Saturday, 17 January 2015

Catch-Up: UFC 182 Jones vs Cormier

It's time to play Catch-Up once more as we take a look at the recent past and the first big MMA fight of 2015, the Light-Heavyweight title clash that headlined UFC 182: Jones vs. Cormier.

The show began in the welterweight division as Hector Lombard went up against Josh Burkman.

This was the first UFC fight I'd seen in months, and even though it lacked that quick and exciting finish it did make for interesting viewing.

Burkman began his night's work by catching Lombard with some nice shots, and although he looked good early on the Cuban soon came into his own. By the time the second round began Burkman looked out of ideas as Lombard took control. Indeed, there were times when Burkman walked around the cage, his hands down by his sides, as he tried to draw Lombard in.

The former Olympian was having none of that though, and as the fight went on the countless brutal leg kicks began to take a visible toll on Burkman, and the brief moment of ground fighting in the final round was even more evidence that Lombard was in control.

But with no finish in sight the judges were called upon. No surprises here as Lombard took the unanimous decision.

It was down to flyweight for the next fight as Kyoji Horiguchi took on Louis Gaudinot.

Once again the flyweights put on a very enjoyable encounter. Gaudinot put in a great effort in the first round. His striking looked crisp throughout, and with only a stray low kick impeding his progress for a few moments it looked like things were going to go his way for the remainder of the fight.

That was until Horiguchi connected with a great combination at the beginning of the second. The Japanese star really upped his game afterwards, and although Gaudinot still managed to get in a few good shots Horiguchi's combinations gave him no end of trouble, and it was these tactics that allowed him to control the rest of the fight.

As for the judges they agreed with everything as Horiguchi took the unanimous decision.

Middleweight action followed as Brad Tavares faced Nate Marquardt.

This was another very enjoyable striking battle, although if you believed the reaction of the audience you'd have thought that it was one of the most boring fights in the history of MMA.

Marquardt looked good early on, especially when he connected with a front kick, but as time went on Tavares began to come into his own as he peppered his man with jabs and targeted his lead leg with some brutal looking kicks.

Marquardt managed to stay in the fight for the most part, but Tavares' performance clearly better as he continued with his choice of tactics, and as the fight came to an end his final flurry signified his control perfectly.

The judges also saw it that was as they continued with their agreeing ways and gave Tavares the unanimous decision.

The co-main event featured lightweight action as Donald Cerrone went up against Myles Jury.

This was pretty good, and if you ever wanted an example of a well-rounded fighter then take a look at the Cowboy's performance in this fight.

Jury made a promising start when he scored with the takedown early on, but that turned out to be his only offensive move on the ground as Cerrone went for a shoulder lock. Jury had to give up position to escape that particular hold, but a few moments later he was on the defensive once more as Cerrone took his back and went for a rear naked choke. The Cowboy's ground work was top notch, as was evident by his armbar attempt as the first round came to an end.

The next two rounds saw Cerrone show just what a great striker he is. Although Jury managed to get in quite a few good blows Cerrone was always one step ahead of him. His leg kicks looked absolutely lethal, and when he connected with a stiff right kick to Jury's jaw it was more than obvious just who was going to win that fight.

Another clear statement of intent came in the final few seconds of the fight. Having shown some great takedown defence Cerrone muscled Jury down to the mat, and as Jury lay on his back Cerrone connected with numerous had kicks. Jury offered nothing in return and was the proverbial sitting duck, and if the fight had ended then the referee would have probably stepped in.

All of this meant more work for the judges. Once again there were no surprises as Cerrone took the unanimous decision.

The main event saw Daniel Cormier challenging Jon Jones for the Light Heavyweight title.

The first big title fight of the year certainly delivered, and then some, because what we had here was a five rounder full of twists and turns, with great performances from champion and challenger alike.

The first three rounds looked to be pretty even. Both fighters got in their fair share of great strikes, and although Jones enjoyed a lengthy reach advantage Cormier was more than able to negate those gifts. There was one major difference between the fighters though as Jones managed to do what fifteen others before him couldn't when he took DC down to the mat.

The fourth round proved to be the turning point when Jones took his man down to the ground again, and although Cormier got back to his feet the fatigue started to show as Jones began to impose his will on the fight. The clinch game against the cage may not have made for good viewing for some, but it was the perfect way to grind his challenger down.

Cormier looked exhausted at the beginning of the final round, and although a knockout would have been his best chance of getting the finish he needed he seemed intent on getting one over his rival, and in a sense he achieved this when, after a long effort, he managed to take Jones down, something that's only been done once before. But by this time it was too little too late. Jones got back to his feet immediately, and a brief exchange at the end of the fight, with Cormier connecting after the horn, the proceedings came to an end.

Which meant that the judges were called upon for the final time as Jones took the unanimous decision.

In conclusion - the first UFC show I'd seen in months definitely lived up to all the hype. There wasn't one bad fight here, and although there weren't any big knockouts or submissions we were treated to some great action. It really was a fine way to kick off the UFC's year.

As for my prestigious fight of the night no-prize I was all set to give it to Donald Cerrone and Myles Jury. Then the main event came along as Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier stole the show to take the award.

So with all of that out of the way there's just one more thing left to do, and that's to give UFC 182 the big thumbs up.