UFC 214 Results: The Real Winners and Losers from Jones vs. Cormier 2
In a paper world, Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier 2 had a case as the best fight in MMA history. Did the real world deliver Saturday?
Jones, who many believe is the best MMA fighter ever, returned after steeping for two years in a heady brew of suspension and personal problems, all of which were well-documented. At UFC 214, he was returning to take what was his, namely the UFC light heavyweight championship and his ranking as the MMA GOAT.
In his way was Daniel Cormier, the current champion whose only pro loss came to Jones. Oh, and they don't like each other. Genuinely. At all.
If that weren't enough, it was only one of three title fights on the evening. The other two saw Cristiane "Cyborg" Justino and Tonya Evinger fight for the vacant women's featherweight crown and Demian Maia challenge Tyron Woodley for the welterweight strap.
But there was more. This was the kind of talent-dense card that can't be recapped by one single result or stat line. As such, these are the real winners and losers from UFC 214 in Anaheim, California.
For the literal-minded among us, full card results appear at the end.
Winner: Jon Jones
In a superb fight, Jones and Cormier both had their moments. After the fight, it was an emotional scene that MMA fans might remember for almost as long as the fight itself.
The first two rounds were close, with Jones landing with more volume but Cormier staying active and appearing to do a bit more damage, landing with an uppercut and a right hand. Jones is dangerous in the clinch, thanks in large part to those hellacious knees, but Cormier waded in time after time, using wrist control to help increase his leverage.
Although observers varied on the scoring, it's probably safe to say it was one round apiece heading into the third, with Cormier perhaps enjoying the slightest of edges.
The stalemate broke in emphatic fashion about halfway through the third round. Jones landed a head kick that put Cormier on roller skates, and Jones attacked like a shark on an injured tuna. A left hook, then a trip, then a jumping knee put Cormier on the ground. Relentless punches and elbows eventually knocked Cormier unconscious, and the old champion was new again.
As Bruce Buffer prepared to read the decision, Cormier came to and, appearing disoriented, seemed to want to approach Jones. Officials wouldn't let him do it. Cormier then took his place for the official announcement, only to turn and exit the cage, leaving Jones alone. After the decision was read, Jones collapsed in a heap in the cage, tearfully overwhelmed by the moment.
"I made it back, man," Jones told broadcaster Joe Rogan in the cage after the fight. "It's a beautiful moment."
As the interview went on, Cormier made his way back into the cage, but now he was weeping. But Jones wasn't interested in continuing the rivalry and instead attempted to bury the hatchet.
"I want to thank Daniel Cormier for being my biggest rival and motivator," Jones said in part, before going over to Cormier and kissing him on the head. Cormier, still emotional, couldn't bring himself to embrace Jones back.
When asked about the rivalry by Rogan—who, along with his various colleagues in the production truck, should think twice about interviewing people who were just knocked unconscious in a prize fight—Cormier said "if he won both fights, I guess there is no rivalry."
It was that kind of scene. Raw emotion from arguably the two best light heavyweights ever after one of the most compelling fights of the year.
But it wasn't done just yet.
Jones picked up the mic again.
"Brock Lesnar!" he shouted. "If you want to know what it feels like to get your ass kicked by someone who weighs 40 pounds less than you, come meet me in the Octagon."
And with that, Jones dropped the mic and made his way out of the cage.
I would pick Jones in that fight and not hesitate to do it. Jones is the greatest fighter in the history of MMA. He has the belt he's supposed to have and he's back. He was classy in this victory, with kind words not just for Cormier but also for fans and haters.
Jones may have played the face role a little overzealously at times in the past, but that doesn't mean he isn't a good person. MMA fans should be glad he has returned and is, along with Conor McGregor, once again at the top.
Loser: Tyron Woodley
Let's be clear: Tyron Woodley is great at what he does. He neutralizes the other man's game plan and inflicts enough damage to win the fight.
And yet, the bulk of his efforts are not exciting. Does he need to be exciting to defend his title, as he did Saturday against Demian Maia? Of course not.
But sports don't happen in a bubble. It's entertainment, and the consumers want reasons to consume. If you don't care about entertainment, it will cost you in certain ways. You'll hear boos, as Woodley did Saturday (although more on the Anaheim boo birds later). You may miss out on big opportunities, such as Woodley's stated desire to face Conor McGregor in a superfight. You may miss out on other things that go along with being exciting.
Either way, Woodley's takedown defense was impeccable, turning away each and every one of Maia's attempts. His power was in effect early, when he hammered Maia with that big right hand and closed Maia's eye. He seemed to take no damage of his own.
But the final three-plus rounds were largely uneventful. The crowd chanted "boring." It again booed Woodley as his name was read as the winner. According to UFC stat keeper Michael Carroll, this fight featured the third-fewest strikes of any title fight in history, with a combined total of 86. That is pitiful.
"It doesn't bother me at all, because you go in there against a jiu-jitsu specialist," Woodley told Rogan after the fight when asked about the boos.
So, yes, Woodley has defended his title for the second time (third if you count the draw with Stephen Thompson). He did it in a "smart" way. But he delivered no discernible offense of his own outside the first few minutes, and he didn't win many fans. Is that, in the long term, the smartest thing? Can't you be smart and exciting?
There also may be a tactical issue at play. When you're conservative to the point of being inert, what happens when you find yourself down on the scorecards? Eventually, you need offense as well as defense.
Woodley may not care, and that's great. But even if he doesn't, this style might cost him someday, if it hasn't already. Plenty of fans would contend that it has surely cost them.
Cristiane "Cyborg" Justino is a UFC champion.
Through all the times when the UFC did not have women's divisions, to the times when it seemed to reject Cyborg's talent or appeal, to the times when the UFC wouldn't open a women's featherweight class.
The 32-year-old has gathered large and small titles during a pro career that has now lasted 20 fights. She's been a pro for 12 years. She has been in the UFC for one.
It's been a long road for Cyborg, but it all culminated Saturday.
Tonya Evinger fought a smart and tough fight, taking punishment as it came but limiting damage by tying up Cyborg when she came too close or scuttling away when she needed to. Evinger is a brave opponent and a good fighter in her own right, and she deserves credit for taking an assignment no one else seemed to want.
But she was overmatched from the get-go. The fight lasted into the third round, but the proceeding carried a sense of impending doom.
The doom arrived in the form of knee strikes. Cyborg wrapped Evinger in a thai clinch, pushing Evinger's head down into her rising knees. Brutal. About four of those and Evinger crumpled.
"My career is just beginning," Cyborg told Rogan in the cage after the fight.
It took an awfully long time to make it happen. It's only logical the new champ's reign would (and could) be equally long.
Loser: Anaheim Fans
Robbie Lawler vs. Donald Cerrone was everything fight fans hoped it would be.
Unless, apparently, you were one of the people there in person in Anaheim.
The two went three scintillating rounds, taking turns inflicting their unique brands of violence. Lawler came out like a house of fire, clinching with Cerrone and punishing him in close. He was trying to break Cerrone, but Cerrone refused to comply, eventually getting a takedown and racking up control time to stop the punishment.
In the second, it was Cerrone's turn. Much of the round occurred from longer range, where Cerrone was able to fire off his trademark head kicks and dart in for elbows.
The third was an amalgam of the first two, with both men landing but Lawler appearing to inflict more damage, particularly from close distance.
The judges all scored it 29-28 for Lawler. After the fight, there were boos through the crowd, presumably from Cerrone fans who were disappointed he lost a close fight.
Afterward, Lawler dedicated his win to Matt Hughes, the retired welterweight who is fighting for his life after his truck was struck by a train.
"He's fighting a lot harder than me right now," Lawler told Rogan in the cage after the fight. "This one's for you, buddy."
Oddly, the boos continued.
Winner: Volkan Oezdemir
His nickname is "No Time." And he means it.
Volkan Oezdemir fought like he had dinner plans in a burning restaurant, knocking out the favored Jimi Manuwa a mere 42 seconds into the main card opener.
They engaged in the clinch, where Oezdemir was able to land a left hook. That buckled Manuwa, and Oezdemir went in pursuit, chasing him with huge overhand bombs. They landed, Manuwa fell and the referee called it off. It was his 11th career knockout and second quick one in a row—just two months ago, he upset Misha Cirkunov in 28 seconds.
Afterward, Oezdemir called for the winner of the evening's main event. There's no reason not to make that fight. Oezdemir is a fresh face for a stale light heavyweight division, and his quick-KO kickboxing is easy to sell.
Loser: Renan Barao
Who knows why this stuff happens.
Maybe it's all those battles—in Renan Barao's case, Saturday's decision loss to Aljamain Sterling was his 40th as a pro.
Maybe it's all those weight cuts—for each pro fight at bantamweight, he has shed, by his own estimation, 22 pounds to make weight, using draconian methods in the process. He has missed fights before for reasons related to cutting weight. It's why the California State Athletic Commission refused to license Barao at 135 pounds, forcing the fight to become a 140-pound catchweight affair.
Maybe it's something else, but the Barao who just three years ago was the UFC bantamweight champ with a 22-fight win streak doesn't seem to be around anymore. He's still only 30 years old, but he is 2-4 since losing the title in May 2014 and hasn't looked great even in victory.
Take nothing away from Sterling, who was able to get Barao to the ground despite Barao's vaunted takedown defense. He outstruck Barao, whose muay thai used to be fearsome. There was a flatness to Barao that led to a lopsided loss. The judges' scorecards—29-28, 29-27 and 30-26—are evidence of that.
It's always been a saying that when a fighter's skills go, they go fast. That is apparently true of Barao, but no one expected this precipitous a drop.
Winner: Calvin Kattar
Calvin Kattar got the call July 15, two weeks before the card, to face Andre Fili.
A virtual unknown out of Massachusetts, his addition was seen as a major step down from the man he was replacing, Korean knockout sensation Doo Ho Choi. As a result, oddsmakers upgraded Fili to a -500 favorite, according to OddsShark. That made him the second-biggest favorite on the card, behind only Cyborg.
Using unspectacular but effective boxing, Kattar pieced up Fili for 15 minutes, appearing to simultaneously throw less and land more. Fili threw plenty but couldn't get much through, while on the other hand Kattar repeatedly landed solid combinations punctuated by a right hand. Fili faded backward, having no answer.
It was a great, if unexpected, debut for Kattar. He's such an unknown quantity that it's hard to know what might be next for him in the crowded featherweight division. But it'll be something.
Loser: Jarred Brooks
It was an interesting UFC debut for undefeated flyweight prospect Jarred Brooks.
Facing a veteran of The Ultimate Fighter in Eric Shelton, Brooks came out in his signature trademark style: high-octane wrestle-boxing. Well, he must have had an extra pot of coffee or three because his darting and feinting was redlining throughout the bout. It was fun to watch but didn't matter much, as Shelton was able to counter him frequently.
The two traded takedowns—something that was supposed to be Brooks' domain between these two—then Shelton cracked Brooks in the third to swing the momentum his way.
Or so it would seem.
The judges handed the split decision to Brooks with two 29-28 scores for him and one 29-28 for Shelton. Meanwhile, a panel of media voters at MMA Decisions echoed the booing crowd, going for Shelton by a 16-2 margin.
Hopefully Shelton gets another chance. Brooks lives to fight another day, but he was lucky to get his W and keep his record, now 13-0, unblemished.
UFC 214 Full Card Results
Jon Jones def. Daniel Cormier by KO, 3:01, Rd. 3 (wins UFC light heavyweight championship)
Tyron Woodley def. Demian Maia by unanimous decision (defends UFC welterweight championship)
Cristiane "Cyborg" Justino def. Tonya Evinger by TKO, 1:56, Rd. 3 (wins UFC women's featherweight championship)
Robbie Lawler def. Donald Cerrone by unanimous decision
Volkan Oezdemir def. Jimi Manuwa by KO, 0:42, Rd. 1
Ricardo Lamas def. Jason Knight by TKO, 4:34, Rd. 1
Aljamain Sterling def. Renan Barao by unanimous decision
Brian Ortega def. Renato Moicano by submission (guillotine choke), 2:59, Rd. 3
Calvin Kattar def. Andre Fili by unanimous decision
Alexandra Albu def. Kailin Curran by unanimous decision
Jarred Brooks def. Eric Shelton by split decision
Drew Dober def. Josh Burkman by KO, 3:04, Rd. 1