A lot to Prove in Vegas (UFC 178 Review)

ufc_178It has been the year of the upset in the UFC with some of the most dominant champions taking a back seat to the underdogs. Big names continue to fall and it seems that no matter who they face there is always a sense that their opponent can beat them. The biggest one so far was in the Bantamweight division where T.J. Dillashaw came out of seemingly nowhere to take on Renan Barao for the title. Dillashaw had been a good fighter but did not seem like he deserved a shot just yet but he walked into the octagon like he belonged against a champion that many were just assuming would beat him and wait for Dominick Cruz to get back. Dillashaw earned the win and shocked the world by earning the title. It was just one of many upsets on the year and the as the year nears its end every title fight seems to have that type of feel to it where anything can happen. Dominant champions are no longer the norm in the UFC with only a few left from a year ago where dominant champions were in almost every weight class. These champions found themselves down and out with Anderson Silva, Georges St. Pierre, and Renan Barao all losing their belts for one reason or another. So with these dominant champions falling the question becomes, who will be the next to fall? As UFC 178 approached one dominant champion was looking to make sure his name was not on that list of former champions. As the only Flyweight champion in UFC history Johnson has run through the division and become one of the more dominant champions in the UFC. Along with that his performance has made him one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the UFC. Much like other divisions that once had dominant champions the competition is beginning to dwindle in the Flyweight division as all of the best fighters at that weight have already fought and lost to Johnson. That makes matchups a little more difficult to figure out as many did not fight a close enough fight to deserve a rematch. So the UFC tries to find new opponents for Johnson and at UFC 178 they did just that taking the #8 ranked Chris Cariaso into the main event against Johnson. For Johnson it was all about extended his time as the champion and trying to become the best fighter in the UFC. Cariaso, on the other hand, was looking to join the ranks of the underdog winners this year as he looked to shock everyone and take the Flyweight title home. With a three-fight win streak under his belt Cariaso went into the fight against Johnson with confidence that he had the opportunity to beat the champion. Johnson would look to use his blinding speed to stay out of the range of Cariaso while Cariaso would likely try to fight in close where his Muay Thai could give him the advantage. It was never going to be an easy task for Cariaso as he had to get a hold of Johnson to strike with him while Johnson looked to avoid any close striking match. Despite much of the talk about the stand-up game for both of these fighters it did not become a factor in the fight. Instead it was the ground game that was the focus as the champion went to work immediately on the ground. Only two minutes into the fight Johnson took the fight to the ground and went after submissions once the fight got there. While on top Johnson grabbed an arm and looked to finish the fight early. Locking in a Kimura, Johnson finished the fight early proving that he was not the next champion to lose his belt. The win was a dominant one and Johnson once again proved he is one of the best fighter sin the UFC as he awaits an opponent that can give him a real challenge. That next challenge could come in multiple forms including a rematch with an improved John Dodson or a fight against rising flyweights Ian McCall or Jussier Formiga. Either way Johnson will continue to get better and if someone can’t challenge him soon the division may go the way of the Welterweights and Middleweights from years ago where nobody can really challenge the champ.

The rest of the card was stacked with important fights between great fighters as some of the top fighters in multiple divisions fought for a chance to move up closer to their titles. Donald Cerrone earned another big lightweight win that inched him closer to the title while Conor McGregor made his bid for a title shot with another TKO win and Cat Zingano earned herself a title shot after a year off with a TKO win. Through all of that it was an undercard fight that might have been one of the more impressive fights of the entire night and one of the most important. Dominick Cruz had been one of those dominant champions in the Bantamweight division. That was until he tore his ACL and multiple surgeries kept him out for over two years. After all of the turmoil Cruz returned to the octagon at UFC 178 where he took on Takeya Mizugaki to end the undercard. The questions surrounded Cruz about whether or not he still had it after so much time off or if the ring rust would get to him. He answered that in clear fashion as he easily beat Mizugaki in the first round with a TKO. The win was a more aggressive showing than had ever been seen before from Cruz as he came out looking to get a lot of pent-up aggression out as soon as he could. More importantly though he looked like a championship fighter and looked good enough to be the champion right now. That was relayed in the post-fight press conference when Dana White said that after his performance Cruz would earn the next shot at the Bantamweight title. Now Cruz will prepare to enter the spotlight once again and take on the man who upset Renan Barao for the title earlier this year. It will also be another fight against a Team Alpha Male member which seems to be a habit for Cruz who has a long-standing rivalry with Urijah Faber and the entire team. The undercard fight was just one step for Cruz in his pursuit of a title that he never truly lost.

 

Fight Bonuses

Performance of the Night
He is making a habit of these bonuses as Conor McGregor continues to run through the Featherweight division on his way to what looks to be an eventual title fight as he earned a Performance of the Night bonus for his TKO of Dustin Poirier

Performance of the Night
It may have been an undercard fight but Dominick Cruz treated it like a main event coming out with an aggressive attitude earning a TKO win over Takeya Mizugaki and a Performance of the Night bonus

Fight of the Night
It was not a fight with a lot on the line but it turned into the best fight of the night as Yoel Romero beat Tim Kennedy with a third round KO after looking to be out on his feet the round before

 

Fight Results

Main Event:
Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson def. Chris “Kamikaze” Cariaso [Flyweight Title]
(Submission; Kimura, Rd. 2)

Main Card:
Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone def. Eddie “The Silent Assassin” Alvarez
(Unanimous Decision)

“The Notorious” Conor McGregor def. Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier
(TKO, Rd 1)

Yoel “Soldier of God” Romero def. Tim Kennedy
(TKO, Rd. 3)

“Alpha” Cat Zingano def. Amanda “Lioness of the Ring” Nunes
(TKO, Rd. 3)

Undercard:
Dominick “The Dominator” Cruz def. Takeya Mizugaki
(TKO, Rd. 1)

Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal def. “The” James Krause
(Unanimous Decision)

Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson def. Patrick “The Predator” Cote
(Unanimous Decision)

Brian “Bad Boy” Ebersole def. John “Doomsday” Howard
(Split Decision)

Kevin “Motown Phenom” Lee def. Jon “Super Saiyan” Tuck
(Unanimous Decision)

Manny “The Anvil” Gamburyan def. Cody “The Renegade” Gibson
(Submission; Guillotine Choke, Rd. 2)

 

Upcoming Events

UFC Fight Night 53: Nelson vs. Story (Saturday October 4th; 12:00 pm ET)
Stockholm, Sweden (Ericsson Globe Arena)
Main Event: Gunnar “Gunny” Nelson vs. Rick “The Horror” Story
Notable: Max “Blessed” Holloway vs. Akira Corassani
Notable: Ilir “The Sledgehammer” Latifi vs. Jan “Książę Cieszyński” Błachowicz

UFC Fight Night 54: MacDonald vs. Saffiedine (Saturday October 4th; 10:00 pm ET)
Halifax, Nova Scotia (Halifax Metro Centre)
Main Event: Rory “The Canadian Psycho” MacDonald vs. Tarec “Sponge” Saffiedine
Notable: Raphael Assunção vs. Bryan “Kid Lightning” Caraway
Notable: Yosdenis “Pink Panther” Cedeno vs. Chad Laprise

UFC 179: Aldo vs. Mendes II (Saturday October 25th; 10:00 pm ET)
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Maracanazinho Gymnasium)
Main Event: José Aldo “Junior” vs. Chad “Money” Mendes [Featherweight Title]
Notable: Phil “Mr. Wonderful” Davis vs. Glover Teixeira
Notable: Darren “The Damage” Elkins vs. Lucas “Mineiro” Martins

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