Leaving it all in Houston (UFC 192 Review)

ufc_192It was supposed to be a night to highlight the welterweight and light heavyweight title races but all that changed a day before UFC 192.

The day of the weigh-ins the #1 fighter in the welterweight division, Johny Hendricks, was taken to the hospital due to intestinal issues.

Those issues came about thanks to the weight cut by Hendricks who had pushed himself too far trying to make weight for his fight against top contender Tyron Woodley.

As a result the co-main event was cancelled and the title shot that likely would have gone to the winner of the fight went to Woodley.

He will await the winner of the Lawler-Condit title fight later this year as he will be the next challenger for the welterweight title.

With the welterweight co-main event cancelled the fight card became all about the light heavyweights and the title race in the division.

Both top fights would be the deciding factors in an interesting title race that involved plenty of fighters who believed they should have fighting for the vacant title.

Ryan Bader was one of those fighters as he came into UFC 192 with a four-fight win streak under his belt.

When the UFC 187 matchup between Daniel Cormier and Anthony Johnson was announced Bader thought that he should have been there.

After all he was the one fighter who had a streak that could match Johnson’s win streak and it made sense to put the two hottest fighters in the division up for the title.

Instead it was Cormier who got the shot after losing to Jones in his last fight and, at least in the eyes of Bader, never earned another shot.

Bader let Cormier know how he felt after the fight at the press conference where he called the newly minted champion out.

Instead of solving those issues Bader was sent to another fight, this time against a returning champion in Rashad Evans, where he could prove once and for all that he belongs in a title fight.

Bader looked like an evolved fighter going against Evans as he had the technical striking and the wrestling ability to overcome the awkward style that Evans brings.

Both fighters went back and forth but Bader continued to put up more damage every round until eventually Evans was simply looking for the big overhand.

The former champion realized that it was his best hope at winning but he could never find it and the cardio just wasn’t there to end the fight.

With the win, Bader likely earned a title shot and all he had to do was sit and wait for the main event to see his opponent.

That is where Cormier was looking o truly begin his reign as the light heavyweight champion with his first title defence.

It wasn’t going to be an easy one though as another fighter who believed that he should have been in the fight for the vacant title.

Alexander Gustafsson had been considered one of the top contenders for a long time all thanks to his performance against Jones in 2013.

He had pushed the most dominant light heavyweight champion ever as far as anyone had ever pushed him.

Gustafsson may have lost that fight, although many though he had won, but the fans demanded a rematch.mma-sidebar.fw

That rematch was supposed to happen at UFC 178 but an injury to Gustafsson cancelled the fight and then the issues with Jones began and Gustafsson was left out of the new title run.

As upset as he was he still earned the next shot at the title as he was given the main even at UFC 192 in Cormier’s first title defence.

It was an interesting match-up just by styles alone as Gustafsson is so similar to the only fighter that could ever beat Cormier, Jones.

He had the reach and striking ability that had given Cormier challenges throughout his first title challenge and Gustafsson came into the fight looking to give him the same problems to take the belt.

The fight was a war as it was very similar to the fight that Gustafsson had against the former champion, Jones.

They started by splitting rounds thanks to their wrestling which was a surprising on the end of Gustafsson who is a pure striker and not known for wrestling.

Then came the rest of the fight where you might as well have flipped a coin to figure who won the rounds.

Both stood for most of the last three rounds with Gustafsson landing some great technical strikes and Cormier landing some big uppercuts from the clinch.

It was a tight fight and in the end it was the champion who retained his belt after a split decision.

For Gustafsson it was another close call where he just couldn’t finish off his end goal despite leaving everything out there.

He is sure to be back in the octagon for another title at some point as it will be hard to keep him down.

For Cormier he may see Bader next while Anthony Johnson and Glover Teixeira could be in line as both are currently ranked above Bader but the return of Jones could change all of those plans.

Despite the unanimous decision fights that weren’t necessarily the most exciting, the main event made up for it as the title fight was what title fights are supposed to be in the UFC.

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