UFC 214 was without question the biggest, deepest fight card of the year with three title fights and a slew of enticing matchups.
Here’s what happened Saturday night at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.
Jones stops Cormier to win back the title he never lost
Jon Jones defeated Daniel Cormier in the main event of UFC 214 to win back the light-heavyweight title.
The two elite talents began at a frenetic pace with Cormier landing the heavier strikes on Jones in a terrific opening round.
Cormier was oozing confidence and was even talking to Jones and taunting him whenever Jones would throw a strike.
Jones upped the tempo in the third and targeted the body, which set up a massive head kick that put Cormier on wobbly legs. It was the beginning of the end as Cormier went to the ground and Jones followed up with vicious ground-and-pound forcing the referee to stop the action.
Afterwards an emotional Jones broke down in tears.
Woodley shuts down Maia, defends welterweight title
Tyron Woodley defended his 170-pound UFC championship, outlasting Demian Maia en route to a unanimous decision victory.
Maia charged forward from the onset as he hunted for a takedown along the cage but Woodley landed a counter shot with his fast hands that saw Maia’s left eye swell almost completely shut. Woodley clipped Maia with a counter right early in the second stanza but didn’t follow the multiple-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion to the ground.
Woodley had only surrendered one takedown in his UFC career heading into this fight and he shook Maia off with regularity. All told he stuffed 24 takedowns Maia attempted. There were some boo birds in the stands but this was expected to be a tactical chess match and that’s exactly what we got.
UFC president Dana White said this week the plan is to have Georges St-Pierre fight the winner of the UFC 214 co-main event although nothing is official.
‘Cyborg’ finally becomes a UFC champion
It’s something MMA fans have waited years to hear.
Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino is a UFC champion, defeating Tonya Evinger by third-round TKO to become the UFC women’s featherweight champion.
Cyborg dropped Evinger with the first left hand she threw and never looked back.
Evinger was able to briefly take Cyborg down midway through the opening round and Cyborg was also the victim of an eye poke but she wasn’t phased. Cyborg, with former UFC champion Tito Ortiz in her corner, attacked Evinger’s body often and landed power strikes with impunity since Evinger had little offence to respond with.
Not only is Cyborg fierce but the Brazilian is an intelligent, well-rounded mixed martial artist. She was patient, picked her shots and got the finish in the third round, somewhere she hadn’t been since 2013.
Lawler, Cerrone live up to the hype
Robbie Lawler vs. Donald Cerrone is a combat sports fan’s dream and it lived up to the hype. Lawler, the former welterweight champion, lived up to his nickname early because he was “Ruthless” from the opening seconds, battering Cerrone with punches and knees from the clinch.
Cerrone withstood the storm and took Lawler to the ground with two minutes remaining in the opening frame to regain his composure.
Both Lawler and Cerrone were looking to rebound from knockout losses to Tyron Woodley and Jorge Masvidal, respectively, but were true to their nature and weren’t hesitant whatsoever.
In the second round, Cerrone began to take control and land combinations of his own.
Lawler was aggressive with his left kicks to the right side of Cerrone’s head and body as the third and final round got underway. Lawler continued to push the pace as the boisterous crowed roared and it resulted in a unanimous decision victory.
All three judges scored the fight 29-28 for Lawler, presumably giving him rounds one and three.
Lawler dedicated his win to his longtime friend and teammate, UFC legend Matt Hughes, who has been fighting for his life after being seriously injured in a car accident earlier this summer.
Oezdemir continues to take the 205-pound division by storm
Volkan Oezdemir has been as impressive as any fighter on the UFC roster in 2017. He upset Ovince Saint Preux in February, knocked out Misha Cirkunov in 28 seconds in March and it took him just 42 seconds to finish Jimi Manuwa Saturday night.
Oezdemir took advantage of Manuwa being relaxed in the clinch, landing a series of short left hands and planting another massive left hook on a back-pedalling Manuwa.
“I don’t know what’s happening in my hands but that’s dynamite,” Oezdemir said after the fight.
Lamas halts Knight’s momentum
No. 3-ranked featherweight Ricardo Lamas snapped Jason Knight’s four-fight winning streak and made a statement in the process with a first-round TKO.
Lamas landed haymaker after haymaker before putting away the tough-as-nails Knight on the mat.
Lamas landed 42 of the 62 significant strike attempts he threw. Lamas’s only losses in the UFC have been to current champ Max Holloway, perennial contender Chad Mendes and former champ Jose Aldo.
Sterling has dominant showing over Barao
Aljamain Sterling continued moving up the rankings with a win over former bantamweight champion Renan Barao. Sterling took a unanimous decision and should be considered a legitimate contender in the 135-pound division despite this contest taking place at a 140-pound catchweight (the California Athletic Commission would not allow Barao to cut to compete at 135 pounds due to previous health issues). Sterling is now 14-2 with his only two losses being split decisions to ranked bantamweights Rafael Assuncao and Bryan Caraway.
Sterling, a college wrestling teammate of Jon Jones, became the first fighter to land a takedown on Barao since Anthony Leone did it back at WEC 49 more than seven years ago.
Ortega, Moicano go full Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots
Brian Ortega vs. Renato Moicano was one of the many fights flying under the radar on this stacked fight card but it set the crowd ablaze as the two unbeaten, top-10 featherweights stood in a phone booth for 2 1/2 rounds.
Moicano had been getting the better of the majority of the exchanges but inexplicably went for a takedown on the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt midway through the final round. Ortega took all of five seconds to lock up a guillotine choke and force a tap.
Ortega now has four consecutive third-round stoppage wins, which is a UFC record. In fact, no other fighter in UFC history has more than two consecutive third-round stoppage wins.
Kattar makes strong impression in UFC debut against Fili
Andre Fili was originally scheduled to meet rising star Doo Ho Choi at this event so he was undoubtedly training for a dogfight yet Fili got more than he bargained for against short-notice replacement Calvin Kattar.
Kattar, a UFC newcomer who entered the fight at a +300 underdog, switched stances frequently to keep Fili off balance and he found regular success with his right hand.
Fili was never shy about firing back but couldn’t keep up with Kattar who finished each round dominantly and swept the scorecards. Kattar is now 17-2 and riding a nine-fight winning streak.
“I’ve been dreaming of this moment my whole life,” Kattar told UFC commentator Joe Rogan after the decision was announced.
Albu, Curran put on a show in strawweight slugfest
Alexandra Albu is extremely powerful. What the former competitive bodybuilder lacks in technique she more than makes up for in physical strength and she gave fellow strawweight Kailin Curran plenty of problems.
Not even an illegal up-kick from Curran in the second round slowed down the robotic Russian. Albu hadn’t fought in more than two years but improved to 3-0 in MMA after winning a unanimous decision.
Curran outlanded Albu 141-132 in total strikes but Albu was more accurate and had a 96-73 advantage in significant strikes. Curran was a highly touted prospect when she debuted in the UFC in 2014 but has gone 1-5 in the Octagon.
Brooks a new name at flyweight to keep an eye on
Eric Shelton and Jarred Brooks had a heated exchange Friday at the ceremonial weigh-ins and they carried that energy into Saturday during their intense flyweight contest, one in which Brooks walked away with a split decision victory.
Brooks and Shelton went back and forth in the first 10 minutes before Shelton rocked Brooks with a step-in right-hand shovel hook early in the third round.
Brooks recovered, they went the distance and he improved to 13-0 as a professional. Shelton meanwhile has lost both of his UFC fights by split decision.
Dober plants Burkman with a left to kick off the night
Drew Dober is an under appreciated talent in the stacked lightweight division and he showed what he’s capable of in the event’s first fight, knocking out veteran Josh Burkman in three minutes. Dober, 28, bounces back from a December submission loss to Canadian Olivier Aubin-Mercier.
Dober (18-8, 1 NC) feinted with great efficiency and it helped him set up the left that put Burkman away. Burkman (28-16, 1 NC) has now lost four straight and only has one win in his past eight after returning to the UFC.
Here are the complete results from UFC 214 lineup:
– Jon Jones def. Daniel Cormier by knockout
– Tyron Woodley def. Demian Maia by unanimous decision
– Cris “Cyborg” def. Tonya Evinger by TKO
– Robbie Lawler def. Donald Cerrone by unanimous decision
– Volkan Oezdemir def. Jimi Manuwa by knockout
– Ricardo Lamas def. Jason Knight by TKO
– Aljamain Sterling def. Renan Barao by unanimous decision
– Brian Ortega def. Renato Moicano by submission (guillotine choke)
– Calvin Kattar def. Andre Fili by unanimous decision
– Alexandra Albu def. Kailin Curran by unanimous decision
– Jarred Brooks vs. Eric Shelton by split decision
– Drew Dober def. Josh Burkman by knockout