The long-awaited rematch between UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier (19-1) and former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones (22-1) highlights a talent-laden card at UFC 214 on Saturday night in Anaheim. The card also includes a welterweight title bout between hard-hitting champion Tyron Woodley and submission specialist Demian Maia, Cris “Cyborg” Justino’s anticipated union with a UFC belt against Tonya Evinger and a non-title fight between fan favorite Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone and former champion Robbie Lawler.
Jon Jones is one of the most skilled fighters in the history of the sport, a dominant champion with no real losses over the course of his career. However, he was stripped of his light heavyweight title following a series of outside the Octagon incidents. Now, he has the opportunity to regain it from Daniel Cormier, a hated rival whom he defeated once before. Cormier won the title in Jones' absence and now has the opportunity to cement his championship status and avenge the only loss of his career. It's a crucial showdown for both men.
Round 1. They touch gloves at the start as a sign of respect. Jones lands a few straight punches. Cormier knocks Jones' mouthpiece out with a heavy uppercut. Jones goes for a takedown but can't keep Cormier down. Jones throws repeated low kicks as Cormier moves in. Jones has a big length and reach advantage, making it imperative that Cormier closes distance and finds a better range. Jones keeps landing low kicks. He follows with a knee to the body. Cormier connects with a left hook and mixes in some low kicks of his own. Jones answers with an elbow as Cormier is moving in. Cormier lands another left hook. Cormier hits Jones with some hard punches late, his best offense of the fight thus far. He follows with another right hand. 10-9 Cormier. Jones landed much more over the course of the round but Cormier stole it with the most impactful offense of the round in the final minute.
Round 2. Jones lands more of those straight low kicks as Cormier moves in. Cormier retaliates with a couple of looping punches that connect. Jones is doing a good job preventing Cormier from closing distance but he isn't landing many power punches to the head in the process. Cormier connects with a clean uppercut. They clinch. Cormier throws Jones down but Jones recovers quickly and returns to his feet. Cormier lands a hard punch on the inside. Jones uses a nice straight left hand as Cormier is coming in. That was another tough round to score. Jones is continuing to land more but the most powerful shots are coming from Cormier. 10-9 Cormier.
Round 3. Jones lands a nice body punch early. He goes back to work with those low kicks that he wasn't using as much late in the second. Jones hits Cormier with a knee to the body but in the exchange Cormier lands an uppercut and hook. Cormier backs Jones up with punches but Jones rocks Cormier with a head kick. Cormier goes down and Jones land a series of big punches and elbows until the referee stops it.
Winner: Jon Jones, TKO, round 3.
Daniel Cormier was giving Jon Jones a tough fight throughout but one of Jones' greatest strengths has always been the diversity of his offense. He slipped in that head kick after so many kicks that went lower and then he fully capitalized on the opportunity. Jones is one of the most supremely talented fighters there has ever been and he showed it again there against an extremely talented opponent.
For Cormier, it's a heartbreaking loss. He was giving his rival all that Jones could take but it all changed in an instant. Cormier was agitated after the fight, arguing with referee John McCarthy and UFC President Dana White. An emotional Cormier is barely able to compose himself in a brief post-fight interview. He's an exceptional competitor but ran into arguably the best fighter in history twice.
Tyron Woodley is building a nice resume for himself, winning the UFC welterweight title from Robbie Lawler and then defending twice against Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson (they fought to a draw and Woodley won the rematch via decision). Demian Maia has won seven straight to earn this shot. It's an interesting style matchup. Woodley has a wrestling background and has added power striking as well. Maia's strength is his jiu jitsu. The strong expectation is Maia will look to take this fight to the ground while Woodley will look to fight standing.
Round 1. Maia shoots in for a takedown just 15 seconds in. Woodley does a masterful job blocking the takedown. Maia shoots in again and it is blocked again. Maia is bleeding around the eye. Maia attempts the takedown again and Woodley again stops Maia. Maia goes for another quick shot and it is stopped. Woodley grabs the fence in the process and is warned about it. Woodley lands a big right hand as Maia moves in. Woodley is cautious in the standup, likely because of the clearly established takedown threat. Woodley stuffs a takedown attempt easily. 10-9 Woodley.
Round 2. Woodley drops Maia with a punch. Rather than pursuing, he has Maia stand back up. Maia lands a nice straight left of his own. Woodley presses the action, looking to land a big shot. Maia goes for a takedown but it is blocked. Woodley hits Maia with a couple more punches and blocks another takedown attempt. 10-9 Woodley.
Round 3. Maia shoots for a takedown and doesn't come close. Woodley is content to throw a little bit more than Maia and make sure that Maia doesn't get him down. There isn't a sense of urgency, just like the Stephen Thompson fights outside a few big flurries. 10-10.
Round 4. Maia shoots in for a takedown a minute in but it is blocked. Maia walks forward and looks for an opportunity but he isn't having much success with his strikes or takedowns. Woodley isn't landing much either. Woodley blocks another takedown. Woodley lands a right hand and Maia lands a left low kick.10-10.
Round 5. Maia goes for a takedown and gets in deep but Woodley defends well again. Maia tries two more times and neither comes close. However, Woodley continues to not throw much at all even with the fight in his domain. Fans have begun holding up their phones in the audience as a sort of protest. They then turn to loud chants of boring. 10-10, 50-48 Woodley.
Winner: Tyron Woodley, unanimous decision (50-45, 49-46, 49-46).
That was a dreadful fight, the second straight for Tyron Woodley. He was in there with a skilled opponent and had to be careful but the lack of aggression (a record low in strikes thrown) didn't make for a crowd pleasing performance.
Cris "Cyborg" Justino is one of the biggest stars in women's MMA, a feared striker undefeated in MMA competition since 2005. UFC created a women's featherweight title basically for her but it has been a debacle to this point. Justino was unavailable when the title was created so UFC matched up bantamweights Holly Holm and Germaine De Randamie. The less marketable De Randamie won and then refused to fight Justino so she was stripped. UFC then matched up Justino and Megan Anderson for the title. Anderson had to pull out so bantamweight Tonya Evinger was moved into the spot. Evinger is a heavy underdog.
Round 1. Evinger goes down from the first punch. Justino lands a few more punches and Evinger pulls guard. Justino has her stand back up. Evinger misses a couple punches. Evinger goes for a takedown and gets Justino down momentarily. Justino gets back up. Evinger gets her down again but Justino gets up again. Justino lands a knee to the body and they break. Justino lands a few punches and a head kick. Justino connects with a hard overhand late. 10-9 Justino.
Round 2. Justino opens with a couple of leg kicks. Justino continues to attack the lead leg. Justino adds some punches and a head kick. The action is pretty much just one way but Evinger doesn't appear to be taking a ton of damage from Justino's strikes. 10-9 Justino.
Round 3. Justino connects with a couple of powerful right hands and a head kick. Justino knocks Evinger down with another right hand but then lets her stand back up. Justino nails Evinger with a series of knees to the body and head. Evinger goes down and the fight is finally called off.
Winner: Cris "Cyborg" Justino, TKO, round 3.
Well, they finally got a title on Cris Justino. It doesn't symbolize much because there isn't really a division of women her size but she is a well known star and the title is window dressing for her fights. Justino didn't seem like she was packing as much power as she has at various points in the past but there was still power enough to win this one. Tonya Evinger was tough and hung in there but didn't have much to threaten Justino with.
UFC has been attempting to put together this fight for some time now but injuries have prevented it from happening. Lawler and Cerrone are popular action fighters with knockout power and this figures to be an exciting bout while it lasts. Lawler is the former UFC welterweight champion and Cerrone is a former UFC lightweight title challenger.
Round 1. Lawler comes out aggressively. He lands some big punches and then follows with heavy knees. He goes back to punches to the head and Cerrone is in trouble. This is one of the fastest starts you're going to see with Lawler. Cerrone recovers and they battle in the clinch trading punches and elbows from close range. Cerrone looks for a takedown but doesn't get it. Lawler lunges in with a big knee to the head and then a head kick. Cerrone gets a takedown with two minutes left in the round. Cerrone passes into side control and then switches into North-South position. Cerrone lands a knee to the body but then Lawler gets up. 10-9 Lawler.
Round 2. Cerrone connects with a few looping punches early. Cerrone uses a nice elbow as well. Cerrone goes for a high kick but Lawler blocks it like he has pretty much all of Cerrone's high kick attempts. Cerrone moves forward with a series of punches and lands a knee to the body. Lawler isn't throwing as much after his big flurry at the start of the fight. Cerrone lands a knee to the body and then finally lands one of those head kicks. Cerrone really took over in that round. 10-9 Cerrone.
Round 3. Lawler lands a head kick early. They trade knees to the body. Lawler punishes Cerrone with a few big punches. Lawler is picking up the pace after a slow second. Lawler adds a few more big punches and brushes off a couple takedown attempts.Lawler attacks the body with kicks and they trade punches from close range. 10-9 Lawler, 29-28 Lawler.
Winner: Robbie Lawler, unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
That was definitely the right decision. Lawler had a solid edge in the first and third while the second round belonged to Cerrone. It was an exciting fight as expected. Lawler is right back in the title mix at 170 and could find himself getting another title shot soon. That was Donald Cerrone's 42nd professional MMA fight and remarkably the first time he lost two fights in a row.
With Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier fighting for the UFC light heavyweight title in the main event of this card, Jimi Manuwa and Volkan Oezdemir are looking to position themselves for an upcoming title shot. Manuwa appears to be closer. The exciting British striker is 17-2 with 15 knockouts including 2 straight in the UFC. He could get the next title shot if Cormier wins in the main event. Oezdemir is more of a dark horse. He came into the UFC quietly but the 14-1 knockout artist has consecutive upsets over Ovince St. Preux and Misha Cirkunov. He looks to continue his improbable rise tonight.
Round 1. The fighters clinch and trade low knees. Oezdemir hurts Manuwa with a few short punches. Manuwa backs away and Oezdemir pursues aggressively. He lands a couple more punches, shoves Manuwa to the ground and knocks Manuwa out cold with a few punches on the ground.
Winner: Volkan Oezdemir, KO, round 1.
Volkan Oezdemir was pretty much a complete unknown not so long ago but he is now one of the top light heavyweights in the world. He possesses tremendous power and and has taken out some of the best in the division. It's hard to know whether he can compete against the likes of Jon Jones, Daniel Cormier or Alexander Gustafsson but we're likely to find out soon. Oezdemir challenged the winner of Jones/Cormier next.
Ricardo Lamas is one of the top featherweights in the world and has been for many years. The former title challenger is 2-2 in his last 4. Jason Knight is emerging as a fan favorite because of his fighting style. He has won four straight but this is his toughest opponent to date.
Round 1. Lamas gets the takedown early. He quickly secures side control. Lamas postures up for a few big punches and elbows. Knight attacks the leg and looks for a heel hook but Lamas works his way out. Lamas lands a big punch that rocks Knight and then he opens up with a series of punches. He lands one punch after another right to the chin of Knight. Knight has great courage but he is taking unbelievable punishment. Finally, the referee mercifully stops it.
Winner: Ricardo Lamas, TKO, round 1.
That was Ricardo Lamas' most impressive win in quite some time. He was just brutalizing Knight with punches. Knight demonstrated the toughness that has made him popular but that kind of toughness can work against a fighter in a situation like that.
Renan Barao is the former UFC bantamweight champion. He attempted to move up to featherweight after losing the bantamweight title but he struggled there and will attempt to move back to bantamweight. This is a 140 pound catchweight as ordered by the California State Athletic Commission. Aljamain Sterling is a highly regarded rising star out of the Serra-Longo camp looking for a marquee win to move into the title mix.
Round 1. The fighters exchange kicks early. As Sterling moves in with a kick he falls to the ground off balance. Steling immediately attacks the leg of Barao and appears to be trying to set up a knee bar. Sterling can't get it and takes Barao into his full guard. Barao uses some punches and elbows from top position. Sterling ties up Barao from the bottom and doesn't give up much offense but Sterling isn't able to threaten with much either. In the final minute, Sterling looks for an arm bar but cannot get it. Barao goes back to work with punches. 10-9 Barao.
Round 2. Barao knocks Sterling down with a kick and looks for an anaconda choke but he gives it up. Sterling lands a left hand and briefly looks for a takedown but gives up on the idea. Moments later, Sterling attempts again and gets the takedown. Sterling quickly takes the back. Sterling connects with a hard elbow and works to maintain control of the back. Sterling drops some heavy elbows and Barao sneaks out of back control. Sterling regains top position and continues with additional hard elbows. Sterling drops some elbows to the butt and follows with punches and elbows to the head. 10-8 Sterling.
Round 3. Sterling rocks Barao with a front kick. He seems to have much more energy than Barao and opens up against the cage including a strong knee to the body. Sterling then looks for another takedown. He doesn't get it and just ends up in a clinch by the cage. After separation, Sterling goes back to the clinch until they are separated again. Barao then looks for a takedown of his own. Barao gets Sterling down late and gets the back at th end. 10-9 Sterling, 29-27 Sterling.
Winner: Aljamain Sterling, unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 30-26).
He didn't get a spectacular finish, but Sterling showcased an impressive overall skill set and won over an opponent with a pretty big name. The bantamweight division has good depth right now and Sterling should have some solid options for his next fight. Renan Barao hasn't looked like an elite fighter for quite some time and it remains doubtful whether he ever will again.
This battle of unbeaten fighters pits two opponents with three UFC wins each. Both men have relied primarily on submissions and are looking to emerge as contenders at featherweight.
Round 1. The fighters trade jabs at the start. Ortega lands a nice hook. He lands another looping punch and move in swinging hard. Moicano answers back and Ortega has to be more cautious. Moicano connects with a nice body kick. Ortega is moving forward consistently but Moicano is doing a good job answering as well. Moicano lands an overhand right late. Moicano's nose is bloody. 10-9 Ortega.
Round 2. Moicano opens up with a few solid combinations on Ortega. Ortega continues to walk down Moicano confidently, not showing a lot of respect for Moicano's power. Moicano lands another combination on him. Moicano is really getting the better of Ortega in the striking this round. Ortega lands a hard right hand that gets a big reaction out of the crowd. Ortega follows with some punches to the body. Moicano answers with a solid combination of his own. Moicano gets a takedown at the end of the round.
Round 3. Moicano opens up with some quality punches to start the round. Ortega shoots for a takedown but it is stuffed. Ortega throws a head kick right after. Moicano lands a straight right hand as Ortega is moving in. Ortega looks for another takedown and again doesn't come close. Moicano gets a takedown but Ortega grabs a guillotine choke and gets the submission.
Winner: Brian Ortega, submission, round 3.
That was really impressive technique by Ortega. He only needed a very small opening there late in the fight and he put it away. Clearly, Ortega's ground game is something other fighters need to be very careful of.
Andre Fili is a wild fighter known for his entertaining fights. He has alternated wins and losses in the UFC, going 4-3 overall. Calvin Kattar is making his UFC debut with an impressive 16-2 record and 8 straight wins.
Round 1. The fight is evenly contested early. Fili appears to be throwing a little bit more but it's not a distinct advantage. Kattar gets a takedown late and time expires. That was a tough round to score. 10-9 Fili.
Round 2. Kattar opens with some leg kicks and lands a nice two punch combination. He lands another hard right hand a little bit later. Fili coninues to move a lot but Kattar's success in the striking this round has led to decreased output from Fili. Kattar backs Fili up with punches late including a stiff uppercut. 10-9 Kattar.
Round 3. Kattar is taking over the fight as time progresses. He is connecting more and Fili's just not attacking in the way that he was in the first round because of the threat of Kattar's counters. Kattar gets a takedown late and lands a few punches before standing back up. 10-9 Kattar, 29-28 Kattar.
Winner: Calvin Kattar, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
That was a solid UFC debut for Calvin Kattar. He picked up a clear win over a respected opponent and demonstrated he belongs at this level.
Alexandra Albu is a Russian fighter who is 2-0 professionally. She debuted in the UFC in 2015 but hasn't fought since then. Kailin Curran is a Hawaiian fighter with a 4-4 record. She has lost 4 of her last 5 in the UFC.
Round 1. Curran goes to clinch. Albu lands some knees to the body and then knees to the head in the process. She hurts Curran with punches and then oddly pulls guard. Curran lands some punches from the top while Albu goes for a leg lock. Curran lands a series of punches to force Albu to give up the hold. Albu returns to her feet. Albu lands a few punches and muscles Curran to the ground. Curran gets up. Albu lands a hard punch and then uses a head lock takedown. Albu drops a heavy elbow and opens up with punches. Curran gets back to her feet. That was an exciting, wild round. 10-9 Albu.
Round 2. The pace slows relatively to the first round. Albu gets a takedown a couple minutes in. Curran pops up and lands a few hard punches before being taken down again. Albu lands some punches from the top before eating a hard illegal upkick. They return to the feet where Albu lands some nice body kicks and hard punches to the head. Curran lands a nice right hand late. 10-9 Albu.
Round 3. Curran swarms on Albu, landing some big punches and mixing in a head kick. Albu is backed up as Curran pours on the offense. Albu answers back and stops the Curran offensive. Albu connects with a couple of solid straight right hands but Curran gets a takedown. Curran quickly moves into side control. Albu gets half guard and then full guard but Curran does get in punches throughout as Albu mostly plays defense. Albu gets up late and then gets Curran down. Curran gets up and then gets a takedown of her own at the end. 10-9 Curran, 29-28 Albu.
Winner: Alexandra Albu, unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
The crowd boos but that was a relatively easy fight to score. Both fighters showed great heart and delivered an entertaining scrap. Albu with her style is a marketable individual if only she can stay more active in the sport.
Jarred Brooks is an undefeated competitor making his UFC debut. He has fought extensively overseas. Eric Shelton lost his UFC debut by split decision and is looking to rebound here.
Round 1. Brooks shoots in and gets a takedown. He lands some punches and then a knee to the body as Shelton stands back up. Brooks pulls him back down. Shelton lands some elbows to the head from the bottom. Brooks grabs a guillotine choke and flips into full mount. Shelton is fine and the round concludes. 10-9 Brooks.
Round 2. Shelton comes out looking to land a big shot. Brooks goes for a takedown but doesn't get it. Shelton gets a takedown of his own late. Brooks grabs a guillotine choke but Shelton rolls out and returns to his feet. Brooks gets a takedown at the end. 10-9 Shelton.
Round 3. Shelton appears to stun Brooks with a punch. Brooks is able to recover relatively quickly and Shelton doesn't press the issue strongly. As the round progresses, the fighters largely circle each other as the crowd boos. Shelton throws a flying knee late. Brooks gets a takedown and Shelton grabs a guillotine at the end. 10-9 Shelton, 29-28 Shelton.
Winner: Jarred Brooks, split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28).
That was a questionable decision and another lackluster fight in a division that fans care very little about.
Josh Burkman first fought in the UFC in 2005 as a rising welterweight contender. Now 36, Burkman has struggled in recent UFC fights. He is 1-8 with 1 no contest in his last 10 UFC contests. Drew Dober has won his fights mostly by submission and is looking to rebound from a loss in his last bout.
Round 1. The fighters trade leg kicks early. Dober clinches and looks for a takedown by the cage. He doesn't come close and they separate. Burkman lands a nice hook. Dober tries to fire back but doesn't connect big. Dober knocks Burkman out with a left hand. It was a brutal one punch KO that put Burkman's lights out.
Winner: Drew Dober, KO, round 1.
That was one for the highlight reel for Drew Dober, an important victory that is his third in his last four UFC fights. For Josh Burkman, that is almost certainly the end of the road for him in the UFC as he lost his fourth straight in emphatic fashion.
Saturday at Honda Center, UFC 214 is so packed with quality mixed martial arts fighters, UFC President Dana White called the card, “One of the best in the history of the company and obviously the best of the year.”
In addition to the long-awaited rematch between light-heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier (19-1) and former champion Jon Jones (22-1), the card includes a welterweight title bout between hard-hitting champion Tyron Woodley and submission specialist Demian Maia, and Cris “Cyborg” Justino’s anticipated union with a UFC belt against Tonya Evinger.
The entertainment value of the McGregor-Mayweather novelty is expected to threaten the record of 4.6 million pay-per-view buys set by Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao in 2015. But combat-sports purists understand Saturday’s card and the Sept. 16 middleweight boxing match between unbeaten, three-belt champion Gennady Golovkin and Mexico’s former two-division champion Canelo Alvarez will likely produce far more competitive action.
Cormier-Jones has been a long-festering battle that dates to the pair meeting backstage in 2010 when Cormier’s close friend and stablemate, Cain Velasquez, defeated Brock Lesnar for the heavyweight belt. The pair exchanged words over who was the better wrestler, leading to a news conference fight in 2014, Jones’ unanimous-decision victory in January 2015 and then a series of Jones missteps leading to this rematch.
What makes the card a candidate to challenge some of the strongest events in organization history goes beyond the Daniel Cormier-Jon Jones light-heavyweight championship bout, Tyron Woodley’s third welterweight title defense and Cris “Cyborg” Justino’s attempt to become the featherweight champion.
The pay-per-view card also features a welterweight brawl between former champion Robbie Lawler and fan favorite Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, with a compelling light-heavyweight bout between top-five contenders Jimi Manuwa and Volkan Oezdemir.
“It’s one of the best cards in the history of the company and obviously the best card of the year,” UFC President Dana White said.
Lawler (27-11) lost his belt to Woodley last year and is eager to return to title contention after White said former champion Georges St-Pierre is next in line for the Woodley-Demian Maia winner.
Life has been a crash course for Jon Jones during the last 30 months.
The 30-year-old former UFC light-heavyweight champion re-emerges Saturday night at Honda Center against champion Daniel Cormier at UFC 214. Jones says the journey has toughened him, creating a better version of the organization’s former pound-for-pound No. 1 fighter.
“I’ve come to expect more out of myself – as a citizen, as a man, as an athlete – to reach a better place, a place I’ve never been,” Jones said. “I’m just loaded with good energy right now and I’m excited to take all this with me into the octagon.”
Waiting for him there will be the man who’s proven to be the most eager to remind Jones of his failings.
The 38-year-old Cormier has been continually in Jones’ face, contributing to their 2014 news conference fight and prodding the former champion over each of the slips during Jones’ extended fall from grace.
Jones submitted a positive cocaine test days before the Jan. 3, 2015, unanimous-decision victory over Cormier. Weeks later, he injured a pregnant woman in a car crash as Jones scurried from his vehicle with a wad of cash, triggering a brief jailing and the stripping of his belt.