MMA Review: #521: UFC 192: Cormier vs. Gustafsson

-A quick return to Texas after March’s UFC 185, initially this one looked like one of the best cards of the entire year with top-level talent up and down the show and a double main event of Daniel Cormier vs. Alexander Gustafsson for the LHW title and a WW title eliminator between bitter rivals Johny Hendricks and Tyron Woodley. The injury bug sort-of struck though as Hendricks had to withdraw due to weight cutting issues, and so Rashad Evans vs. Ryan Bader was bumped into the co-main slot. Card remained solid though with great-sounding fights like Pena-Eye, Bagautinov-Benavidez and Magomedov-Jordan rounding it out.

UFC 192: Cormier vs. Gustafsson

Houston, Texas

-Your hosts are Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan.

Women’s Bantamweight Fight: Julianna Pena vs Jessica Eye

This one sounded like a really great fight and a pivotal one to the division as Eye had lost in a supposed title eliminator to Miesha Tate in July, but was still largely near the top of the division, while TUF 18’s winner Pena had made an impressive comeback from her horrid knee injury with a win over Milana Dudieva in April and was looking to make a statement to put her into title contention. This was a fight I could’ve seen going either way, but I ended up going with Pena feeling she was the bigger, stronger fighter and could use that to her advantage.

Fight begins and Eye opens with a leg kick and then tags Pena with a quick combination. Pena keeps pushing forward swinging though and manages to get a clinch. She looks for a trip right away but Eye blocks. Pena decides to pull guard, but ends up in half-guard instead and they spin around on the ground with Pena looking for a sweep. Reversal from Pena and they stand, but Eye looks to grab onto a guillotine. Nice knee inside lands for Jessica. Pena escapes the guillotine and forces her into the fence, landing a knee of her own. Crowd begin to boo a little as they jockey for position, before Pena hits a trip takedown. Eye looks to reverse and almost takes the back, but Pena avoids it and drops some punches before Eye explodes to her feet. They remain clinched and Pena tries to trip her down again, but this time Jessica blocks it. She takes a couple of knees to the body though. This is a hard pace for an opening round, especially in the clinch. They continue to exchange short punches and knees before Pena manages to get a bodylock and force her down into side mount. Elbows begin to land for Julianna but she isn’t doing that much damage just yet. Seconds to go and Eye rolls and almost give up a guillotine, but Pena instead spins to take the back on the buzzer. Close round but probably 10-9 Pena for the late ground work.

Into the 2nd and they exchange some strikes before Pena really opens up with a combo that leads to the clinch. Elbow breaks for Eye but Pena comes back with a head kick and a flurry. Eye fires back but Pena throws another kick, only for Eye to catch it and hit a takedown to half-guard. Julianna looks to lock up the left arm for a possible kimura, but Eye’s doing a good job of landing shots to the body at the same time. Nice pass from Eye to get into side mount, and Pena rolls, giving her back. Eye holds her with a waistlock and then slips the hooks in as she rolls, but Julianna shakes off one of them. Eye spins and stays on top though and she’s got an arm triangle sunk in. She’s in half-guard though which appears to be saving Pena along with the phone-answering technique. Pena manages to escape from it, but she’s still on her back. Elbows to the body connect for Eye but Pena scrambles from underneath, only to give her back again. This time Eye rolls into a crucifix, but Pena spins free and now she’s in side mount. Eye starts throwing knees from underneath, but one lands to the side of the head ala Frank Shamrock on Renzo Gracie. Pena seems fine but the referee calls a stand-up and then inexplicably takes a point too. Joe Rogan is FURIOUS about the whole deal and rightfully so, that’s some shitty refereeing right there. They restart with seconds to go, and both girls swing for the fences until the buzzer with Eye absolutely TAGGING Julianna with a right hand. Eye’s round but with the point deduction it’s a 9-9.

Third and final round and they trade some strikes and this time Pena tags Eye with a wild right hand before shooting and tripping her to guard. Pena’s striking style is reminiscent of Diego Sanchez with the chasing forward with wild strikes. Julianna works to pass but she’s not doing too much damage from here. She does get into side mount, but Eye tries an inverted triangle from the bottom. She doesn’t have it correctly positioned though as Pena’s arm isn’t quite caught. Pena manages to work free, and she shrugs the legs off and then takes the back. One hook in for Pena and she looks to work the second one in while also locking up a choke! Eye is in trouble and she winces, but somehow guts it out and rolls over to escape! Crowd go crazy for that. Half-guard now for Eye but Pena postures up to deliver some hard shots from the top. Eye does a good job to move back to full guard though. Just over a minute to go and Julianna works to pass again, but Eye throws up a triangle attempt. Pena avoids and passes into half-guard again and from there it looks like she might be locking up a neck crank variant. It looks like a pretty nasty hold, but she can’t quite free her leg from half-guard and the round ends there. Pena’s round so it’d be 29-27 for her overall.

All three judges have it 29-27 for Julianna Pena. Good job the judges were better than the ref here or God knows what could’ve happened! I thought this was a really great fight – both women pushed a hard pace and the ground exchanges especially were fantastic, with Pena just about outworking Eye in the end and earning a hard-fought decision. Based on the fact that she’s shown really no issues with her knee since returning I think she’s a legit title contender but she needs to brush up on that striking because a sharper striker might be able to tag her badly. Post-fight she calls out Ronda Rousey but with what’s happened since I don’t see that coming soon – maybe a fight with Amanda Nunes or Cat Zingano would work?

Flyweight Fight: Ali Bagautinov vs Joseph Benavidez

This one was originally set for the prelims but got bumped onto the main card when Hendricks/Woodley went down. A battle of two former title challengers, Bagautinov was making his return from a suspension for EPO (!) while Benavidez had last taken a tough decision over John Moraga. Close fight to call but I was leaning slightly to Benavidez. And for the record, with Ted Nugent’s Stranglehold Benavidez still has probably the most badass walkout track in the UFC.

Round One begins and Ali takes the center of the cage as Benavidez circles on the outside. Ali has this absolutely horrific mullet going on here, really bad stuff. Flurry glances for Benavidez. Big right hand follows for the Alpha Male fighter. Quick left lands for Benavidez and he dodges a big haymaker from the Dagestani. Decent counter right connects for Ali in a brief exchange. Both guys continue to circle and largely miss with their shots. Couple of body kicks glance for Benavidez. Nice leg kick from Ali. Takedown attempt is blocked by Ali and he catches Benavidez on the way out with a short left uppercut. Benavidez is cut open over the left eye. Left hands land for both men and then a heavy right connects for Bagautinov. Takedown is avoided well by Ali. Benavidez seems to be bothered by the cut eye. Big head kick misses for him. Nice counter right hand from Bagautinov. Round ends with both men throwing punches after the buzzer. Close round but probably 10-9 Benavidez. Could’ve gone either way really.

Round Two and Benavidez opens with a sharp leg kick. Both men miss with some big punches and then Benavidez lands cleanly with a straight right. Another nice right hand follows. Head kick is blocked by Benavidez and he responds with a body kick. Nice leg kick answers for Ali. Big left hand lands for Benavidez but Ali counters with a right that has him checking his nose. Hard body kick from Benavidez. It’s a low output so far but these guys are hitting HARD for 125lbers. Couple more kicks land for Benavidez. Big overhand right glances for Ali and he follows with a left hook. Some mild boos come from the crowd now as I guess they’re wanting more action. Quick combo from Ali ends with a left hand. Another two hooks land for Ali. He seems to have found his range late in this round. Takedown attempt from Benavidez leads to a clipping right hand. Takedown from Bagautinov though and he lands some glancing rights as Joseph pops up to his feet. Seconds to go and Bagautinov counters a kick with a right that drops Benavidez, but he pops right back up instantly. Round ends there. 10-9 Bagautinov to even things up.

Round Three and a sneaky right hand connects for Bagautinov. Lunging right glances for Benavidez as Rogan and Goldie debate the benefits of EPO. Good punches land for Ali in a pretty wild exchange for a second. Kick glances for Benavidez and he gets taken down again only to pop back up. Right hand lands hard for Benavidez. Both guys miss with a bunch of strikes, causing some boos again to go along with a small chant for Benavidez. Good knee from him catches Ali as he leaves his head out a bit. He’s just about outstriking Ali in this round. Crowd are furious now as both keep missing shots. 1:30 to go. Nice step-in right hand lands for Benavidez and he narrowly misses a head kick. Counter right glances for Bagautinov but he’s not done enough in this round for me. Takedown does follow for him but Benavidez rolls to his feet. Ali gets a rear waistlock to attempt a suplex but Benavidez escapes. Seconds remaining and Benavidez glances with a right hand. Kick follows and this time he avoids the reactive takedown and they swing wild to end the fight. 10-9 Benavidez for a 29-28 but I could see any score as it was such a close one.

Judges score it 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 for Joseph Benavidez. Crowd do NOT sound happy with that at all which I don’t get, but I guess they were down on the fight throughout really. Not a bad fight per say as they worked hard and went for it, but neither man really found their range or landed anything massively heavy and it did make for some dull moments. Not enough to warrant such vicious boos, but yeah. Benavidez gets some further boos when he tells the crowd “you try fighting this guy”, but he’s right I guess!

Heavyweight Fight: Ruslan Magomedov vs Shawn Jordan

I was really interested in this one because HW is an odd division with very few prospects at the minute and even the prospects have looked bad at times (Duffee, Rosholt etc) but Magomedov seemed to be the exception, as he was bringing in a 13-1 record and had looked good in his two UFC fights, and before that he’d beaten two former UFC champions in Ricco Rodriguez and Tim Sylvia. The knock on him was a lack of KO power but I mean, that often comes later in a career with more experience. His opponent Jordan was coming off a hook kick KO (!) of Derrick Lewis but being a larger, slower guy I thought he was a beatable foe for Magomedov and one the Dagestani could look good against, too.

Round One and Magomedov glances with a right head kick as Jordan stalks forward. Lunging left hand from Jordan but Magomedov circles out of the way. Another head kick glances for the Dagestani. Low kick into two right hands from Magomedov but Jordan clinches and forces him into the fence. They exchange some knees to the legs as the pace slows down, and then Jordan attempts a takedown. Magomedov tries to fight it off but Jordan forces him to the ground and then grapevines the legs to keep him there. This is an impatient crowd as they’re booing already. Ruslan begins to work his way back to his feet, but Jordan stays on him and gets him back down. Good job from Magomedov to reverse to his feet for a second but again Jordan forces him back down. He’s doing nothing with the position, though. Two minutes to go and Magomedov again gets up and looks to lock up a kimura on the left arm. He uses it to escape from the fence in a nice move. Jordan backs him up again and swings wild, but Magomedov gets out of the way. Good low kick from Jordan. Head kick glances again for Magomedov and he follows with a sharp combo. Big left misses for Jordan and Magomedov makes him pay with a hard right hand counter. Round ends shortly after. 10-9 Magomedov in a close one.

Round Two and Jordan pushes forward, but he eats a question mark kick. He tries to fire back but Magomedov’s got the faster hands and he’s got Jordan hurt with a heavy combination! Jordan has to back up quickly and he seems okay. Big shots land for Jordan coming forward and he follows with a takedown attempt, but Magomedov blocks a trip and they wind up clinched. Nice combo breaks for Magomedov. Jordan keeps stalking forward, but Magomedov tags him with some quick punches again. Takedown attempt from Jordan and he almost muscles Ruslan to the ground, but the Dagestani defends well and remains on his feet. Good uppercut from Magomedov and he separates with a left head kick that appears to affect the right eye of Jordan. Looks like a toe cut his eye. Hook kick misses for Jordan but he’s struggling with his vision. Nice leg kick leads to a sharp right hand from Magomedov. Clean left hook lands too as Jordan stalks forward. Head kick glances for Magomedov. Crowd aren’t into this at all. Left hook connects on the counter but Jordan walks through it to clinch. Trip attempt from Jordan is blocked again but they remain clinched and here come the boos again. Head kick glances on the break for Magomedov. Good front kick to the body follows. Round ends there. 10-9 Magomedov.

Round Three and Magomedov opens with the question mark kick again. Jordan bulls forward swinging but Magomedov dodges and catches him with a right that seems to drop him for a second to one knee, but he then goes for a single leg. Magomedov uses a front headlock to avoid it and suddenly the crowd are going INSANE. My guess is two dudes were fighting in the crowd as there’s no reason for the sudden surge in the crowd heat. Nasty elbow lands inside for Magomedov and he then opens up with a combo that has Jordan hurt. Left head kick into a spin kick to the head follow but Jordan seems okay. Both of his eyes are cut up badly though. Nice left hook-right hand combination lands for Ruslan. Right head kick glances too. Jordan’s face is a MESS. Magomedov continues to snipe at him from the outside and he avoids being backed into the fence too. Beautiful question mark kick lands for the Dagestani and he follows with a front kick to the body. He’s really picking Jordan apart in this round. Jordan comes back with a good leg kick but he can’t seem to close the distance. Two minutes to go and he manages to clinch, looking for the takedown again, but he can’t get Magomedov down and they exchange short uppercuts inside. Left head kick breaks for Magomedov. Another clinch follows with a minute to go. Jordan breaks this time with an elbow, but he looks gassed and Magomedov hits him with another head kick and then pops him with some punches from the outside. Front kick to the body lands for Magomedov. Round ends with Jordan swinging wild but taking counters. Got to be a shutout for Ruslan Magomedov.

Official scores are 30-27, 29-28 and 30-27 for Ruslan Magomedov. Good win for Magomedov but it wasn’t the best fight, as the issue of lack of power proved to be a legit one for Magomedov – he picked Jordan apart relatively easily, didn’t take much damage himself and landed some beautiful combos and yet he never really had Jordan rocked or wobbled. And it’s not like Jordan hasn’t been KO’d before as both Gabriel Gonzaga and Matt Mitrione turned his lights out. Magomedov has a lot of potential as his speed and striking skill will allow him to pick a lot of the plodding fighters at HW apart, but the problem’s going to come when he ends up against a Ben Rothwell or Roy Nelson who can land one haymaker while they’re eating his shots and put him away. We shall see though – he’s an intriguing prospect to watch. This fight was no good at all though unfortunately. Current rumors have Jordan – who’s now out of contract – trying to get the nod to take on Fedor but I mean, there’s no way, sorry.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Ryan Bader vs Rashad Evans

When Bader crashed the post-UFC 187 press conference challenging Daniel Cormier to a title fight and generally talking a ton of smack, everyone pretty much figured that it was a no-brainer for the UFC to make that fight next. After all, Bader was on a four-fight winning streak and matched up well with Cormier, who you’d figure they’d want to build to a future rematch with Jon Jones. Strangely enough though the title shot went to Alexander Gustafsson (more on that in a minute) and Bader was instead paired with former champion Rashad, who hadn’t fought since picking up a knee injury in early 2014 after his November 2013 win over Chael Sonnen. Due to both the improvements made by Bader over the past couple of years and the layoff Rashad was returning from, this was a tough fight to pick, but I wound up picking Rashad feeling it was just a good stylistic match for him.

First round begins and they circle, with Bader surprisingly opening up with some kicks, both low and high. Overhand right glances for Bader. Couple more kicks follow before he lands a nice right hand shovel punch under Rashad’s arm. They exchange some jabs and Bader adds in a body kick, but misses a takedown by miles and eats a right hand for his troubles. Good jab lands for Bader though and he follows with another. Lot of feints from Evans and he glances on a big overhand right. Bader comes back with another hard shovel punch and a jab. Nice movement from Bader and he sticks Rashad with some more jabs. This is about the best I’ve seen Bader look on his feet. Another shovel punch connects for the TUF 8 winner. Right hand connects for Rashad coming forward but Bader shoves him away. Sneaky right hook lands for Bader. Rashad just seems one step behind Bader. Combination lands for him though and he follows by clinching, but Bader shrugs him off and breaks with an elbow. Seconds to go and Rashad glances with the Liddell-killer overhand right. Bader seems fine though and calmly circles out before going back to his jab as the round ends. 10-9 round for Bader I’d say.

Second round gets underway and Bader opens with some more jabs. Left hook misses for Rashad and Bader makes him pay with a hard straight right and a left hook of his own. Side kick to the body (!) lands for Bader. He’s really using his jab and movement well to neutralise the offense of Rashad here. Takedown attempt from Bader and he gets Rashad down at the first attempt. He looks to pass, but Rashad squirms onto all fours and then stands with Bader grabbing a rear waistlock. Suplex puts Rashad down again but he pops right back up. Bader tries to trip him back down but this time Evans blocks and exits with a knee to the side. Big overhand right misses for Rashad as they exchange jabs. Good right hand connects for Bader but Rashad backs him up a bit and glances on the big overhand right again. More jabs come back for Bader and it looks like Rashad’s right eye is busted up. Hard leg kick from Rashad. Bader fires right back with a body kick. He’s doing a good job too of not letting Rashad back him into the fence. Body shot lands for Bader amongst the jabs. Rashad manages to back him up enough to land a hard right hook, but Bader fires back and lands two of his own. Takedown attempt from Rashad is blocked and that’s the round. 10-9 Bader and Rashad probably needs a finish.

Third round and Rashad’s right eye is practically closed. He pushes forward though, but walks into some more jabs from Bader despite Bader having his back to the fence. Leg kick lands for Rashad. Big overhand right glances for Bader but he does land with a left hand. Step-in left hook lands for Bader. Shovel punch follows again. Nice right-left combo answers for Rashad and he follows in swinging but Bader avoids. Right hook glances for Bader as he comes forward. Quick exchange sees Rashad clinch up, but Bader turns him around and breaks off with a short elbow. Not much time to go here in what’s been an uneventful round. Solid body kick from Bader lands. Crowd are booing mildly for the third fight in a row now which isn’t good. Hard left lands for Rashad as he backs Bader into the fence, and he follows with a takedown attempt but can’t get Bader off his feet. Elbow breaks for Bader and lands hard this time. Rashad keeps on walking him down, but he eats an overhand right and a stiff jab. More jabs from Bader as he continues to outland his opponent. Seconds to go and Bader hits Rashad with a perfect double leg, but Rashad pops right back up again. Wild swings from Rashad but Bader clinches and then drops for another takedown as the buzzer goes. I’d call it 30-27 for Ryan Bader.

All three judges have it 30-27 for Ryan Bader. On the good side then, this was the biggest win of Bader’s career in terms of name value and he also showed the best striking I think I’ve ever seen from him. On the bad side though it was a largely uneventful fight – while Bader clearly landed the better shots he never had Rashad stunned really and while he got a couple of takedowns he couldn’t do much with them. Rashad tried and continually backed Bader up, but he seemed massively rusty and could never quite pull the trigger. Post-fight Dana White said Bader should’ve finished Rashad and while I disagree with that – you can’t just choose to finish a tough guy like Rashad – I can see why they wouldn’t want to give him a title shot coming off a dull outing like this one. Disappointing fight overall.

UFC World Light-Heayvweight Title: Daniel Cormier vs Alexander Gustafsson

As I mentioned earlier after Cormier had won the title vacated by Jon Jones by beating Anthony Johnson at UFC 187, I was pretty sure they’d go with Ryan Bader as his first title defense in order to give DC a winnable fight to hopefully set up the Jones rematch. Instead though he was matched with the giant Swede Gustafsson in a curious decision, not only because Gustafsson is a trickier match for Cormier but also because he’d actually LOST his last fight by knockout to Johnson! It’s not like he’s a huge draw either so why they made the call I’m still not sure. Regardless, it was still a good fight on paper I guess. I was taking Cormier to be able to get inside Gus’s reach and wear him down for a late TKO or a decision, but I did wonder how DC would deal with the size and length of the Swede.

Round One and Gustafsson unsurprisingly circles on the outside as Cormier looks to close him down. Both men glance on strikes early in the round before Gustafsson lands a body kick. Cormier responds with a takedown attempt and shows some LUDICROUS strength, lifting Gus up before dumping him onto his back. He avoids a scramble and takes top position in half-guard, where he lands some left hands. Gustafsson works back into full guard as Cormier begins to work him over to the body and head. Cormier stands over him for a second and that allows the Swede to explode to his feet, only for DC to tackle him right back down to guard. Good punches land to the body for Cormier. Gustafsson isn’t taking much damage here but he isn’t having any offense of his own either. Scramble from Gustafsson allows him onto his side for a second, but he can’t get Cormier off him and he has to hip escape to half-guard after taking some shots. 1:30 to go and Cormier lands a hard elbow before passing to side mount, but Gustafsson scrambles to his feet to a big pop. Right hand glances for the challenger and then he visibly glances at his corner. Leg kick from Cormier but Gus fires back with a body kick of his own. Both men throw some heavy shots that miss, and the round ends with Cormier stuffing a takedown, slipping to the ground for a second but then landing some punches from close range. 10-9 round for Daniel Cormier.

Round Two and Gustafsson opens with some jabs and a couple of combos. Cormier tries to close him down but Gus does a good job of keeping him at range. Good right to the body from Gustafsson. Cormier tries to clinch but Gustafsson catches him with a right hand coming in. The champ fires right back with some wild punches that put the Swede on the run. Big knee from Gustafsson but Cormier catches it and tries to take him down. Gustafsson avoids it well though and then shoots and gets Cormier down! Crowd go apeshit for that one. Cormier pops right back up though. He walks Gus down but walks into a hard right hand that has him hurt. Cormier fires back though by grabbing a collar tie and landing some uppercuts. Knee answers for Gus but Cormier shoots for the takedown. Gustafsson defends and lands some solid elbows to the head and they end up clinched. Good escape from Gustafsson and he lands a nice one-two. Cormier’s right eye is busted up. Body kick from the challenger and another knee lands too. Big uppercut from the challenger but Cormier grabs the collar tie again and nails him with a series of nasty uppercuts. Left breaks off for Gus. Combo to the body and the head lands for Cormier. This is an awesome fight. More jabs set up a pair of right hands for Gustafsson. DC is swinging but he’s just out of range. Big punches land for both in an exchange but Cormier can’t get hold of the Swede for a takedown. Wild exchange sees both land again. Cormier keeps catching him with the uppercut whenever they tie up. Takedown again from Gustafsson though and he takes the back as Cormier pops back up. Couple of knees land inside for the Swede and that’s the round. 10-9 Gustafsson for me.

Round Three and Cormier stalks forward to open the round, looking to back the challenger into the fence. Right hand connects for Gustafsson but Cormier keeps on pushing forward. Nice knee to the body lands for Gustafsson as the champ moves in. Body kick answers for Cormier and he lands with a leg kick too. Hard uppercut catches DC coming in but he takes it well. Right hook lands for Cormier and he steps in and smacks Gustafsson on the temple with another one. Gustafsson’s nose is busted up. Pair of hooks land for the Swede but Cormier catches him with the collar tie and GOES TO TOWN with uppercuts that have the Swede hurt. He manages to break free though and circles out, going back to throwing his jab and the long right hand. Takedown attempt from Gus but Cormier sprawls to avoid. Jabs connect for both men. Two minutes to go and it’s still Cormier pushing the pace. He manages to grab the challenger to deliver some more heavy uppercuts and as they break he connects on a big right hook. More uppercuts and punches from close range land for the champion. Gustafsson’s getting busted up every time they get close. Big left from Cormier. They clinch up again and Cormier looks for more uppercuts, but this time Gustafsson gets the plum clinch and NAILS HIM WITH A KNEE! Cormier is BADLY HURT and some punches put him down, and Gustafsson pounces to look for the finish! Somehow Cormier works his way back up, but he eats another knee and he’s in deep trouble here. He manages to hold on from the clinch though and seems recovered as the round ends. Crowd are deafening. Almost impossible to score that round as Cormier was taking it until the end, but I think the knockdown gives it to Gustafsson, 10-9.

Round Four and Gus opens with a sharp body kick and a leg kick to follow. Good combination from the challenger and he forces Cormier back with his jab too. Cormier comes back with some punches of his own, but Gustafsson shoots and forces him into the fence. DC breaks quickly but he walks into some more jabs and another body kick. Nice right from Gustafsson but some punches from Cormier put him on the run again. Both guys look like they’ve been through hell. Another strong combination lands for the Swede. Big overhand right lands for Cormier as does a stiff left hand. Gustafsson comes back with a long right. He’s doing a good job in this round of not allowing Cormier to grab that collar tie. Beautiful front kick to the body lands for Gustafsson and almost doubles DC over. Good overhand right from Cormier and he puts Gustafsson on the run a bit but can’t catch him cleanly with any follow-up. Takedown attempt from Gus is blocked but he lands a big knee on his way out. Cormier comes right back with a right hand. Exchange continues and Cormier lands some good shots before catching him in the clinch for some uppercuts. Low kick from Cormier but Gustafsson sweeps the leg from under him and puts him down. He pops up immediately though and keeps pushing forward. Another takedown attempt is avoided easily by DC. Left hand from Gus but Cormier fires back with a wild combo. Round ends there. Incredibly tight round to score – probably 10-9 Gustafsson by a hair but it could go either way.

Round Five and this is anyone’s fight. Gustafsson comes out throwing a lot of left hands but he takes a pair of leg kicks. Big right hand from Gustafsson. Cormier manages to close him down though and lands a big right-left combo. Gustafsson gets on the retreat but Cormier’s walking him down. Big right hand lands for Cormier in an exchange and he wings some power hooks that don’t quite land cleanly. Left hand puts Gus on the run again and the crowd don’t like that one bit. He responds with a takedown attempt, but Cormier stuffs it and then wings some more haymakers at him. Gustafsson keeps on running which can’t be good. Cormier manages to catch him to land some uppercuts but he gets out of the way again. Knee connects for Gus as Cormier clinches. Another clinch follows and Cormier works some knees to the body and another uppercut. Gustafsson breaks but Cormier manages to get hold of him again. Again Gustafsson breaks but Cormier is relentless and he comes forward to deliver some more uppercuts from the collar tie. They exchange knees from the clinch but Cormier nails him with some punches too. Gustafsson’s face is an absolute mess and he’s exhausted. One minute to go and Cormier continues to get the better of the exchanges. Gustafsson clinches but it looks like he’s trying to hold on and he’s eating punches inside. Both guys are shattered in fact. Big knee lands for Gustafsson but Cormier eats it right up and lands some more punches until the buzzer goes. 10-9 Cormier but I’d call it 48-47 Gustafsson overall. The second, third and fourth rounds could’ve gone either way though.

And we have a split decision, of course. 48-47 Gustafsson; 48-47 Cormier and 49-46 for Daniel Cormier to retain the title. Crowd seem happy with the call but Gustafsson’s a foreigner so of course that’d be the case. At any rate it was close enough to actually warrant the split – the second, third and fourth rounds were insanely close while Cormier clearly took the first and fifth so I have no issue with him retaining even if I scored it the other way. Gustafsson came closest to finishing with that third round knee, but I don’t think the judges probably liked him retreating so much as they always reward the guy who pushes forward, so there you go. Regardless this was an absolute WAR from start to finish with both guys taking some ridiculous punishment, and the pace they put on was pretty crazy too. Not quite the Fight of the Year as I mean, 2015 has Lawler vs. MacDonald and how do you top that? But it’s definitely a worthy FOTYC and probably the best PPV main event of 2015 actually. Bravo to both guys, and bring on Cormier vs. Jones II!

-Show ends with that promo for UFC 193 involving Ronda Rousey and Holly Holm. Probably the best one that UFC have ever put together I’d say.

Final Thoughts….

Tricky show to rate really as the main event delivered above and beyond expectation and gave us one of the best title fights in recent memory, and Pena/Eye was also a really excellent fight. Those two fights bookended three of the duller PPV fights of the year though, as while Bagautinov/Benavidez, Jordan/Magomedov and Bader/Evans weren’t your typical “bad” fights, they were also those type of fight where there’s just nothing really memorable going on. Add in the fact that all five main card fights went the distance – the second time in 2015 after UFC 182 – and you’ve got one of the lesser PPVs of 2015 I’d say. Still, the main event is definitely worth checking out on Fight Pass.

Best Fight: Cormier vs. Gustafsson
Worst Fight: Benavidez vs. Bagautinov

Overall Rating: **1/4

Until next time,

Scott Newman: