Daniel Cormier reclaims light-heavyweight belt at UFC 210

UFC 210 took place Saturday night in Buffalo, N.Y. In the main event, Daniel Cormier defeated Anthony “Rumble” Johnson by earning a second round submission victory. After Cormier retained his belt, Johnson announced that he would retire.

The co-main was pure madness. Mousasi benefited from a referee error that resulted in a doctor stoppage TKO victory over Chris Weidman.

The other big news of the night came after Thiago Alves got the better of Patrick Cote, in a battle of former title contenders. The unanimous decision win by Alves proved he still has some in the tank. After the decision was announced, Cote told the fans that he would hang up the gloves for good.

The rematch in the main event looked eerily similar to the first bout between these two. Cormier (18-1) outclassed Johnson (22-5) on the ground and won by rear naked choke once again. After the fight, Johnson announced that he would retire.

The second fight of their rivalry ended one round earlier than the first. After eating shots in the opening round of the contest, Cormier looked to impose his will on Johnson in the second round, following the script of their first battle at UFC 187 to a T. From that point on Cormier put on a dominant performance. The deliberate grind of the former Olympic wrestler was able to keep Johnson from doing what he does best: drop bombs.

Johnson actually scored the first takedown of the second round, but his decision to grapple with Cormier was a questionable one. The defending champion got back up to his feet quickly and wrangled “Rumble” to the ground. From there, he took the back of Johnson, flattened him out and locked in the choke. The finishing move was nearly identical to the one that got Johnson to tap out during their first matchup.

The victory for Cormier was his second time defending the belt since first claiming it against Johnson at UFC 187. The only blemish of Cormier’s career came at the hands of former light-heavyweight champion Jon “Bones” Jones, who was amongst those in attendance at KeyBank Center in Buffalo. Fans anxiously await the possibility of a title fight rematch between these two men. Jones can come back from suspension in July.

Meanwhile, Johnson’s decision to call it quits is a shocking one–especially since he is 33 years old and has been such a dominant force in the division since moving up from middleweight in 2012 and welterweight before that.

The co-main event between Chris Weidman and Gegard Mousasi ended in bizarre fashion. The two middleweight contenders showed a good amount of respect early before engaging each other in the first round. Mousasi got the better of Weidman on the feet, but the American wrestler got three takedowns and controlled the round.

After Mousasi landed a series of strikes to stun Weidman, the two tried to take each other down. Weidman worked his way into full mount before the two scrambled to their feet. Mousasi landed some crisp jabs before Weidman shot for the takedown again, but this time, Mousasi stuffed it. At this point Weidman attempted to put his hands on the mat. Chaos ensues.

As Weidman put his hands on the mat, Mousasi kneed the former middleweight champion in the face twice, an illegal move. Referee Dan Miragliotta stepped in to stop the action and allowed for Weidman to take a standard five-minute break following the illegal knee.

But upon further review, Miragliotta came back into the octagon and deemed the knees legal. The replay appeared to show Mousasi lifting Weidman as he threw the punishing blows, just enough so that at least one of Weidman’s hands lifted off the mat, making the knees completely legal.

There was still one problem with the review; New York Athletic Commission’s rules forbids the use of instant replay. While all of this was happening, the doctors had entered the octagon and began testing Weidman to see if he could continue to fight.

After Miragliotta came back into the ring and announced the knees were legal, the doctors decided that Weidman was unable to continue the fight. Mousasi (42-6-2) earned the TKO victory, while Weidman (13-3) was left wondering what had just happened. Truly a brutal way for the native New Yorker to lose.

The rest of the main card went on without controversy. Thiago Alves returned to form against Patrick Cote. Alves picked apart Cote wire-to-wire and snapped his two-fight losing streak, earning the win by unanimous decision. Alves (26-11) showed flashes of what earned him a title shot against Georges St. Pierre at UFC 100.

After the fight, Cote (24-11), who was once a middleweight title contender himself, ended his 13-year UFC career as well.

In the women’s strawweight division rising prospect Cynthia Calvillo (5-0) showed the same slick groundwork that earned her a submission victory a little over a month ago, defeating Pearl Gonzalez (6-2) via rear naked choke in the third round.

Charles Oliveira moved up from featherweight to lightweight in UFC 210 after missing weight in two of his last three fights. But the weight change did not have an adverse effect on the Brazilian fighter, as Oliveira (22-7, 1 no contest) notched his 14th submission victory with a standing rear naked choke over former lightweight Bellator champion Will Brooks (18-2).

The promotion’s next event is UFC on Fox: Johnson vs. Reis on Saturday April 15. The fight card’s main event features nine time defending flyweight champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson taking on Brazil’s Wilson Reis.