Two title fights highlighted the Memorial Day Weekend event that was UFC 187 Saturday night.
Daniel Cormier weathered an early storm from Anthony Johnson, relying on his Olympic-level wrestling in the second and third rounds to score a submission win over “Rumble” and become the new UFC light heavyweight champion.
The title had been declared vacant after Jon Jones was stripped of it following an alleged hit-and-run incident in New Mexico.
Following his title-winning performance, Cormier grabbed the microphone and delivered a stern message to the former champion, instructing him to get his “shit together” and that he’d be waiting for him.
It took Chris Weidman one takedown a less than a minute to put away Vitor Belfort in the co-main event, earning his third successful title defense vs. a former Brazilian champion. The reigning UFC middleweight champion took Belfort’s best shot early on, scoring with his patented power takedown and ending it in less than three minutes.
Weidman, unbeaten, has now downed Anderson Silva twice, Lyoto Machida and Belfort in succession.
Nothing Donald Cerrone did in the first round could make John Makdessi quit. In the second, though, “Cowboy” landed with another head-kick that broke the jaw of Makdessi, propelling him to his eighth straight win and fifth finish in the lightweight division.
Ex-UFC champion Andrei Arlovski and Travis Browne engaged in what might go down as the greatest round in heavyweight history, standing and banging for four minutes. After dropping Browne, Arlovski finished him with a flurry on the feet and earned a win over the third-ranked fighter.
In a battle of former UFC flyweight title contenders, it was Joseph Benavidez coming out on top, besting John Moraga via decision. Benavidez has now won three straight since a 2013 first round knockout loss to Demetrious Johnson for the title.
John Dodson made a triumphant return to the Octagon following surgery for a torn ACL, besting Zach Makovsky in a key flyweight contest via unanimous decision. Dong Hyun Kim, fighting for the first time since a 2014 loss to Tyron Woodley, choked out Josh Burkman.
Rafael Natal pulled out a split decision over Uriah Hall. The two came out like gangbusters against one another, but it was the wrestling of Natal that made the difference. Colby Covington was pushed to the distance for the first time since joining the UFC, besting veteran Mike Pyle.
Justin Scoggins kicked off the night with a hard-fought decision win over Josh Sampo, while Islam Makhachev had an impressive Octagon debut. The American Kickboxing Academy fighter scored a second round rear-naked choke on Leo Kuntz, who was also fighting for the first time with the UFC.
Arlovski and Browne claimed “Fight of the Night” honors, while Cormier and Weidman each earned “Performance of the Night” bonuses. The attendance for the card was announced at 12,615 with a live gate of $5,189,167.
Complete results can be found below:
Daniel Cormier def. Anthony Johnson via submission (rear-naked choke) at 2:39 of Round 3 to become the new UFC light heavyweight champion
Chris Weidman def. Vitor Belfort via TKO (strikes) at 2:53 of Round 1 to retain the UFC middleweight championship
Donald Cerrone def. John Makdessi via TKO (strikes) at 4:44 of Round 2
Andrei Arlovski def. Travis Browne via TKO (strikes) at 4:41 of Round 1
Joseph Benavidez def. John Moraga via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
John Dodson def. Zach Makovsky via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Dong Hyun Kim def. Josh Burkman via submission (arm-triangle choke) at 2:13 of Round 3
Rafael Natal def. Uriah Hall via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Colby Covington def. Mike Pyle via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-27)
Islam Makhachev def. Leo Kuntz via submission (rear-naked choke) at 2:38 of Round 2
Justin Scoggins def. Josh Sampo via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)