UFC 214 Recap: Cormier & Jones 2 Lives Up To Expectations
The UFC returned to pay-per-view this past Saturday with one it's strongest offerings of the year, UFC 214: Cormier vs Jones 2. The card was stacked with three title fights, and two others that were of great importance to their divisions. Getting into the recap I was 4-1 in my picks on a very interesting night of fights. Let's begin.
Jimi Manuwa vs. Volkan Oezdemir
In this battle of top-contending Light Heavyweights we were treated to a display of utter power in the form of an early round one KO from Oezdemir. The fight began and quickly moved into the clinch where Oezdemir landed some short left hands that seemed to sting Manuwa. He continued to throw, landing another short left and and uppercut that sent Manuwa stumbling back out of the clinch. Oezdemir chased Manuma across the Octagon, throwing him to the mat and finishing him with strikes. A very dominant performance against the higher ranked Manuwa, Oezdemir has positioned himself nicely moving forward in the division.
Robbie Lawler vs. Donald Cerrone
This one, much like the main event was a long time in the making. It didn't take long to see why fans wanted this one so much, with Lawler practically sprinting to Cerrone at the opening bell, gaining position in the clinch and firing away. After a solid minute of pressure and strikes from Lawler, things calmed down and Cerrone gained his composure. Round two saw Lawler disappear from this fight, abandoning his pressure tactics and allowing Cerrone to land some key strikes at a high volume. The fight continued much the same in the third. In total, Cerrone landed 99 strikes to Lawler's 85, with half of Lawler's strikes coming in the first round alone. Lawler won the fight in a decision. I was a bit surprised by the judges on this one but I can see a case either way. One thing is for sure – this is not the same Robbie Lawler pre-Woodley KO, surely something to keep an eye on in the future.
Cris Cyborg vs Tonya Evinger
The party can finally begin at Dana White's house, Cris Cyborg has gotten her UFC Gold. This fight went on a bit too long and it was even mentioned that Cyborg will sometimes “hold off” and give a bit of a show instead of going for the throat immediately. Whatever the case may be, Cyborg won by KO in the third in a fight that was never close. Cyborg has since said she wants to fight Holly Holm in her first defense of the title. At least she isn't shying away from top competition, as futile as efforts against her may be. And so begins the reign of Cyborg.
Tyron Woodley vs. Demian Maia
The lowest total strikes in a championship match. Ever. This is the not-so-esteemed record bestowed upon this bout, one I'm not sure Woodley even cares about. This fight went to a decision with Woodley taking it by essentially avoiding Maia's take downs and landing a few shots. I can't fault Woodley for his game plan here and while it was boring to watch, the man has one job, to keep his belt at any cost. Why would Woodley want to push the pace on a one of the sports deadliest submission artists? In doing so, he would possibly open himself up to a take down, tipping the match in Maia's favor. By focusing on take down defense and doing just enough striking to win, Woodley executed the perfect plan. A perfect, boring, plan. Styles make fights and this turned out to be a tough one.
Daniel Cormier vs. Jon Jones
The main event of the evening did not disappoint. This fight had all the build up, all the prestige, and when it was over, left a whole bunch of drama in it's wake. Round one saw much of what we saw in the first match-up between the two, DC pushing the pace against Jones. Early in the round Cormier even punched the mouth-piece out of Jones' mouth, bringing a bit of energy to the surprisingly pro-DC crowd. The rest of the first saw the two men trading pretty evenly, with DC landing a strong combo towards the end of the round. I feel as though DC took the first.
In round two we saw Jones begin to use his huge reach advantage to his favor. He did take a few shots but mostly kept DC at range while landing strong leg kicks, something that would prove to be the deciding tactic in the third. DC seemed to again be the more effective fighter in the second and this round was a toss-up (a scorecard I saw had the fight split here).
The third started with more of the tactical trading between the two with Jones maintaining distance and landing every time DC attempted to move in. After two and a half rounds of Jones landing low kicks on DC, he threw a high one. With DC looking to check / block something low or to the body, the left leg connected with DC's head. Hard. DC stumbled backwards with Jones in pursuit and eventually Jones got him to the mat. At this point DC was obviously hurting but still showing the ability to defend himself, even using the cage to get back up to a near sitting position with Jones raining down punches. However, as the assault wore on, Jones was able to land an elbow and then repeated left hands for the KO.
Much has been made of the end of the fight, specifically what some see as a late stoppage. While watching the end of the match I did feel that DC was defending well enough to allow the fight to continue. However, there came a point where DC was out and his movement was purely muscle memory, his arm just jerking around at shoulder level, repeating the movements he was making before the final blows. At this point Jones landed four or five more clean shots. It was hard to watch. As Jones was celebrating, you could see DC in the background still jerking around on the mat. I felt like the man needed immediate medical attention and the last thing he needed was a microphone shoved in his face. Jon Jones showed tremendous grace and respect in his first portion of the post-fight interview, thanking DC and calling him a role model. I did not expect this from the outspoken “bad boy” of the UFC and it was a welcome change.
When Joe Rogan offered DC the chance to speak it was immediately apparent that he shouldn't have. Cormier admitted to not knowing how he was knocked out, fighting back tears and speaking through a grimacing face (undoubtedly already replacing the “Crying Jordan” meme). When asked what this loss meant for the rivalry, DC stated, “I've lost twice, there is no rivalry”. As a sports fan, you owe it to yourself to see this post-fight video. I've watched / heard it a dozen times already and it gives me the feels every time.
Once again, the UFC turned WWE at the end with Jones soiling the moment by grabbing a random microphone and calling out Brock Lesnar. Who. Freaking. Cares. The guy is 5-4 in the UFC and his last win was vacated due to steroid use. Jones has just taken his first step to career reclamation and he's already calling money fights? Ugh.
The UFC is taking a month of, yielding to Mayweather vs McGregor next month. I've already offered my thoughts on that, which you can find on here with a bit of clicking about. I'll be back in September with a look at UFC 215.