Last night UFC 187 gave fans a great memorial day weekend with an exciting night of fights, including the crowning of your new Light Heavyweight champion, Daniel Cormier.
Along with Chris Weidman, who retained his UFC Middleweight Championship belt with a quick 1st round TKO win over Vitor Belfort, Cormier’s submission victory over Anthony Johnson completed one of the best UFC cards of all time.
The epic fight almost didn’t take place, and was totally dependent on the unfortunate hit-and-run incident involving former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones.
After the accident, a marijuana pipe and cash were found in Jones' car after he returned to the scene briefly to retrieve some money, even tossing some at his pregnant collision victim while feeing the scene.
Cormier vs. Johnson was an attempt to salvage a stellar card and UFC matchmakers, Joe Silva and Sean Shelby, definitely succeeded in that.
Prior to Jones’ last fight a random out of competition drug test revealed cocaine metabolites in his system and the results were revealed after his unanimous decision victory over Daniel Cormier last January at UFC 182.
The UFC decided to strip Jones of his title and pull Jones from their roster effective immediately. Blue chip sponsors, rarely seen in combat sports, flew from his grasp and Jones is now in limbo awaiting trial for the hit and run incident in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Cormier’s victory speech was squarely aimed at Jones; he looked into the camera and adamantly stated before storming out the cage:
“I have a message for one man. Jon Jones, get your sh*t together. I’m waiting for you.”
The questions are lingering around Cormier regarding Jones because he was beaten in their fight prior to Johnson. Cormier started out fast in that matchup but ultimately seemed to run out of gas in the later rounds, eventually succumbing to the weird striking angles of Jones.
At the post press conference of the 12,615-person attended event, Cormier got into a heated verbal altercation with Ryan Bader saying, “I want the easiest fight in the division, I want Ryan Bader. Just give me my paycheck right now.”
Bader was escorted out of the press conference as he approached the podium but the message is clear, Cormier is here and he is ready to let the world know it is his time.
Cormier had no losses before his fight against Jones and he entered the UFC as the Strikeforce Heavyweight Tournament Champion. He knocked out considerably larger opponents like Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva and won a unanimous decision victory over Josh Barnett to become champion.
Cormier has been the underdog from the start and I for one believe he will stay an underdog champion, which is good for his brand. Time will tell if he will be considered a hero or a heel by calling out different fighters in front of the camera and behind the scenes simultaneously.
However, Cormier will have to answer the question of Jones as the true champion if Jones is allowed to return to the Octagon, especially if he is not indicted.
Hats off to Anthony Johnson who battled back from three years of being outside of the UFC to get back into the promotion and secure a title shot. In his losing speech he said, “Never give up, just never give up,” a true statement from a crazy journey back across multiple MMA promotions, weight class changes and top tier opponents
UFC 187 is in the history books, and even though UFC has lost one star in Jones, it was an epic showing that proves interest in the promotion can always be revived one card at a time.
And that new stars can always be born.