UFC 232 Results: The Real Winners and Losers
Just another chapter in the Jon Jones saga.
I won't try to catch you up on the reasons UFC 232 relocated from Las Vegas to Inglewood, California, barely a week before the event. The specifics of Jones' drug-test controversy deserve an analysis that goes beyond this event recap.
It's a mess! That's what it is. But Jones remains the consensus best fighter on this planet. And for the moment, fans who complained about the whole thing probably purchased the pay-per-view anyway, because his opponent Saturday, Alexander Gustafsson, previously pushed Jones further than anyone had before or since. Did it happen again?
The rest of the card was solid as well. In a rare turn of events, the evening's title fight was not the main event. Cris "Cyborg" Justino put her women's featherweight belt on the line against bantamweight champ Amanda Nunes, who moved up to 145 pounds for the occasion.
There was plenty of drama all around the card, and as usual, the final stat lines did not reveal all. These are the real winners and losers from UFC 232.
For the literal-minded among us, full card results appear at the end.
Winner: Jon Jones
He's an imperfect GOAT. But he's the GOAT nonetheless. And Jones did his thing again Saturday, shaking off his latest drug-testing difficulty to hammer Gustafsson until Jones had the newly vacant light heavyweight belt around his waist again.
The first round was a relative stalemate, although Jones likely took it 10-9. In the second, Jones landed a takedown on the Swede, and that was the beginning of the end. Jones worked upward on Gustafsson's body until Gus felt compelled to give up his back.
Sensing a tipping point with his magic fighting computer, Jones grabbed control and then began to beat on Gustafsson's head in earnest. Like, he reached back with his long arms and just hammered. It didn't take long for referee Mike Beltran to call a stop to the bout. No one complained.
So what's next? In his post-fight interview, Jones referred to Daniel Cormier, the UFC heavyweight champ who was a two-division title-holder until earlier this week, when he relinquished his 205-pound title. Oh, by the way, Jones has beaten Cormier twice (though one bout turned into a no-contest after a failed drug test from Jones), and they hate each other.
"What kind of guy just gives up his belt," Jones told broadcaster Joe Rogan in the cage after the fight. "Daddy's home, DC. Prove to the fans you're a champ-champ. Come get a taste. I'm here. Get your belt back."
In the meantime, Jones hasn't lost inside the cage. It's the outside stuff that stops him.
Winner: Amanda Nunes
We have a new entrant in the women's MMA GOAT conversation: Amanda Nunes.
Could Nunes be No. 1 in that discussion? It's not a weird argument after UFC 232, in which Nunes knocked out the great Cyborg Justino early in the first round to become the women's featherweight and bantamweight champion.
Here are the other people who have held two UFC titles at the same time: Daniel Cormier and Conor McGregor. And now, Nunes.
There isn't much to analyze. Cyborg thought she could take Nunes' punches, but then she couldn't. Nunes just kept hammering Cyborg down the pipe until Cyborg's chin failed her.
Nunes is great. A great fighter, a great champion, a great representative of MMA. Get used to her presence and enjoy it. Or bring on the next one.
Loser: Megan Anderson
Here's hoping Cat Zingano is OK. Megan Anderson fired a high kick early in the fight, and her toes made deep contact with Zingano's eye.
Sorry to be gross, but I want to be clear: Zingano, one of the toughest fighters in women's MMA or anywhere else, squinted the eye and essentially stopped fighting. Referee Marc Goddard, who is well-respected, waved off the contest.
It was Anderson's first UFC win. None of this was her fault, at least not in a way anyone could see in the moment. But it was a little strange when Anderson went over to proudly take her W, even as a respected competitor in Zingano remained along the fence, unable to come to the middle for the decision and clearly kind of terrified about what just happened.
"Just doing my job," Anderson said to Rogan. "Just doing my job."
Well, OK. After maybe the third time Rogan gave her the chance, Anderson acknowledged that Zingano was a tough opponent.
Yeah, we get you were just doing your job. But a proven UFC fighter may have a difficult injury. Maybe you, the injurer, could be a bit more magnanimous. It's weird when people hide possible guilt behind the guise of their job duties.
Winner: Alexander Volkanovski
Welcome to Thunderdome.
Aussie Alexander Volkanovski waged a protracted battle with Chad Mendes, took the best the other man had to offer and then poured it on late in the second round to get the win.
It was easily the biggest victory of his career—UFC or otherwise—particularly since he called for Mendes beforehand. He's shown terrific striking before, but against an opponent in Mendes who has solid striking of his own (wrestling is his base, but still), he showed he deserves to be in the contender mix.
"I knew this would get me in front. I knew this would get me top five," he told Rogan.
We'll see who he gets next. Either way, it will be interesting.
Loser: BJ Penn
There's no telling how many times we'll need to watch this movie. BJ Penn has plenty of company among MMA legends who kept going despite good advice and evidence not to.
On Saturday, the 40-year-old former two-division champ suffered a submission defeat for the first time in his career. Ryan Hall locked on a heel hook—a notoriously painful and potentially damaging move—to elicit the tap at not even three minutes into the first round.
Hall was vocal about his respect for Penn, and he acknowledged—delicately but clearly—that Penn is maybe, just maybe, no longer at the top of his game, per MMA Fighting's Shaun Al-Shatti.
This was Hall's first fight since 2016—a hiatus he told Al-Shatti came for a variety of reasons. He's a widely recognized wizard on the ground. Maybe the jiu-jitsu world champion is an interesting addition to the featherweight division. I don't know, but maybe.
Even if not, I believe Hall felt Penn was washed up because, well, Penn is washed up. If Penn wants to keep going, then that's great. No one can tell him when to hang it up—and so forth with the talking points we always hear on this. But Penn hasn't won since 2010. He seems to be the only one not in on the joke.
Winner: Curtis Millender
Don't look now, but Curtis Millender hasn't lost a fight in the UFC welterweight division. Who'll stop him?
Sure, it's only three fights, but in the larger world of MMA, he hasn't lost since 2015. In this decision win over the perpetually tough Siyar Bahadurzada, Millender dealt out plenty of pressure, controlled range and pace, and was essentially the better fighter in every phase. Except the ground phase, which was terribly uneven.
If he gets some takedown defense, he'll be cooking with gas.
UFC 232 Full Card Results
Jon Jones def. Alexander Gustafsson by TKO, 2:02, Rd. 3
Amanda Nunes def. Cris Cyborg by KO, 0:51, Rd. 1 (for the UFC women's featherweight championship)
Michael Chiesa def. Carlos Condit by submission (kimura), 0:56, Rd. 2
Corey Anderson def. Ilir Latifi by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Alexander Volkanovski def. Chad Mendes by TKO, 4:14, Rd. 2
Walt Harris def. Andrei Arlovski by split decision (29-28, 27-30, 29-28)
Megan Anderson def. Cat Zingano by TKO (eye injury), 1:01, Rd. 1
Petr Yan def. Douglas Silva de Andrade by TKO, 5:00, Rd. 2
Ryan Hall def. BJ Penn by submission (heel hook), 2:46, Rd. 1
Nathaniel Wood def. Andre Ewell by submission (rear-naked choke), 4:12, Rd. 3
Uriah Hall def. Bevon Lewis by KO, 1:32, Rd. 3
Curtis Millender def. Siyar Bahadurzada by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Montel Jackson def. Brian Kelleher by submission (D'Arce choke), 1:40, Rd. 1
Scott Harris writes about MMA and other things for Bleacher Report and other places. If you have questions or bones to pick or anything like that, hit me on Twitter.