It’s damn near impossible to look back at the flat-out fantastic card that was UFC 187 without first examining the bizarre series of events that shaped it. A seemingly invincible champion inside the cage was undone by his own actions outside of it. A seemingly broken former title challenger was suddenly thrust back into the title picture. An injury-plagued champion shrouded in doubt was finally set to face a morally (and chemically) dubious challenger in a fight some two years in the making. UFC 187 was a card surrounded by so many questions and disappointments (NURMY!!!) going in that its results could have easily left fans as unsatisfied as they would have been had the it been cancelled outright.
Thankfully, UFC 187 quickly and distinctly answered all our questions in a night of brilliant violence.
“Get your shit together, I’m waiting for you.”
It wasn’t easy to see why Daniel Cormier was being considered such a huge favorite over Anthony Johnson until the cage doors closed. Johnson was the bigger man (an insane fact considering the weight classes both men previously fought in), the more powerful puncher, and had shown a ridiculously improved grappling game in his recent wins over Phil Davis and Alexander Gustafsson. After he sent Cormier halfway across the canvas with a right hand early on, it appeared as if we were in store for another classic “Rumble” destruction, and a bad night at the office for the bookies.
But even more surprising than punch Johnson landed early was how Cormier recovered from it — instantly and no worse for the wear. From that point on, the fight was what many of us predicted from the Olympian: a grinding, relentless, wrestling-based attack that had broken many an opponent in the past. Like Vitor Belfort had managed on Johnson in his first UFC run, Cormier smothered “Rumble”, bounced his head off the canvas a few times, and finished him when he had all but given up.
While questions regarding Cormier’s “legitimacy” as champion will always remain in Jon Jones‘ absence, DC’s message to the former king was succinct and necessary as it could’ve been: We will fight again, just as soon as the courts allow.
In the meantime, it appears the newly-crowned champion will be content to put beating on Ryan Bader, who did all he needed to do to set up their grudge match during the evening’s post-fight presser. Cormier’s reaction to being called out by Bader, however, wasn’t exactly reflective of the “champion’s attitude” he had been preaching in the weeks leading up to UFC 187. How one of FOX’s go-to analysts can come across so polished inside the studio yet so unhinged outside of it seems to suggest that, like Jones, there may be more to Daniel Cormier than we thought there was.
“Hey, hey. Stop doubting me. It’s enough. Stop doubting me. You better join the team now. This is my last invitation. Join the team. I love you.”
At this point, I don’t even know what to say to the inexplicably-vehement, likely Brazilian h8rs of Chris Weidman. If his hilariously self-deprecating stories, his day-to-day heroism, or his recent interview with Ariel Helwani hasn’t already endeared you to the guy, then nothing will (also, you’re probably a dick). Chris Weidman is the honest, down-to-earth, anti-steroid-crusading champion that this sport needs right now, and better yet, he’s incredibly skilled to boot.
Matched up against a significantly less bulky but still scary Vitor Belfort, Weidman once again walked the walk in a savage one round thrashing of the legend and former light heavyweight champion. As most of us expected, Belfort came out like a man on fire early, unleashing a vicious barrage on Weidman against the cage that opened him up above his left eye. When the champ emerged from the blitzkrieg without even the slightest look of concern on his face, however, you could practically see the life drain from Vitor’s eyes. The fight was already over. Weidman secured a beautifully-timed takedown, quickly passed to mount, and unleashed the finishing shots from above that seemed to say “F*ck your 1200 ng/dL, I run this town.”
Weidman’s mental resolve is truly a thing to behold, and will hopefully see him to many a title defense down the line. If he can stay healthy, that is.
“Don’t ever f*cking say you’re sorry. You better go get that [belt] now. It’s your job.”
Those were the congratulatory words that Travis Browne offered Andrei Arlovski, his longtime friend, after being TKO’d by the Belarusian in what should easily be considered the frontrunner for “Fight of the Year” so far. In a fight that saw both men nearly finished, Arlovski continued his improbable run toward the heavyweight title with a brilliant upset of the #3 ranked heavyweight. I really have no words to describe how awesome this fight was, so let’s all just watch it a half dozen times in a row instead.
As is the case with Chris Weidman, I think it’s time we all stop doubting Arlovski and join the team.
So what are we left with now? Well for starters, an era in which names like Arlovski, Cerrone, and Bader (not to mention, Edgar and Lawler) have become part of their respective title pictures. Despite our apparent need for the UFC to create new stars, it seems we are equally content to rally around the ones who’ve been apart of the game for as long as many of us have been fans. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
The full results for UFC 187 are below.
Main Card (on Pay-Per-View)
Daniel Cormier def. Anthony Johnson by submission (rear-naked choke) at 2:39, R3
Chris Weidman def. Vitor Belfort via TKO (strikes) at 2:53, R1
Donald Cerrone def. John Makdessi via TKO (head kick) at 4:44, R2
Andrei Arlovski def. Travis Browne via TKO (strikes) at 4:41, R1
Joseph Benavidez def. John Moraga via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27), R3
Preliminary Card (on FOX Sports 1)
John Dodson def. Zack Makovsky via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28), R3
Dong Hyun Kim def. Josh Burkman via submission (arm-triangle choke) at 2:13, R3
Rafael Natal def. Uriah Hall via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28), R3
Rose Namajunas (2-2) vs. Nina Ansaroff (6-4) — CANCELLED
Colby Covington def. Mike Pyle by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-27), R3
Preliminary Card (on UFC Fight Pass)
Islam Makhachev def. Leo Kuntz via submission (rear-naked choke) at 2:38, R2
Justin Scoggins def. Josh Sampo via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27), R3