UFC 182 Highlights: Dull PPV Card Almost Runs Over Time

UFC 182 had more mainstream attention than any event the organization has put on since Anderson Silva’s rematches with Chris Weidman and Chael Sonnen, and to be frank, the card did not deliver. Most people certainly tuned in for the main event between reigning light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and his rival Daniel Cormier, and that turned out to be a solid fight. Aside from that however, the pay-per-view portion of the card was below average. Even the perpetually entertaining Donald Cerrone was unable to get much of a rise out of the crowd. With every fight going to decision, the promotion was left scrambling following the conclusion of the main event to get a quick interview with Jones and close the show. The fighters on the undercard can’t be blamed too much for the lack of interest in their fights. This event was sold as a one-fight show, and had everyone highly invested in the main event. That didn’t save much room for interest in a pair of squash matches, a Brad Tavares bout, or Cerrone facing a talented but largely unknown Myles Jury. What they can be blamed for however, is looking like they too showed up just to watch the main event. Aside from the main event, each bout had a fighter who simply put on a poor performance. As mentioned off the bat, the main event of the card was a good fight. Not great, but good. The bout started off at a much higher pace than anticipated, with Cormier trying to close the distance between them and Jones often obliging. While Cormier did good work on the inside with his uppercuts, the more effective blows were by the champion as he worked on the Olympian’s body. While at range Jones would land hard body kicks (and punches), as Cormier closed the distance he caught the challenger with knees, and on the inside he kept focusing on the midsection. The work would pay off in the fourth round, as Cormier visibly began to tire and Jones dominated him in the clinch and in the wrestling game, registering a pair of big takedowns, and a slick trip at the end of the stanza. The fifth saw the fighters return to the clinch the majority of the time, and Jones once again got the better of the action, but it was the slowest round of the fight to be certain.

As Bruce Buffer read the scores, there wasn’t any doubt that Jones had retained his belt, and the judges were unanimous with 49-46 verdicts (although a pair of judges scored the second round for Cormier, while the dissenter had him winning the third instead). It wasn’t the type of performance that will stack up with Jones’ title win over Shogun Rua, his submission over Lyoto Machida, or his epic with Alexander Gustafsson. However, given the circumstances and the perceived threat Cormier presented, it was another fight that solidified Jones as the best fighter in the sport today. Obviously his next challenge is undetermined until Gustafsson and Anthony Johnson tangle in the UFC on Fox 14 headliner. The more marketable bout is the rematch with Gustafsson, but Johnson may present more of a threat to Jones’ title given his massive punching power. Either bout should be a big one, as this fight seemed to do more for Jones’ visibility than his previous three plus years of dominance in the light heavyweight division. At lightweight, Donald Cerrone continues to make a case for himself as a potential title challenger, despite his previous losses to the two men who will be fighting for the belt in March. He allowed an early takedown to Myles Jury, but immediately used an omoplata to sweep to top position. From that point through the end of the fight, Jury offered very little offense, and Cerrone won an easy decision. It wasn’t the most exciting performance we’ve seen out of Cerrone, but Jury’s style was never going to allow this to be his typical type of war.

Cerrone has a couple of options moving forward. He can wait for the winner of UFC 185’s fight between Anthony Pettis and Rafael dos Anjos, as Khabib Nurmagomedov likely won’t be ready for the winner of that bout. Or Cerrone can be Cerrone, and take another fight in the interim. Gilbert Melendez is coming off a loss, so that’s tricky, and he’s already fought both Benson Henderson and Eddie Alvarez, who are facing each other in a couple weeks. That leaves Edson Barboza (who Cerrone beat just last year), Josh Thomson (coming off of two losses), and Bobby Green (coming off a loss) as the only available fighters in the top 10. I think it’s best for Cerrone to wait on the sidelines and perhaps hope that Pettis drops out of the title fight and he can step in on short notice to face dos Anjos. Beyond those two fights, there really wasn’t much to talk about on this card. Brad Tavares beat up an old and slow looking Nate Marquardt, but there was nothing particularly impressive about the performance as Tavares does little that jumps off the page. Luckily Tavares hasn’t faced too many fighters near the top of the middleweight division, so he has options. I think another striker with solid takedown defense in Costas Philippou may result in a decent bout, so I’d move forward with that. Tavares is also still quite young at 27, so there’s certainly time for him to develop into more than he currently is. Kyoji Horiguchi used his superior striking and movement to make Louis Gaudinot look lost in the Octagon en route to a unanimous decision. It wasn’t the most thrilling fight, but Horiguchi was in control throughout despite the commentary booth seeing Gaudinot having plenty of success. It’s clear that Horiguchi isn’t ready for the elite at flyweight quite yet, but he’s going to give everyone south of Demetrious Johnson, Joseph Benavidez, and John Dodson fits with the skills he’s already got in place. I think a good pairing would be against recent title challenger Chris Cariaso, despite ‘Kamikaze’ coming off a loss. In the opening bout of the PPV, Hector Lombard looked menacing and controlled nearly the entire 15 minutes of his bout with Josh Burkman, but couldn’t put the former WSOF champion away. Both Burkman and Lombard were said to be ill leading up to the fight, but it certainly showed more with Burkman, as the Cuban Olympian kept up a solid pace throughout the bout. It wasn’t the type of fight that will have fans clamoring for a Lombard title shot, but if he can get past Rory MacDonald in his next bout, there will be no denying him.

The highlights of the undercard were a fantastic spinning back fist knockout by Paul Felder over Danny Castillo, and an impressive UFC debut by Cody Garbrandt, earning the third round TKO against Marcus Brimage. Felder dominated the bout up to the point of his KO, stranding Castillo on the feet and using his more diverse striking to score with nearly everything he threw. Garbrandt and Brimage was more back and forth, but the newcomer showed more power in his hands and a better chin, which eventually translated into the finish when Brimage was forced to get aggressive in the closing seconds of the bout. Next up for the UFC is a return to Boston for Fight Night 59, where Conor McGregor will take on Dennis Siver with a featherweight title shot on the line for the Irishman. The card also features a great lightweight battle between Benson Henderson and Eddie Alvarez. The lines have been released at Several Bookmakers for the entire card already, and MMAOddsBreaker.com will have continuing coverage leading up to the event.

Written by Brad Taschuk

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