Tuesday, 26 May 2015

TV Review: UFC 187 Johnson vs Cormier

It's time to step into the Octagon once again as we take a look at the two title fights that headlined UFC 187, shown live in the early hours of this past Sunday morning on BT Sport here in Britain.

The action began in the flyweight division as Joseph Benavidez took on John Moraga.

The only fight on the main card proved to be a very entertaining opener. Both fighters had their fair share of good moments. Moraga's best came from his striking, especially when he connected with a series of kicks that gave Benavidez some trouble.

Moraga's best chance came early in the fight when he connected with a high kick to the head. Benavidez responded almost instantly when he connected with a big right that wobbled his man. From there he took the fight to the ground, and although there were some good scrambles in the first as the fight went on Benavidez more or less dominated the action whenever they went to the ground.

So with the fight going the distance the judges were called up for the only time during the main card as Benavidez took the unanimous decision.

The heavyweights were up next as Travis Browne faced former champion Andrei Arlovski.

To say that this one was action-packed would be an understatement. It looked like we were going to get an early stoppage when Arlovski rocked Browne, but the big man managed to survive this particular onslaught, only to find himself on the receiving end of further barrages from the Pitbull as the round went on.

Things were certainly going well for Arlovski as he rocked Browne on numerous occasions. Browne looked ripe for the pickings, and his only brief moment of success came when he rocked Arlovski and put him on the canvas momentarily.

But despite that slight hiccup it was obvious how this was going to turn out, and as the round entered it's final minute and Browne looked ready for the taking Arlovski unloaded with a series of rights. The referee had no choice but to step as Arlovski took the TKO win.

Lightweight action followed as Donald Cerrone went up against John Makdessi.

This all-striking affair gave us nearly two full rounds of great entertainment. Cerrone began the exchanges with a high kick, and from there he used his kicks to good effect, especially against Makdessi's head leg. Makdessi, for his part, used his left jab to good effect, but as the fight entered the second it was becoming obvious that the Cowboy's attack on his lead leg was hampering him.

The end came towards the end of the second. When Cerrone connected with a high left kick to the head Makdessi gave the time-out signal immediately, and after the referee stepped in to call the fight Makdessi revealed that he'd broken his jaw. The result, a TKO win for Cerrone.

The co-main event saw Vitor Belfort challenging Chris Weidman for the Middleweight title.

This was another fight that fits perfectly into the action-packed folder. There was a brief feeling out period before a somewhat messy-looking scramble which gave Belfort the chance to connect with a series of strikes that busted Weidman open. The champion looked in good nick afterwards though, and it wasn't long before he took the Phenom down to the ground.

Weidman then went to work, taking the mount a few seconds later and unleashing with the ground and pound. Belfort gave up his back for a few seconds, but when Weidman re-took the top position and continued with his barrage it was all over bar the shouting. Belfort offered nothing in reply, so it came as no surprise when the referee stepped in to give Weidman the TKO win.

The main event saw Anthony Johnson taking on Daniel Cormier for the vacant Light Heavyweight title.

This one definitely made up for the disappointing loss of Jon Jones. Within seconds of the fight starting Johnson connected with a big right that sent Cormier crashing to the canvas. He didn't stay down there for long though, and he took control almost instantly with his grappling as he took Johnson to the ground and controlled the action brilliantly.

It was pretty much the same story in the second round, but what was extremely worrying for Johnson was that he looked absolutely exhausted early on, and as Cormier went to work there were times when Johnson looked like a goldfish gasping for air. Cormier was all over him like a cheap suit, and try as he might there just wasn't anything Johnson could do to stop him, and by the time the round ended and with his face battered courtesy of Cormier's ground and pound he already looked like a beaten man.

Despite his lack of energy Johnson gave it another go in the third, but once again Cormier took control. Johnson was more or less finished at that point. He was there for the taking as Cormier took his back and locked in a rear naked choke, and it came as no surprise when Johnson tapped out to give Cormier the submission win.

And for me the best moment of the entire fight came during the announcement when Johnson took the title belt from Dana White and strapped it around Cormier's waist. What a show of class.

In conclusion - UFC 187 delivered big time. From top to bottom the main card was filled with great fight action and tremendous performances, and it may have had many saying "Jon who?", because at the end of the day the disappearance from the card of the former Light Heavyweight champion may have proved to be a blessing in disguise.

The five great fights here left me with something of a problem though. Who should I give my fight of the night no-prize to? Well, those in the know gave it to Andrei Arlovski's demolition job on Travis Browne, and I have to admit I considered agreeing with them. Then Daniel Cormier and Rumble Johnson came along and gave us a great main event, so I'm giving my award to the light heavyweights this time around.

So with all of that out of the way there's just one more thing left to do, and that's to give UFC 187 the big thumbs up.