burkman credit for taking so many shots but even so, it wasn’t a great fight.

Flyweight Fight: Kyoji Horiguchi vs Louis Gaudinot

Interesting fight here as – suspension for diuretics notwithstanding – Gaudinot was probably the biggest test to date for the Japanese prospect Horiguchi, who had previously knocked out Jon Delos Reyes in brutal fashion. Despite Gaudinot’s pedigree – dude is underrated and a win over John Lineker is nothing to sneeze at – I was taking Horiguchi here as the guy just looked like the more explosive fighter.

First round and both fighters show a ton of movement early on, but nobody makes the first move in the first thirty seconds. Leg kick connects for Horiguchi but Gaudinot returns one right away. Glancing left hand connects for Horiguchi but Gaudinot comes back with a low kick that almost takes the Japanese fighter off his feet. Not much action so far to be honest as we’re approaching halfway through the round. Heavy kick to the body from Horiguchi is just about blocked by Gaudinot. Flying knee glances for the Japanese fighter too. Right hook glances for Gaudinot. Beautiful low kick from the TUF veteran. Front kick to the body from Horiguchi. Big combo glances for Gaudinot as both men are doing a good job of just getting out of range of the other’s strikes. Chopping leg kick from Horiguchi but Gaudinot comes back with a counter that backs him up. Body kick from Gaudinot. Another front kick lands for Horiguchi. Nice body kick follows. Left glances for Gaudinot and they clinch with Horiguchi muscling him into the fence. Takedown attempt from the Japanese fighter and he gets Gaudinot down, but Louis immediately pops up. Round ends as the clinch breaks. 10-10 round for me as it was dead even.

Second round and they trade leg kicks to begin. Big right hand from Horiguchi stiffens Gaudinot’s legs up and he follows with a flying knee that doesn’t land cleanly. Good recovery from Gaudinot though and he seems okay. Body kick from Horiguchi lands low and Herb Dean has to call time. They restart quickly and Horiguchi clocks him with a quick one-two again. Trip attempt is blocked by Gaudinot and he jumps into a standing arm triangle attempt, but he can’t lock it up and Horiguchi forces him into the fence. The Japanese fighter looks for a trip again but still can’t get Gaudinot off his feet. Right hand breaks for Horiguchi. Lot of movement from Horiguchi here. Another combo wobbles Gaudinot and he takes a kick to the arms to follow. Another beautiful combo lands for Horiguchi but Gaudinot comes back with a low kick. Brutally fast combo has Gaudinot in trouble but he does well to get out of danger again. He’s looking busted up though. Another combo lands and finishes with a head kick for Horiguchi. Body kick lands cleanly for the Japanese fighter. Seconds to go and Horiguchi catches a kick and trips Gaudinot down, ending the round with hammer fists. 10-9 Horiguchi – he eased into another gear and Gaudinot couldn’t keep up in that round.

Round Three and Gaudinot comes out more aggressively and clips Horiguchi with a right hand while he’s off balance. Horiguchi seems fine though and comes back with a body kick. Horiguchi seems to be moving at a different speed to Gaudinot at the minute. Nice combination from Horiguchi. Leg kick answers for Gaudinot. Head kick from Horiguchi. Gaudinot evidently has a great chin to take all this. Lunging left hook into a right hand connect for Horiguchi and he follows with a quick counter left. Pair of low kicks from Gaudinot but he takes a left hand in response and then eats a quick flurry too. Two minutes to go and Horiguchi lands with a body kick. Clinch from Gaudinot but Horiguchi throws him off. Gaudinot is air swinging a lot of the time due to the speed of Horiguchi. Just over a minute to go and Gaudinot jumps into a guillotine attempt after ducking a shot, but Horiguchi easily slips free and they wind up clinched. Crowd sound a little restless now. Thirty seconds to go and they break off, and Gaudinot misses with a wild spinning backfist attempt. Nice counter right from Horiguchi. Gaudinot keeps swinging but he can’t catch him and that’s the fight. I have it 30-28 for Kyoji Horiguchi.

Official scores are 29-28, 30-27 and 30-27 for Kyoji Horiguchi. This was a decent fight if nothing special as neither man came close to a finish at any point. The first round was close but it looked like Gaudinot lost a bit of speed in the final two rounds while Horiguchi simply picked up the pace and was able to use his quick movement to pick the TUF fighter apart. In a way it was another example of why the Flyweight division for the most part (outside of wild John Lineker brawls) doesn’t appeal to the casual fan as it was a fight full of action, but only if you know how to look if that makes sense.

Middleweight Fight: Brad Tavares vs Nate Marquardt

This one didn’t really pique my interest if I’m honest as Tavares – despite a bunch of impressive wins over solid opponents – just doesn’t have the best style to watch while Marquardt to me despite an armbar win over James Te Huna was probably a shot fighter. This looked like another win for Tavares but in my eyes it was also likely to be a dull fight.

Round One and Tavares backs Nate up early with some strikes and shrugs off a clinch attempt quite easily too. Pair of left hands and a body kick glance for Tavares. Nate comes back with an inside leg kick but for the most part right now it’s a lot of feinting from both men. Really nice combo into a leg kick from Tavares. Maybe he watched Marquardt vs. Saffiedine in StrikeForce. Halfway through the round and the crowd are beginning to get restless. Quick flurry from Tavares and Nate looks hurt, but he comes back with a knee and circles out to recover. Front kick to the face follows for the former StrikeForce champ but Brad cracks him with a right hand counter when he rushes in. Couple more combos back Nate up as the crowd begin to boo. Round ends with more of the same with Tavares backing Marquardt up, ending the round with his own front kick. Crap round. 10-9 Tavares as he was slightly more active.

Round Two and Tavares opens with a counter right hook. Marquardt appears to have some blood around his nose. Body kick from Tavares is caught, but he manages to stuff the following takedown attempt. Right-left combo from Tavares. Couple more leg kicks follow. Clinch from Nate but he eats a right hand on his way in and Tavares manages to block a trip before breaking off. Sharp counter right connects for Marquardt as Tavares lunges in. Takedown attempt from Marquardt is defended well by Tavares who uses a whizzer to throw Nate before popping back up into the clinch. Man this is a dull fight. One minute to go and Nate still can’t get Tavares off his feet. Dude always has had good takedown defense apart from the Yoel Romero fight which is excusable. Nice right hook inside from Tavares as he works again to stop the takedown. Seconds to go and they break off. Tavares is really working his jab nicely in this round. Buzzer goes as he glances on a high kick. Crowd are booing openly now. 10-9 Tavares.

Round Three and Tavares opens with a quick combo. Marquardt’s movement looks fucked now and his left leg is badly marked up from the kicks. Clinch attempt from Nate and again he tries to muscle the Hawaiian down, throwing in a hard knee this time for good measure, but he still can’t get Tavares off his feet. Crowd boo loudly again until Yves Lavigne calls a clean break. Combo and a chopping leg kick from Tavares and he’s eating Nate up on the feet here. Another takedown is easily stuffed by Tavares and he comes back with a combo. Good knees from the clinch from Nate but Tavares separates with a hard right hand. Head kick glances for the Hawaiian. Another one follows too. Nate’s face is all busted up from the combos and jabs now. Brutal leg kick from Tavares. More of the same follows and Nate looks stunned from a combo with seconds to go. He survives though despite a late flurry from Tavares. 30-27 shutout for me.

Judges all have it 30-27 for Brad Tavares. Nothing wrong with this technically as Tavares used superior striking and movement to pick Nate apart for three rounds, but it was dull if I’m honest as he never came close to putting Marquardt away or anything. Marquardt appeared to be moving pretty slowly from the start though and I think another loss and it’ll probably be time for him to hang it up. Hey, he’s pushing 40 and has had a fantastic career, no shame in stopping now.

Lightweight Fight: Donald Cerrone vs Myles Jury

Not the most exciting-sounding opponent for Cowboy then but to be fair after crushing guys like Diego Sanchez and Takanori Gomi, Jury was clearly due a step up in competition and if Cowboy was willing to take the fight then good for him. Despite Jury’s win streak (ignoring his TUF loss to Al Iaquinta he was undefeated coming into this) Cowboy looked like a step too far for him in my opinion and after facing Jim Miller and Eddie Alvarez in his last two and looking phenomenal both times I thought Cerrone would cut through Myles en route to a title shot.

Fight begins and Jury shows a lot of movement as Cowboy stalks forward. Trip takedown from Jury but Cerrone instantly rolls into an oma plata attempt. Jury kneels up and looks very calm, but this looks like a pretty dangerous position for him. Myles tries to shake him off to no avail. Cowboy manages to flatten him down, and in an attempt to escape Jury has to sacrifice the position and winds up on the bottom underneath side mount. Cerrone works and takes the back next, slapping on a body triangle for good measure. Fantastic grappling from Cowboy. Jury again looks calm but no doubt he’s in deep trouble here. Cowboy works for the choke but Jury does a good job of defending. He doesn’t look like he can get out of the position though at all. Looks like the choke might be sunk as Jury tries to escape, but somehow he hangs tough and peels the hands off. Seconds remaining in the round and it looks like Jury’s going to survive. Cerrone ends the round with some short punches before attempting an armbar on the buzzer. Clear 10-8 for Cowboy as Jury got absolutely owned on the ground.

Into the 2nd and Jury throws a couple of leg kicks in the opening seconds. Big chant for Cowboy from the crowd. Takedown attempt from Jury is stuffed easily. Cowboy continues to stalk forward and glances with a long right hand. Nasty leg kick from Cerrone. Jury looks a little gunshy, coming up short on the majority of his strikes. Spinning backfist misses by miles. To be fair Cerrone hasn’t quite connected in this round yet either. Leg kick from Cowboy. Two minutes to go and this has been a surprisingly dull round actually. Nice low kick from Cerrone. Another one follows to the inside of the right leg. Body kick answers for Jury. Low kick from Cerrone and he avoids a takedown. Cerrone’s really beginning to back Myles up now. Hard right hand connects for him. Beautiful trademark step-in knee from Cowboy. Round ends on the feet and Cowboy looks pissed off. 10-9 Cowboy.

Third and final round and Cowboy comes out guns blazing. Good combo by Jury but Cerrone walks right through it and keeps the pressure on with a leg kick. Body kick from Myles. Glancing head kick from Cerrone. Dude looks fuming now. Spinning backfist misses for Jury. Nasty leg kick from Cowboy. They trade leg kicks and Cerrone clearly lands the harder ones. Takedown attempt from Jury off a caught leg kick, and he forces Cowboy into the fence. They grapple along the cage with Cerrone defending using an underhook, and he manages to break free with a right hand. NASTY right head kick from Cowboy has Jury rocked and he follows in with a knee. Takedown attempt from Jury but Cerrone easily defends. Jury is in trouble now and Cowboy walks him down and backs him into the fence. Myles is pretty much running away now. Good right to the body from Cowboy. Chopping leg kick follows. Takedown attempt again from Jury is defended and Cerrone clocks him with a combo as he breaks. Another pair of leg kicks land and Jury has to run away again. Another one lands and Jury dives on the leg, but still can’t get Cerrone down. This time he drops to deliver some elbows, and Jury drops to the butt-scoot position before Big John McCarthy calls him back up. Cowboy forces him back again with more kicks. Another takedown attempt is defended and Jury looks bewildered. Takedown attempt from Cerrone now and he ends up just tossing Jury down like a child. Jury stays down and from there Cowboy BRUTALLY ASSAULTS his legs with some nasty kicks. Jesus those kicks looked vicious. 10-9 Cerrone for a clear-cut victory. Cerrone looked furious at the end with those kicks.

Official scores are all 30-27 for Cowboy Cerrone. Ridiculous that he didn’t get one 10-8 in the first but whatever. Not Cowboy’s most exciting performance actually but a lot of that came from Jury’s gameplan as I think getting tooled on the ground in the first round had him really spooked and from there he just wasn’t sure what to do and it lead him into an ultra-defensive showing. This was a great example of a step too far for a young fighter as while Jury looked great against Sanchez and Gomi, Cerrone might be the best fighter in the world right now at 155lbs and he was clearly out of Jury’s league. Those kicks at the end were absolutely insane. And hey, even in a lesser performance like this one, Cowboy remains one of the best fighters to watch in the entire sport.

UFC World Light-Heavyweight Title: Jon Jones vs Daniel Cormier

This was probably the biggest UFC fight since December 2013’s Silva/Weidman rematch, and you could argue I think that it was bigger than that even and was probably the biggest since Silva/Sonnen II in 2012 or perhaps GSP/Diaz in 2013. Whatever – literally EVERY MMA fan on the planet wanted to see this fight as not only were Jones and Cormier the consensus two best 205lbers alive, but they HATED each other, to the point of course where they’d brawled at the press conference, Tyson/Lewis style. The fan favourite was clearly Cormier as if we’re honest it’s been hard to root for Jones for a long time now (even against perennial villain Chael!) but I thought the champ would probably come out on top – Cormier was the best wrestler he’d ever faced but traditionally he’d dealt well with any wrestlers, and I worried about how Cormier would deal with the range and reach of Jonny Bones.

Round One and the crowd heat is AMAZING. Couple of kicks early from Jones and he tries to stay on the outside as Cormier looks to close in on him. Knee connects from close range for the champ and he manages to back out of range. Wild right hand misses for Cormier and Jones glances on a head kick. He’s really using his reach to try to shove Cormier away as he tries to clinch. Uppercut glances for Cormier in a brief exchange but Jones lands with a left elbow as he tries to clinch. Body kick from Cormier but Jones catches it and trips him down, taking the back. DC immediately works back to his feet but Jones stays on him and forces him into the fence with a rear waistlock. Cormier turns into him and they separate. Oblique kick and a pair of left elbows from Jones. Takedown attempt follows but Cormier stuffs it and they break off. Good uppercut from DC. Crowd are firmly behind the challenger here. Jones is doing a good job of dictating the range thus far though and he lands with a long left hand. Into the clinch and Jones counters DC’s dirty boxing with a heavy knee. They break and Cormier connects on a combo that forces Jones to back up a bit. Beautiful Cerrone-style knee to the body from Jones. Left to the body follows. Jones’s use of range is fantastic. Inside leg kick into a glancing left hook from Cormier. Oblique kick answers for Jones. One minute to go now and Jones continues to peck at him from range. Cormier’s swinging but Jones is staying just out of range. Good uppercut does land for DC when Jones clinches though. Seconds to go and Cormier lands with a quick combo. Body kick answers for Jones but a flying knee misses. Combo ends the round for the challenger. Close-ish round but Jones takes it for the use of range to land the better shots. 10-9 Jones.

Round Two and Jones opens with a body kick and a low kick. Cormier continues to push forward but takes another kick to the body. Good combo from DC though. Body kick from Jones is caught but he stuffs a takedown and looks to lock up a guillotine, but DC pulls his head free and separates. He’s still trying to walk through the kicks and long punches and he’s struggling. Right hand connects over the top though and Jones has to clinch. Shoulder strike from Jones as he muscles Cormier into the fence. DC goes for a guillotine of his own but Jones easily avoids it. They break off and Jones glances on a head kick. Nice combo from Cormier as Jones tries to clinch. Another combo lands as does a kick to the body and Jones clinches. Pair of elbows land inside for the challenger but Jones answers with a knee. Left hand breaks for Cormier and they clinch again with DC working him over with some dirty boxing. Awesome counter uppercut from Cormier as Jones clinches and he follows with some more shots. Jones keeps looking for the shoulder wrench he hit on Glover Teixeira but Cormier’s avoiding it. More dirty boxing lands for DC. Head kick and nasty left elbow land for Jones as they separate but Cormier comes back with his own kick that leads to the clinch again. One minute to go and Cormier throws Jones out of the clinch and then catches him with some more nice dirty boxing. Right hand inside lands for Cormier but Jones comes back with a combo. Another clinch follows and Cormier stuns Jones with a combo on the buzzer. Much better round for Cormier. 10-9 to even things up.

Round Three and Jones jabs out with the oblique kicks and misses with a pair of head kicks. Nice body kick from Cormier but Jones fires back with a jab and one of his own. Nice leg kick from Jones. Left hand into a big combo from Cormier and Jones has to cover up and back out. Inside leg kick fires back for Jones and he follows with a side kick to the neck and a left to the body. Cormier walks him down some more and lands with a stiff jab, but as he follows in he takes a BLATANT eye poke. That’s shitty. Herb Dean calls time and honestly he ought to take a point as it looked intentional to me. Even if it wasn’t to be fair they HAVE to crack down on guys posting out with an open hand to gauge distance. Especially Jones as he does it all the time. They restart though and Jones lands with a heavy body kick. Takedown attempt follows but Cormier stuffs it and goes for his own single leg. SICK takedown defense from Jones though and he remains on his feet. He does take some dirty boxing shots from the clinch though. Jones turns him around and chops him with a left elbow, but DC breaks off. Uppercut-elbow ala Anderson Silva glances for Jones and sets up the clinch. Good knee inside from Jones and he lands with an elbow too, but DC responds with one of his own and snaps the champ’s head back with an uppercut from the clinch. Another takedown is shrugged off by Jones though. Head kick glances for Jones and a big combo connects for him. Back to the clinch and DC lands to the body and head with more uppercuts. Sick knee to the body from Jones and he lands with a couple more short elbows too. Last minute of the round and DC lands with a right hook. Left hand and a knee to the body answer for Jones. Right hand and an uppercut from Cormier. This is a very close round. They continue to exchange from the clinch and Jones misses a flying knee and takes a combo from the challenger. Shoulder strike from the clinch for Jones. Weird moment follows as Jones jumps to guard (!) and takes some shots on the buzzer. Can’t split that round at all so 10-10. 29-29 going into the fourth!

Round Four and Cormier stalks forward, but Jones uses his kicks to keep distance and lands with a left to the body. Another one connects for the champ and a head kick is just about blocked by Cormier. Into the clinch and Jones works inside with elbows and knees, then muscles DC into the fence. Takedown follows and DC gets DUMPED TO THE GROUND. He pops right back up but that was emphatic. Jones keeps him against the fence and takes him down AGAIN much to the horror of the crowd. This time he keeps Cormier down and looks to work in a possible guillotine. Cormier looks a bit stuck here but he manages to work to his feet despite taking some punches. Slashing elbow lands for Jones as they stand vertical. Cormier can’t shake him off. Action slows down now as Jones keeps him pinned into the fence. Good combination inside for Jones and it looks like Cormier might well be out of steam here. Nice elbow breaks for Jones. Cormier evidently isn’t out of steam as he pushes forward with a furious pace, but he can’t seem to get inside the reach of Jones. Good leg kick lands for the challenger though. Jones clinches him again and the pace slows a little once more, but again Jones lands the best shot with a knee. Jones breaks and Cormier throws some punches to set up another clinch, but he can’t get much off at all. Round comes to an end with a takedown for Jones from inside the clinch. Big round for Jon Jones; 10-9.

Round Five and this fight seems to be slipping further and further away from Cormier’s grasp now. Head kick opens the round for Jones but DC fires back with a combo that sets up the clinch. Takedown attempt but Jones defends it excellently again. Shoulder shrug lands for Jones and he forces Cormier back into the fence. Jones continues to control him from the clinch, showing incredible strength as it doesn’t look like Cormier’s gassed actually. Good punches inside from Jones and he drops for a takedown. Action slows down as DC defends, and the crowd begin to boo for the first time in the fight. They exchange short knees inside and then Jones snakes onto Cormier’s back, but DC quickly escapes back into the clinch. Two minutes to go and it just looks like Jones is able to overpower the challenger in the clinch. Nice elbow inside from Jones. Cormier tries desperately to get him down but he can’t get the champ off his feet. Jones again muscles him into the fence. Just over a minute to go now and it’s looking firmly like Jones’s fight. Cormier drops deep for a single leg but he eats a vicious elbow to the side of the body for his troubles. Finally he gets Jones elevated and slams him down, but Jones springs right back up like a cat. That was reminiscent of BJ Penn in his prime with the defense. Spinning elbow from the clinch lands for Jones. Cormier again looks to take him down but with seconds to go it won’t be enough. Jones defends by using a headlock and they trade on the buzzer before Jones gives him a CROTCH CHOP, embracing his role as the bad guy. 10-9 Jones for a 49-47 win.

Official scores are 49-46 all round for Jon Jones to defend in another pretty incredible performance. This was actually a more interesting fight to watch on a second viewing for a few reasons. Firstly, I thought originally that the eye poke shifted the momentum towards Jones, but on this viewing that wasn’t really the case. Early on it looked like Cormier couldn’t get inside Jones’s reach but in the second round he certainly did that, landed the better shots both inside and from distance and he had no problems getting to the clinch which is usually his wheelhouse. A few people tried to claim he gassed too but again that wasn’t the case – the problem for DC seemed to be that Jones was quite simply the stronger, more powerful fighter as he was able to outmuscle Cormier inside the clinch and got those takedowns in the fourth while Cormier couldn’t get him down at all. I think he could beat Jones in a rematch but if he wants to do that it’s time for some serious strength and conditioning stuff – probably a bunch of powerlifting and Olympic lifting in fact – to be able to deal with Jones inside the clinch next time.

Post-fight Jones totally heels out with a shady promo and of course how can I write this without mentioning all the issues we’ve had since – post-fight it came out that Jones had failed a pre-fight test for COCAINE of all things and then after that – as well as the world’s shortest stint in rehab – comes the whole hit-and-run debacle that looks like it could well land Jones behind bars for a while. I thought with his attitude that he could become MMA’s Mayweather (in a bad way) but instead it looks like he may well be going down the Mike Tyson route instead which is just sad. I don’t like the guy at all but I definitely want to see him continue fighting because he’s an insane talent. In terms of fight quality unless you were heavily emotionally invested in Cormier winning (I wanted him to win but wasn’t massively upset when he lost) then this was a fantastic fight and a fantastic main event.

-Not even time for a highlight reel as the PPV was running long. We’re outta here.

Final Thoughts….

Outside of the main event and a trio of cool knockouts (Felder, Jordan, Garbrandt) on the prelims this was a massive letdown as a show. The main card in particular dragged like hell and while none of the fights were offensively bad, they were all forgettable and we didn’t get one finish in five fights. Main event is worth a look as Cormier pushed Jones more than anyone not named Gustafsson but skip over the rest. Thumbs down for UFC 182.

Best Fight: Jones vs. Cormier
Worst Fight: Tavares vs. Marquardt

Overall Rating: *

Until next time,

Scott Newman: