Las Vegas, NV - The UFC has a tendency of putting on tremendous events around Memorial Day Weekend and UFC 187 certain lived up to its "SuperCard" billing.
Two championship fights on one PPV always has mass appeal but when the two fights draw in as much interest as Saturday night's did, it makes for must-see TV.
UFC Middleweight champion Chris Weidman went toe-to-toe with MMA legend Vitor Belfort in a bout that has been a year in the making. The bad blood between these two warriors has been well documented and an intense battle was just waiting to happen.
Article continues below
Conversely, the UFC Light Heavyweight title fight was between two men that seemingly respect one another in Daniel Cormier and Anthony Johnson. Nonetheless, the gold was up for grabs after being vacated by Jon Jones in April so it was down to business for these guys.
Coming into UFC 187, many around the MMA world knew about the tension surrounding the defending UFC Middleweight champion and his adversarial opponent. Vitor Belfort has had a history of testing positive for performance enhancing drugs. In 2006, "The Phenom" tested positive for an illegal substance, 4-hydroxytestosterone, which resulted in a nine month MMA ban and a $10,000 fine.
Belfort was expected to face Chris Weidman at UFC 173 for the championship at 185 lbs. However, Belfort chose to withdraw from the fight following the Nevada State Athletic Commission's ban on exemptions for testosterone replacement therapy. Subsequently, Vitor revealed that he had failed a random drug test in February 2014, due to elevated levels of testosterone. This fight was postponed an additional two times due to injuries Weidman sustained during training.
Article continues below
However, the long awaited fight finally occurred at the MGM Grand on May 23. It was a physical altercation with Belfort gaining initial success, landing strikes early on to the champion Weidman. But, the "All-American" was able to survive the onslaught and secured a take-down of the former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion.
The wrestler from Long Island, NY took a mounted position and rained down punches until a TKO victory was called in favor of Weidman at the 2:53 mark of Round 1.
Chris Weidman (13-0) did what he said he was going to do at the UFC 187 weigh-ins on Friday; punish Vitor Belfort (24-11). The fast paced fight was one the fans of both fighters were expecting and they certain received. Weidman now looks ahead to potential clash with Luke Rockhold or Jacare Souza in the near future.
A NEW CHAMPION IS CROWNED
The main event of the evening came in the form of #1 ranked Light Heavyweight contender Anthony Johnson versus #3 ranked Daniel Cormier for the vacant championship at 205 lbs.
Former champion Jon "Bones" Jones was stripped of the title that he had held since March 2011 due to legal issues so now a new man would walk out of the Octagon holding the prestigious belt.
"Rumble" had been on a tear since returning the UFC in April of last year, winning three in a row including two first-round knockouts of Antônio Nogueira and Alexander Gustafsson. He put himself in line for a Light Heavyweight title shot and originally was scheduled to fight Jones at the event before the champion was forced to relinquish the belt.
But, in stepped Daniel Cormier, who just a few months earlier, was defeated by the aforementioned Jon Jones. "DC" was thrust back into the title picture and a clash for the championship was set.
Johnson did what he was supposed to do in out-striking the former Olympian for the first two rounds. However, the superior wrestling of Cormier left openings in "Rumble's" attacks and lead to multiple take-downs.
Finally, after a spectacular drop to the mat in the third round, Cormier was able to cinch in a rear-naked choke and submit Johnson at the 2:39 point of the round, giving "DC" his first championship in the UFC.
Daniel Cormier (16-1) has not always been looked at in great light.
His trash talking with Jon Jones and their scuffle at a media event last year doesn't help his image. After his victory, he even got into a war of words with former Ultimate Fighter winner Ryan Bader at the press conference so maybe now, as a champion, Cormier should take a page from his opponent Saturday night, Anthony Johnson (19-5). Be humble and show respect to your challengers.
We'll have to wait and see.
As stated earlier, the UFC puts on some of their biggest events in May.
The two title fights at UFC 187 are going to remain embedded in fans' minds for a long time to come. Coming up, UFC 188 and 189 have some big shoes to fill but with three more belts defended in the upcoming months' PPVs, UFC fans have a lot to look forward to.
Lightweight : Donald Cerrone def. John Makdessi via TKO at 4:44 of Round 2
Heavyweight: Andrei Arlovski def. Travis Browne via TKO at 4:41 of Round 1
Flyweight: Joseph Benavidez def. John Moraga via Unanimous Decision
Flyweight: John Dodson def. Zach Makovskyv ia Unanimous Decision
Welterweight: Dong Hyun Kim def. Josh Burkman via Submission at 2:13 of Round 3
Middleweight: Rafael Natal def. Uriah Hall Decision via Split Decision
Welterweight Colby Covington def. Mike Pyle Decision via Unanimous Decision