While to some, the big fights may lack the “big fight feel” with zero crowd inside the UFC Apex. Last night felt like an exception.
The trilogy between UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic and former Heavyweight and Light Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier clashed in the UFC 252 main event and fans were all in on what would decide who the UFC Heavyweight GOAT truly is.
Before the headliner, the show was filled with some outstanding fights including a card-opening Fight of the Night, a hype train derailed and a title fight for the ages.
UFC Heavyweight Championship: Stipe Miocic (20-3) defeated Daniel Cormier (22-3) by Unanimous Decision (48-47, 49-46 X 2)
After the first two fights ended before the final horn each by TKO, Miocic and Cormier met one final time to end a friendly-rivalry between two of the greatest UFC fighters of all-time.
In the first round, Cormier mixed up his wrestling, top game and striking to gain an early upper hand even rocking the champion in the closing ten seconds of the round. From there, the fight was basically all Miocic.
Stipe Miocic used his rangy boxing and was impressive by out-grappling Cormier in the clinch en route to a unanimous decision and would close the book on his three-year rivalry with “DC.”
Post-fight, Cormier would state that this would be hit for him saying to Joe Rogan post-fight, “I’m only interested in fighting for titles. I don’t foresee I will be fighting for [anymore] titles. That’ll be it for me, I’ve had a great run.”
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Bantamweight (135 lbs.): Marlon Vera (16-6-1) defeated Sean O’Malley (12-1) by First Round TKO (elbow) at 4:40
The “Suga Show” caught most the headlines heading into UFC 252, but it was the “Chito Show” that would catch headlines post-fight.
O’Malley landed some hard leg kicks early in the bout, but it was a kick by Vera that would compromise the lower leg/foot of O’Malley causing him to no longer be able to place weight on that leg.
Vera would capitalize once the fight his the canvas and would finish O’Malley with some nasty elbows resulting in a quick stoppage by referee Herb Dean. Some said the stoppage was too quick, but considering it would’ve been extremely difficult for O’Malley to even stand if the fight continued, the stoppage was likely for the best.
“Suga Sean” has some durability issues to address before he can be considered a major threat in the bantamweight division while “Chito” Vera is in a great position to make a leap in the bantamweight division now with six wins in a row at 135 lbs.
Heavyweight (265 lbs.): Jair Rozenstruik (11-1) defeated Junior dos Santos (21-8) by Second Round KO (punch) at 3:47
Less than four months since his knockout loss to Francis Ngannou, “Bigi Boy” jumped right back into the heavyweight shark tank against former champion Junior dos Santos in a great match-up of two talented strikers.
JDS had his moments early landed some good strikes from his traditional boxing stance, but it was the power of Rozenstruik in the second round that would drop dos Santos and some heavy shots as JDS attempted to return to his feet would drop him a second time leading to the stoppage.
Now with heavyweight wins over Arlovski, Overeem, and Dos Santos, Rozenstruik will now jump comfortably into the top five of the heavyweight ranks. A potential fight to keep an eye on is a future match-up with Derrick Lewis as a five-round headliner sometime later this year.
Catchweight (149.5 lbs.): Daniel Pineda (27-13, 2 NC) defeated Herbert Burns (11-3) by Second Round TKO (strikes) at 4:37
The Burns brothers have been on the rise in the UFC with Gilbert the top contender at welterweight while Herbert entered UFC 252 on a five-fight winning streak.
Daniel Pineda entered his second stint in the UFC returning to the promotion after six years way and would make an instant impact. Pineda would land some hard ground and pound from the top position in the opening round.
Burns would answer taking Pineda right to the ground to begin round two, but Pineda would survive some early trouble, sweep into a better position and pound out Burns with punches and elbows from the crucifix position.
For Pineda, it’s a huge win to get the ball rolling in his second run in the UFC while Burns will have some new questions to answer including what happen with his weight cut as he missed the 145 mark on Friday by nearly five pounds and didn’t look in very good shape in the loss.
Bantamweight (135 lbs.): Merab Dvalishvili (12-4) defeated John Dodson (22-12) by Unanimous Decision (30-27 X 3)
While John Dodson avoided the takedown for the most part stuffing 18 of the 20 takedown attempts from Merab, it was still the constant pressure and striking advantage that led to the clear-cut victory for Dvalishvili.
“The Machine” has now won five fights in a row all by decision since beginning his UFC run 0-2. Training alongside top bantamweight contender Aljamain Sterling, Merab is a fighter to watch in the division for the remainder of the year.
Lightweight (155 lbs.): Vinc Pichel (13-2) defeated Jim Miller (32-15) by Unanimous Decision (29-28 X 2, 29-27)
Jim Miller continues to make UFC history with his amount of fights and time inside the Octagon, but on Saturday, Vinc Pichel was the one leaving with the biggest win of his UFC career.
Pichel made his UFC debut in 2012, but injuries have led to him missing significant time over the last eight years, but “From Hell” Pichel will now look to keep some momentum following a huge win by out-wrestling and out-grappling one of the toughest guys in the lightweight division in Jim Miller.
Women’s Strawweight (115 LBS.): Virna Jandiroba (16-1) defeated Felice Herrig (14-9) by First Round Submission (armbar) at 1:44
Following a nearly two-year layoff, Felice Herrig returned to the Octagon looking to snap a two-fight losing streak but instead would run into one of the most underrated fighters in the division in Virna Jandiroba.
Jandiroba would quickly drag Herrig to the ground, work some strikes and transitions right into a slick armbar submission in just a bit over 90 seconds.
While the loss may lead to the end of the UFC run for Herrig, it puts some much-needed attention on Jandiroba who has won three of her last four fights by submission with her lone loss to former champion Carla Esparza.
Catchweight (146.5 lbs.): Daniel Chavez (11-3) defeated T.J. Brown (14-8) by Unanimous Decision (29-28 X 3)
In maybe the most under-the-radar fight on the card, Daniel Chavez made his promotion debut by defeated T.J. Brown in impressive fashion.
Chavez would land some strong strikes clearly hurting Brown early in the fight and then, would end the fight with multiple takedowns to seal the deal on a victory.
Women’s Strawweight (115 lbs.): Livia Renata Souza (14-2) defeated Ashley Yoder (7-6) by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28 X 2)
In a match-up of two talented grapplers, both Livia Souza and Ashley Yoder would fight a bit everywhere in the fifteen minutes.
Yoder held the advantage in both significant strikes and in control time, but it was Souza who would get the nod from the judges making it five wins in her last six bouts for the former Invicta champion.
Heavyweight (265 lbs.): Chris Daukaus (9-3) defeated Parker Porter (10-6) by First Round TKO (punches) at 4:28
Parker Porter had a major size advantage against Daukaus, but it would be Chris who would hold an advantage everywhere else.
Daukaus would use a great mix of power and precision striking to hurt Porter before finishing him with a lethal knee and punches on the ground leading to the stoppage towards the end of the opening round.
Featherweight (145 lbs.): Kai Kamaka III (8-2) defeated Tony Kelley (6-2) by Unanimous Decision (29-28 X 3)
In the UFC 252 Fight of the Night, two men making their UFC debut would put on an impressive fight as Kai Kamaka and Tony Kelley would land a combined 228 significant strikes.
Kamaka would have the advantage on the feet in round one and also land five takedowns in the bout to counter the grit and clinch work of Kelley leading to a unanimous decision. Both men will be fun to watch going forward in some fun future fights at 145 lbs.