It proved to be a historic evening as Daniel Cormier became the first fighter to successfully defend a title in two different divisions when he easily dismantled Derrick Lewis at UFC 230. Was it fun to watch? No. Was it impressive as hell? You bet your sweet ass it was. Given how you feel about Jon Jones, the case for Cormier as the GOAT is stronger than ever as Cormier has steamrolled through the best that two divisions has had to offer.
It isn’t like that was the only notable contest on the show. Jacare Souza and Chris Weidman put on a spectacular showing that even the most optimistic of fans didn’t expect. Jacare put Weidman on Dream Street in the third round, keeping alive his hopes of contention while Weidman may have permanently been eliminated from that picture. However, the image of Israel Adesanya looms large for everyone in the middleweight picture… more specifically for those near the top. Despite having made his UFC debut only earlier this year, Adesanya made an impactful statement that he’s ready for the best.
Daniel Cormier: There isn’t much that needs to be said about his contest with Lewis. Cormier was the better wrestler and we all knew it. He took down the larger man, worked him over when he could, and dragged him right back down when Lewis powered back up. I don’t see anyone going back to watch that contest for the sheer pleasure of it, though it does clearly define Cormier’s dominance.
Though he isn’t going to be the two-division champion for much longer, Cormier has never been riding higher. With a high-profile contest with Brock Lesnar looming in the near-distant future, Cormier probably has the biggest payday in his career awaiting him as he draws nearer to the close of his career. Things really couldn’t be better for the champ.
Jacare Souza: Jacare’s win over Weidman may be the most impressive of his career. At 38, coming off a controversial loss to Kelvin Gastelum, Jacare fell into an early hole against Weidman, potentially with a broken nose. The Brazilian veteran dug deep, began throwing bombs, and eventually caught Weidman with one of them to the temple for the win. Jacare faces the hurdle of having already lost to the participants in the next middleweight title contest in Gastelum and Robert Whittaker, but he’s still alive in the title picture which is far more than what Weidman can say.
Jared Cannonier: I wasn’t sure how wise it was for Cannonier to cut all the way down to 185. The former heavyweight emphatically proved me wrong. Not having to muscle up the additional 20 pounds his opponents were carrying at light heavyweight proved to be a major positive for him as he got right back up every time David Branch took him down. After wearing out Branch, Cannonier found the striking openings he was looking for and turned out the lights on the former WSOF two-division champion. Cannonier put himself on the fast-track for contention in the process. Best win of his career by far.
Karl Roberson: Admittedly, Roberson didn’t put on a very entertaining contest. However, he did show a lot of patience in his methodical picking apart of Jack Marshman and even mixed in a couple of well-timed, powerful takedowns. Keep in mind, he is just a bit over three years into his professional career. Roberson has a lot more room for growth.
Israel Adesanya: Adesanya made a HUGE statement in his win over Brunson. Despite the longtime veteran getting an opportunity to execute his game plan, Adesanya remained vertical and proceeded to pick apart Brunson with surgical precision. This dude is a scary, scary man. Like I already said, I’m happy to see him in a title eliminator with Jacare. Some may declare that’s cruelty to the elderly, but who else is in position for a title fight?
Jordan Rinaldi: Very few were entertained by Rinaldi’s performance – it was basically 15 minutes of him riding Jason Knight’s back — but even fewer expected him to walk out of the cage with a victory. That alone is enough to make Rinaldi a winner as he probably was going to be released had he lost.
Sheymon Moraes: Despite having his ass handed to him in his UFC debut by Zabit Magomedsharipov, Moraes has rebounded about as well as a person can rebound from such a loss. Well… at least without getting a finish. Moraes disposed of a very game Julio Arce by displaying his power, knocking down his fellow Brazilian on a couple of occasions. And did y’all catch the elbow that cut up Arce? I don’t know if that was luck or technique, but I tend to lean towards technique in those situations. Glad to see him recover as well as he has.
Zabit Magomedsharipov: Y’all remember how easily Zabit disposed of Moraes about a year ago? Yeah, this dude is FOR REAL. Can we please get him a high-profile fight soon?
Lyman Good: The former Bellator champion hasn’t been able to get his footing in the UFC due to injuries and a PED suspension. If his KO of Ben Saunders is any indication, Good looks like he’s in a very good place. Good hasn’t been known for his power, but that feels disingenuous given half of his career victories have ended thanks to his striking prowess. Here’s hoping Good can get to a regular fight schedule as he’s been fun to watch in every one of his appearances thus far.
Matt Frevola and Lando Vannata: Sure, the pace of the fight slowed a bit after an insanely frenetic first round, but it was never lacking for action at any point. Both were full of it when they claimed they weren’t hurt by one another when Joe Rogan interviewed them, but we should let them have that after surviving that contest. The bottom line is both threw heavy leather, both ate heavy leather, and both deserve mad respect for being willing the throwdown in the manner they did.
Shane Burgos: The New York native may have been losing the contest until the point Kurt Holobaugh knocked him on his ass, but he never looked panicked at any time. It was as if he knew he was going to get the win one way or another. That type of confidence is key to a fighter rising up the ranks. Nobody saw the armbar from the guard coming as Burgos showed a side no one was sure he possessed. Given Burgos has yet to be in a boring fight, he’s on his way to becoming a longtime staple and fan favorite.
Urinators: Adesanya and Cannonier both stopped to lift their leg on the cage as they made their way into the Octagon, symbolically marking their territory. Both of them secured definitive wins via KO. It’s worth asking if we’re going to see more of this moving forward.
Chris Weidman: Weidman has now lost four of his last five, all of them via KO/TKO stoppage. I think it’s safe to say Weidman is chinny enough that the likelihood of him ever getting back into a title fight is slim and none. It’s a shame as Weidman is a very likeable dude and looked better than he has since he lost the title early on. He was piecing up Jacare with his jab, following up with the occasional power shot, and flat out wearing down Jacare. Weidman’s chin even withstood many of the powerful shots thrown by Jacare. The problem is that they add up and chins don’t get better. At least he took home an extra $50K….
David Branch: It was supposed to be Branch’s opportunity against an elite fighter in Jacare. Instead, Branch got blasted by a late substitution he was supposed to easily dispose of when Jacare was moved in to face Weidman. Unless Cannonier is able to blast every opponent in his way from this point forth, Branch’s hopes for contention died in the process.
Jack Marshman: Most expected Marshman to lose, so he isn’t necessarily here for that. What was expected was that Marshman would dirty things up and make the fight exciting. Aside from brief flashes, the Welshman didn’t do that. The loss drops him to 2-3 in the UFC with both of his wins coming over a pair of fighters no longer on the roster. I don’t think he’s getting cut yet, but he’s probably on thin ice.
Derek Brunson: Credit to him for trying to fight more intelligently – he did try to close the distance and take Adesanya down – but he still tends to lead with his chin. He may have led with his chin in a different way this time when he dived for a takedown, but it gave Adesanya the opening he was looking for. Brunson looks like he’s bumped up against his ceiling, which is far below what his physical talent would indicate. Where he’s gotten is no small achievement, but he certainly could have done more.
Jason Knight: I hate to admit it, but Knight was a hot enough commodity 16 months ago that I picked him to overthrow Ricardo Lamas. Instead, Lamas brutalized Knight and The Kid has never been the same since. Aside from the opening minute when Knight was throwing his strikes with authority, Knight showed zero of the confidence and swagger that led to him picking up the moniker of Hick Diaz. Now he’s lost four in a row. Whatever Knight had before this losing streak is long gone and the UFC needs to cut their losses. Time to move on.
Roxanne Modafferi: Universally loved by the MMA community, Modafferi may very have seen her last opportunity to gain a title shot go by the wayside. Even worse, it came against an opponent who couldn’t make weight. Despite that, Modafferi was still willing to take the fight. She may regret that decision. Modafferi isn’t calling it a career by any means quite yet, but she’s been doing this for a long time. At some point, she has to start slowing down… right?
Ben Saunders: Saunders is a favorite of the Bloody Elbow community. We’ve never shied away from our rooting interest in that. It also makes it that much harder to see Saunders get knocked silly as many times as he has in recent years. Patrick Cote. Peter Sobotta. Alan Jouban. All of them have tucked Saunders into bed for a nap. Is it nearing time for Saunders to hang it up? I know he’s always been chinny, but he’s been getting worse. It might be time for Saunders to consider career options very soon.
Kurt Holobaugh: I was reluctant to put Holobaugh here as he looked fantastic before he was submitted. His combinations were sharp and his kicks were on point too. Then he puts Burgos on his ass… and walked right into the armbar from Burgos. Burgos smile once he was put on his ass should have been a big sign Holobaugh needed to exercise a bit more caution before he looked to put the finishing touches on. I don’t know how contracts from the Contender Series work, but the UFC would be wise to give him at least one more fight as Holobaugh has been a LOT of fun in both contests since his UFC return.
Adam Wieczorek: I don’t want to rip on the big Pole too much as I thought the risk of stepping in against Marcos Rogerio de Lima on short notice was worthwhile. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Wieczorek’s conditioning was terrible, scoring no meaningful offense after securing a takedown in the opening moments of the fight. It takes all the sheen off his win over Arjan Bhullar earlier this year, leaving Wieczorek looking like just another face in the crowd.
Dan Miragliotta: I’m not as big of a hater of Tan Dan as many others are – not that I defend him much either — but his late stoppage of Weidman was egregious. What the hell was he waiting for Weidman to do? He could barely turn himself over to grab Jacare’s ankle. There was no need for Jacare to throw any additional punches and every other person in the arena knew it.
UFC Production Crew: No post-fight interview with Lewis? Whose call was that? Lewis may have been bummed out as hell after such a disappointing performance, but you know damn well he was going to have something clever to say. Whoever made that call should be fired.
Derrick Lewis: Yes, I realize Lewis was on the losing end of a VERY one-sided beatdown. However, y’all remember when Lewis stated he didn’t care that much about that title? Y’all remember when Lewis said he’d be happy to step in if the price was right? He stepped in, so the price had to be right. Lewis got what he really wanted. I can’t call him a loser for that, even if I can’t find anything positive to say about his performance. We all thought it was going to go down this way after all.
Sijara Eubanks: It isn’t that Eubanks didn’t look impressive in her win over Roxy. She arguably took every round despite slowing considerably at the halfway point of the contest. No, it was Eubanks missing weight, effectively eliminating herself from receiving a title shot as she has missed weight in two of her three scheduled UFC contests. Given the history of fighters who’ve missed weight on more than one occasion, the UFC would be stupid to allow her to continue fighting at flyweight. I think Eubanks has a bright future, I just don’t see it happening at flyweight.
Julio Arce: It’s amazing how well Arce was able to rebound from the beating Moraes put on him. Even more amazing was how willing Arce was to get right back up in the face of the man who put him on his ass on multiple occasions. It almost worked as Arce probably would have worn down Moraes had it been a five-round contest. Unfortunately for him, it wasn’t. Despite the loss, expect Arce to bounce back well enough.
Marcos Rogerio de Lima: The big Brazilian did walk out of the event with a definitive victory. However, he also did it against an opponent that wasn’t ready for the fight after taking the contest on short notice. De Lima was smart to pace himself to ensure he didn’t gas himself – as he always seems to do – but he looked very soft and seemed to lack confidence on the feet. He did enough to ensure he maintains his employment, but he’s going to be eaten alive once he begins fighting competent big men.