Surprise retirements. Controversial finishes. Slick submissions. UFC 210 had a little bit of everything, including a fair amount of weird.
That includes how Daniel Cormier retained his light heavyweight championship against Anthony "Rumble" Johnson.
The end result wasn't the surprise. It ended with Cormier locking in a rear-naked choke on the challenger—just as their fight finished at UFC 187.
What was surprising, however, was Johnson's strategy in the fight.
Rumble—known for his incredible knockout power—opted to wrestle with the former Olympian. Johnson pinned Cormier against the fence early in Round 1 and even took down the champion. It was enough for him to actually win the opening round, per Matt Erickson of MMAjunkie:
However, Johnson's plan proved to be unsustainable, as Cormier took charge in the second frame. He reversed the roles and scored a takedown of his own. From there, his transitional grappling took over, and he eventually worked his way to Rumble's back and forced the tap.
The odd didn't stop there, though.
Rather than interviewing Cormier first, Rumble addressed the crowd members to let them know that he was walking away from the sport, per Shaheen Al-Shatti of MMA Fighting:
It was a puzzling night for one of the most dangerous men in the sport. However, it was business as usual for Cormier.
After defending his belt once again, he unsurprisingly took aim at longtime rival Jon Jones along with light heavyweight contender Jimi Manuwa, according to Ben Fowlkes of MMAjunkie:
It was an interesting night of fights to say the least. The theatrics of the main event matched the tenor of the rest of the night, including a controversial finish, the retirement of another UFC veteran and some good finishes.
Here's a look at the complete results and a closer look at the main card fights.
UFC 210 Main Card
- Daniel Cormier def. Anthony Johnson, submission (Round 2, 3:37)
- Gegard Mousasi def. Chris Weidman, TKO (Round 2, 3:13)
- Cynthia Calvillo def. Pearl Gonzalez, Submission (Round 3, 3:45)
- Thiago Alves def. Patrick Cote, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Charles Oliveira def. Will Brooks, submission (Round 1, 2:30)
Prelims on Fox Sports 1
- Myles Jury def. Mike De La Torre, TKO (Round 1, 3:30)
- Kamaru Usman def. Sean Strickland, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26, 30-26)
- Shane Burgos def. Charles Rosa, TKO (Round 3, 1:59)
- Patrick Cummins def. Jan Blachowicz, majority decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-28)
Prelims on UFC Fight Pass
- Gregor Gillespie def. Andrew Holbrook, knockout (Round 1, 0:21)
- Desmond Green def. Josh Emmett, split-decision (28-29, 29-28, 30-27)
- Katlyn Chookagian def. Irene Aldana, split-decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
- Magomed Bibulatov def. Jenel Lausa, unanimous decision (29-26, 29-26, 29-26)
Chris Weidman vs. Gegard Mousasi
Even with a light heavyweight title fight headlining, this card might best be remembered for the controversial finish to the middleweight co-main event between Chris Weidman and Gegard Mousasi.
Facing a third loss in a row, Weidman came out of the gates strong, securing two takedowns in the first round and even landing some solid shots in the stand-up.
Then things got weird.
Mousasi took charge at the beginning of the second frame, but Weidman answered with another takedown attempt. Although the attempt was stuffed, Weidman put both hands on the ground to make himself a grounded opponent. As he lifted one of the hands, Mousasi hit the former champion with two knees to the head.
While the first was clearly legal, the second was deemed illegal. Referee Dan Miragliotta called a stop to the action because of the perceived infraction, however, he was informed that the knee was legal, and the fight was called a TKO victory for Mousasi.
However, as Jonathan Snowden of Bleacher Report notes, the New York Commission doesn't use replay, so there was confusion as to how a call can be overturned by replay:
Ultimately it was a confusing end to a fight that appeared to be headed toward being a great one.
Cynthia Calvillo vs. Pearl Gonzalez
Cynthia Calvillo made a statement at UFC 209 when she came in on 10 days' notice to beat Amanda Cooper on the main card.
At UFC 210, she legitimatized that result.
The Team Alpha Male fighter overwhelmed Gonzalez with volume in the opening round, then finished up the opening frame with a near-submission by triangle choke.
In the second round, Gonzalez scored a takedown that put her directly into mount and work for an armbar, putting Calvillo's chances in question. Instead of falling victim, though, Calvillo used her slick transitions to slide out of that submission and take her opponent's back.
Calvillo is quickly showing that the ground isn't a place where opponents will thrive against her. In the third frame, she took the back once more and wouldn't be denied the rear-naked choke.
Two UFC wins in back-to-back pay-per-views is certainly a rarity. It's even more unlikely for someone who hasn't even been fighting that long. Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful Online noted Calvillo's relative lack of experience:
After that display of well-rounded game, Calvillo is a name to keep an eye on.
Patrick Cote vs. Thiago Alves
In a battle of UFC veterans, it was Thiago Alves who proved that he has a lot more left in the tank against Patrick Cote.
Cote wanted to push the pace in the fight, and Alves was more than happy to oblige. While Cote came charging forward with inefficient combinations, Pitbull was able to be the more technical, consistent counter-striker, and it stopped Cote dead in his track on more than one occasion.
Patrick Wyman of Bleacher Report praised the impressive performance:
Alves' consistency paid off, as he swept all three rounds on the judges' scorecards.
It was an encouraging performance from the Brazilian after a failed attempt to get down to 155 pounds last time out. With as many fighters that have had a career renaissance, it isn't out of the question that Alves, who has battled injuries and inconsistency in the past, could be coming back at 33 years old.
There will be no comeback for Cote, however.
After the fight, the Canadian called it a career—something he planned on doing after this bout win or lose, according to MMA Fighting:
Cote's career began in 2004 with a loss to Tito Ortiz, and he once challenged Anderson Silva for the middleweight title.
Will Brooks vs. Charles Oliveira
Charles Oliveira has always been a man with a ton of talent, but he doesn't always put it together in the cage.
This time, Do Bronx turned in one of the best performances of his life in his return to the lightweight division.
Taking on a former Bellator champion in Will Brooks, Oliveira showed no fear in securing a surprise takedown early in the first round and went right to work advancing position. After just over two minutes of jockeying for position, Oliveira latched onto a standing rear-naked choke that eventually forced the tap.
Brooks is a serious threat in the lightweight division, so this is a huge boost for the 27-year-old's stock in the lightweight division.
After going 1-3 in his last four fights in the featherweight division, Oliveira would be wise to remain in the division. Shaheen Al-Shatti of MMA Fighting encouraged the fighter to do so:
However, Oliveira expressed his desire to go back down to 145 pounds, for some reason, per Bleacher Report MMA:
For Brooks this is a devastating loss. It's now his second loss in a row. He lost to Alex Oliveira last time out and is now 1-2 since joining the UFC.
While Charles Oliveira was one of the biggest winners on the night, Brooks' career may have taken the most damaging blow at the event.