LAS VEGAS – The best fighter in the world was nowhere to be found on Saturday when his archrival claimed the crown he’d put a stranglehold on for the last four years.
Jon Jones was stripped of the UFC’s light heavyweight championship in April and suspended indefinitely after being accused in a hit-and-run accident in Albuquerque, N.M., in which a pregnant woman suffered a broken arm.
With Jones sorting through his problems, Daniel Cormier ascended to his throne by submitting Anthony Johnson in the third round of the main event Saturday at UFC 187 before 12,615 screaming fans at the MGM Grand Garden.
Just five months earlier, Cormier wept openly as he sat through what had to be, for him, an agonizingly difficult press conference, listening to Jones recount his victory at UFC 182.
Cormier was all smiles on Saturday, except for when Ryan Bader pulled a low-rent move from the pro wrestling playbook and stormed the dais in an attempt to thrust himself into the title picture.
And though Cormier’s title may come with an asterisk to many, it does not to the two men who mean the most, Cormier and White.
But much like Cormier, he said Jones didn’t defend the belt as a result of his own actions.
LAS VEGAS – Daniel Cormier is now the UFC light heavyweight champion after tapping out Anthony Johnson on Saturday in the third round of their bout in the main event of UFC 187 at the MGM Grand Garden.
But he’s definitely not the best 205-pounder fighter in the world.
That would be one Jonathan Dwight Jones, who decimated Cormier when they met five months earlier at UFC 182. But Jones was suspended indefinitely by the UFC and stripped of his title after an alleged hit-and-run accident last month in Albuquerque, N.M., and Cormier stepped in to fill his spot against Johnson.
Cormier’s ability to take a punch and his grappling skills led him to the win he craved for years, a championship that has eluded him at every level. He dominated Johnson with his grappling, wore him down and then submitted him at 2:39 of the third with a rear naked choke.
And it was clear that Cormier, one of the sport’s true good guys, knows it’s going to take one more win to cement himself as the best light heavyweight in the world.
He then quickly bolted the cage, ran to ringside to greet his family and then left to celebrate in his dressing room.
Then, and only then, will he be the undisputed champ.
LAS VEGAS – Chris Weidman uncharacteristically got into Vitor Belfort’s face Friday at the weigh-in prior to their middleweight title fight Saturday in UFC 187 at the MGM Grand Garden.
Weidman angrily said Belfort was using performance-enhancing drugs and that his testosterone levels were still too high.
But before he stormed off the stage Friday, Weidman vowed he’d beat Belfort no matter what the veteran Brazilian had been using.
Weidman then went out and backed up his talk. He survived an early onslaught from the veteran Brazilian, scored a takedown and pounded Belfort with shots from the top until referee Herb Dean stopped it at 2:53 of the first round.
Belfort had become something of the poster boy for the steroid era of the UFC, and though the Nevada Athletic Commission said he’d passed all of his pre-fight drug screens, Weidman accused him of cheating at the weigh-in.
He said it wouldn’t matter, though, and it didn’t. Weidman blasted Belfort with a series of punches and elbows from the top before Dean mercifully stopped it.
Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports 3 days ago
LAS VEGAS – The chairman of the Nevada Athletic Commission laughed nervously at the mention of Vitor Belfort’s name, but quickly said, “He’s clean.”
And in Belfort’s world, that’s news.
Belfort will challenge Chris Weidman for the middleweight title on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden in UFC 187, trying to join Randy Couture and B.J. Penn as only the third two-division champion in UFC history.
As with most things with Belfort these days, that will come with an asterisk.
Right or wrong, fair or unfair, Belfort is sort of the poster boy for the drug woes that have plagued mixed martial arts in general and the UFC in particular for the last 15 years or so.
Belfort tested positive once in 2006 when he was competing in PRIDE. But much of his recent success, which led to his title shot against Weidman, came when he was bulked up while using the since-banned testosterone replacement therapy.
Francisco Aguilar, the chairman of the Nevada commission, said Belfort has been drug-tested numerous times, by both his state and California, since he was licensed at a 2014 hearing in Las Vegas.
“We have tested Mr. Belfort quite a bit and he has passed everything we’ve given him thus far,” Aguilar said.
Kevin Iole at Boxing 3 days ago
Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao were each tested 19 times for performance-enhancing drug use both prior to and following their May 2 mega-fight at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas, and both men passed all of the examinations.
According to records provided by the Nevada Athletic Commisison, each man gave 11 urine and eight blood samples. Among the special analyses given to the samples were Carbon Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry (CIR/IRMS) testing as well as tests to detect usage of EPO and human growth hormone.
Mayweather gave urine on March 13, 18, 19 and 28, April 2, 10, 15, 21 and 27 and May 1 and 2. He gave blood samples on March 13, 18 and 28, April 2, 10, 15 and 21 and May 2.
Paquiao gave urine on March 14, 17, 23 and 24, April 1, 9, 16, 22 and 27 and May 1 and 2. Pacquiao gave blood samples on March 14, 17 and 24, April 1, 9, 16 and 22 and May 2.
Nevada rules permit the mixes that Mayweather took, but because USADA was overseeing the testing he applied for and was granted the TUE for them.
All tests came back negative.
Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports 4 days ago
LAS VEGAS – From his earliest days as a mixed martial arts fighter, from the time he was a virtual unknown until the summer night two years ago when he was favored by many insiders to win the championship, Chris Weidman trained to defeat Anderson Silva.
Silva was the reigning UFC middleweight champion and gaining widespread recognition as the best fighter ever in 2009 when Weidman turned pro.
During each training camp, no matter the opponent, Weidman prepared as if he were facing Silva.
“He was the man and if I wanted to be where he was, I had to be prepared to beat him,” Weidman told Yahoo Sports.
In 2013, he did exactly that, twice. He knocked out Silva to win the UFC middleweight championship in July, then successfully defended it when Silva’s shin snapped as Weidman checked a kick.
Though the legendary Brazilian champion is now in the twilight of his career, Weidman is, in some ways, still chasing Silva.
Weidman’s new goal is to finish his career unbeaten and with the kind of recognition Silva had until they met at UFC 162 in Las Vegas on July 6, 2013.
He not only became physically larger while he was on it, he became more successful too.
More UFC 187 coverage:
Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports 5 days ago
LAS VEGAS – It's been eight years since Morris Johnson died following a valiant fight with cancer, yet he's never far from his grandson's thoughts or heart.
Morris was on Anthony Johnson's mind as much as Daniel Cormier was as he made the five-hour flight from Florida to Las Vegas, where on Saturday he'll face Cormier in the co-main event of UFC 187 for the light heavyweight championship.
Johnson was adopted by his grandparents when he was just 2 years old. He's never been fully certain of the circumstances of the adoption, but the bond he forged with his grandfather has never been broken.
His most difficult task on Saturday might just be keeping his emotions in check if he defeats Cormier to win the light heavyweight belt.
This is one of the UFC's signature divisions, a title held by legends like Randy Couture and Chuck Liddell, and recently stripped from Jon Jones, arguably the greatest fighter in the history of the sport.
Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports 6 days ago
LAS VEGAS – Losing to the best fighter in the game, and quite possibly the greatest fighter who ever lived, is hardly a disgrace.
It’s how Daniel Cormier lost to Jon Jones that is so troubling.
Cormier, a veteran of two Olympic Games and an elite mixed martial arts fighter for years, let his emotions get the best of him when he stepped into the Octagon to challenge Jones for the light heavyweight title on Jan. 3 at UFC 182 at the MGM Grand Garden.
He had a long-simmering feud with Jones that boiled over during the build-up to the fight. They wound up brawling in the lobby of the MGM in a disgraceful scene for two supposed professionals, and were fined and ordered to perform community service by the Nevada Athletic Commission.
Tensions remained high throughout the training camp and they nearly came to blows several times again during fight week. Whenever they saw each other, things got wild.
Cormier’s dislike for Jones overrode his common sense. More often than not, fighters who get overly emotional during a fight make mistakes that wind up costing them.
Cormier has no personal problems with Johnson, but he still has the issue of clearing the final hurdle and winning a championship.
Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports 7 days ago
LAS VEGAS – The UFC unquestionably made the right decision when it chose to indefinitely suspend Jon Jones, its talented but troubled light heavyweight champion, after he was arrested last month in the aftermath of a hit-and-run auto accident.
Jones is accused of running a red light and crashing into a car driven by a pregnant woman in Albuquerque, N.M. Police discovered a marijuana pipe when they searched the abandoned vehicle following the accident.
Jones left UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta and president Dana White no choice but to suspend him and pull him from Saturday’s planned title defense at UFC 187 at the MGM Grand Garden against Anthony Johnson. Daniel Cormier, whom Jones routed at UFC 182 in January in his last bout, stepped in to take his place against Johnson for the now vacant title.
And there were other incidents, White said, which didn’t become public.
Fertitta and White had to act to protect the brand, which is far bigger than an individual athlete. But they also needed to act to try to help Jones.
Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports 9 days ago
INGLEWOOD, Calif. — If every televised card was like the one Saturday on HBO, boxing might regain the spot it held in the first half of the 20th century as one of the three major sports in the U.S. Two of the finest fighters in the world thrilled a raucous crowd of 12,372 at The Forum with a pair of spectacular knockouts.
Fans didn’t want to leave after the main event, as Gennady Golovkin gave them what they wanted by stopping Willie Monroe Jr. at 45 seconds of the sixth round in a bout for the WBA middleweight title. He had a lot to live up to, as flyweight champion Roman Gonzalez was sensational in a second-round stoppage of Edgar Sosa in the opener of the HBO doubleheader.
They are without question two of the finest fighters in the world and each went out and performed brilliantly. Combined, they’re 76-0 with 67 knockouts.
“That was a very good drama show,” said Golovkin, uttering one of his familiar and increasingly popular lines.
Indeed it was. Golovkin dumped Monroe twice in the second, and then floored him again in the sixth with a crushing left after a big flurry. Monroe barely beat the count. When referee Jack Reiss asked him if he wanted to continue, Monroe said, “I’m done.”