Folks it is Saturday, July 7th, and we have officially made it to UFC 226: the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s International Fight Week headliner. We lost a fight getting here (and the co-main event at that) in Max Holloway vs Brian Ortega for the Featherweight Championship due to Holloway falling victim to the International Fight Week Curse that’s plagued the last four giant Summer cards the company has put on, and falling ill showing signs of a concussion earlier this week. Wishing Max the absolute best for a speedy recovery, as is pretty much everyone in the sport. He’s a true warrior who has been faced with a ton of adversity outside the octagon this calendar year, none of which was his own doing, so the fact that it happened here, on this card, on this stage, is heartbreaking quite frankly, for him AND Ortega.
Nevertheless, this card persists, and it’s a fantastic one. We’ve got THE SUPERFIGHT up top, Stipe Miocic vs Daniel Cormier for the UFC Heavyweight Championship, and more importantly, the title: Baddest Man On The Planet. Cormier is the current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion of the world of course, and he will attempt to become the second man in UFC history to hold two belts simultaneously tonight. This ain’t his first rodeo competing over the 205lb threshold, however. Cormier is a former Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion who came into the UFC as a heavyweight originally, 13-0 in the division, and as he put here…
…has never lost a single round at heavyweight. He even weighed in heavier than the champ!
Stipe Miocic is not just any other heavyweight, though, unfortunately for Cormier. Miocic is the most dominant Heavyweight Champion the UFC has ever seen. He holds the record for most title defenses in company history. He has walked through opponents like Francis Ngannou, Alistair Overeem, Junior dos Santos, and Fabricio Werdum, and with a win here tonight, will undeniably be the greatest heavyweight in UFC history. With the opposite outcome, Cormier, having only been beat by one man in his entire career, a proven cheat, will also extend his legacy and make an even greater case for GOAT status.
This truly is a superfight for the ages, and I think I’ll be able to drop the words I’ve been dying to forever once these competitors make their walk (run) to the cage: “BIG FIGHT FEEL”. We really haven’t had one in a while, since maybe Thug Rose and Joanna ran it back in April? Maybe I’m forgetting one since. The point is, bouts that give us, the MMA fan, a “big fight feel”, have drastically declined over the last couple years and it’s nice for a fight like this to finally come to fruition with so much on the line. Legacies, championships, everything. This is high stakes at the highest level possible and I can’t wait!
Also on the card, we’ve got Francis Ngannou vs Derrick “The Black Beast” Lewis in what should either be a one round firework slugfest or a Kimbo Slice/Dada500 tribute act, Paul Felder vs “Platinum” Mike Perry which will undoubtably rule (Felder a short-notice fill in, but he was in-camp already for a fight with James Vick supposed to take place next week so he should be fresh), Michael Chiesa vs Anthony Pettis in a fight that, uh, I guess I’m surprised hasn’t happened already, and supreme striker Gokhan Saki will take on Khalil Rountree Jr to kick the pay-per-view off.
All of those fights honestly have really great potential to be awesome, and the prelims (starting at 7pm EST on Fight Pass and 8pm EST on Fox Sports 1) look like this!
That could be a god damn Fight Night in and of itself!
You can listen to me give my picks and break down the card on Fox Sports 1’s Anik & Florian Podcast below, hosted by UFC Commentator Jon Anik and UFC Analyst (and retired fighter) Kenny Florian, which was not only a really fun time but a tremendous honor for me, having listened to those guys pretty much since they started the pod.
The LIVE BLOG portion of this post will kick in at 8pm and take us through the night, and I may even set up a Periscope for some live reactions to the main event and/or a live post-show if you guys are interested. Let me know on Twitter if that’s the case.
For now, though, either throw on that Anik & Florian Podcast (my segment begins at 50:37) or watch Derrick Lewis have an all time moment at UFC 226’s presser (where Cormier also tripped and started limping around, striking fear into the hearts of fight fans everywhere)…
See ya at 8!
8:02pm: Here we go folks! Kicking off the FS1 prelims is a welterweight bout between Curtis Millender vs Max Griffin that should be fun. These two have some bad blood going into this one. On the early Fight Pass prelims just moments ago, Dan Hooker landed a siiiick punch to knock out Gilbert burns found below.
For now, I’ll be providing an update to this post between each round/fight, and when the main card hits, that’ll speed up to multiple times per round/fight.
Welterweight Division: Curtis Millender vs Max Griffin
ROUND ONE – 8:14pm: Round One was a clear tale of two halves there. In the opening exchanges, Millender looked fucking HUUUGE and clearly displayed his power with some nice jabs, but once Griffin tied him up and pulled him to the canvas, he had NOTHING to offer. He was flailing around like homeboy Matt Serra subdued the other night. 10-9 Griffin.
ROUND TWO – 8:21pm: Clear round for Millender. He was able to adjust and really pressure Griffin, putting him on his back foot for a lot of that round (mainly the final moments of it) and even rocked him and landed a takedown for good measure at the end there. His knees are so brutal and so precise. Max Griffin was noticeably slower than he was in the first, but he’s most certainly not out of this one. The third will decide it. 19-19 Milldender.
ROUND THREE – 8:27pm: Decent final five minutes there that leads us to the judges scorecards. For me, it’s an easy 29-28 for Curtis Millender with him winning the second and third. The pressure, volume, and power were more than enough to get it done at the end, and like I said just now, THOSE KNEES! Ridiculous! It was interesting to see him keep calm and not pour it on for a finish towards the end of the third when he could’ve, but I think the fight was decisive enough at that point for me not to call poor fight IQ. I mean, he knows better than I, right? 29-28 Millender.
CURTIS MILLENDER DEF. MAX GRIFFIN VIA UNANIMOUS DECISION
Lightweight Division: Lando Vannata vs Drakkar Klose
ROUND ONE – 8:45pm: Wow, what a fun round. The pace in those first five minutes was absolutely ridiculous, which isn’t uncommon for this division or specifically Lando Vannata, but this time it was all thanks to Drakkar Klose pressuring as much as humanely possible to neutralize Groovy Lando’s offense. It worked pretty damn well, too. Other than getting taken down/having his back taken for juuuuust a second in one of the opening exchanges, this one was all Klose. He’s got Lando’s low kick/spinning backfist combo timed perfectly and lands each time it’s thrown – which was about a hundred times. If Lando hits with any of those unorthodox strikes though, even one, this fight could be over in a flash, so Drakker is gonna want to stay on course and stay…wait for it…Klose to Vannata. Get it? Because Vannata uses his reach really well? No? Alright fuck it. Second round. 10-9 Klose.
ROUND TWO – 8:50pm: Just superb work from Drakkar Klose there. Absolutely superb. He’s nailing Vannata with a killer calf kick often that’s giving the Groovy one some trouble, and cracked him with an elbow badly right in the middle of that round. He’s keeping that same nonstop pace up, and if he can continue to do that into the third and final round, this fight is his (barring a completely out-of-nowhere knockout/submission). 20-18 Klose.
ROUND THREE – 8:56pm: More of the same in the final round, with a slightly less active pace, but Klose was just a step ahead of Vannata the whole fight. We almost got that crazy out-of-nowhere submission from Lando when he took the back briefly, and that’s part of the reason why he’s such a fun fighter to watch, but “fun” don’t always get the job done. Smart does. 30-27 Klose.
DRAKKAR KLOSE DEF. LANDO VANNATA VIA UNANIMOUS DECISION
Bantamweight Division: Rob Font vs Rafael Assuncao
ROUND ONE – 9:16pm: This is a really interesting fight. Assuncao has been on a tear (excluding his lopsided loss to TJ Dillashaw at UFC 200) since his return to the cage, ranked #3 in the Bantamweight Division, and by far the best fighter Rob Font has ever met in his career. Font’s coming off a knockout of Thomas Almeida, but from the looks of the first round, wasn’t quite ready for this jump up in competition. It just appeared Assuncao knew what he was doing the whole time, controlling every aspect of the fight, and clearly brought the power as he dropped Font with that beautiful 1-2 combination. Font is going to have to use his reach a bit better going forward in this fight, doing everything he can to stay on his feet as there’s a HUGE gap in the ground game of these two, and hope he hits Rafael at the right angle. 10-9 Assuncao.
ROUND TWO – 9:22pm: Yep, that comment I made about the gap in the ground game of Assuncao and Font just became a reality, and it wasn’t pretty for the Boston native. Assuncao is just superior to Font in every way tonight and he’s putting on a great performance, perhaps setting himself up for a title shot in the near future. Font needs a finish going into the third. 20-18 Assuncao.
ROUND THREE: 9:29pm: No surprises in that one, folks. That was all Rafael Assuncao, putting up as dominant a 10-9 round as he possibly could’ve. The skill and experience gap was just too much for Font, but don’t get me wrong, this fight was not indicative of him as a fighter. I don’t think so, at least. I think this fight was simply poor matchmaking (and it’s easy for me to say that in hindsight). Font is a great fighter and he’ll bounce back from this loss. 30-27 Assuncao.
RAFAEL ASSUNCAO DEF. ROB FONT VIA UNANIMOUS DECISION
Middleweight Division: Uriah Hall vs Paulo Costa
ROUND ONE – 9:50pm: First off, I just need to say that Paulo Costa makes me physically nervous just looking at him.
The absolute size of that lad. Holy fuck. He looks like an action figure if action figures had bigger muscles. Now to address the first round of his fight against Uriah Hall – it was kinda slow, and then it was kinda awesome, and then it was kinda weird. To begin, these two did more hand holding than I’ve ever seen in a UFC fight. It was like a god damn test of strength in there, or as Joe Rogan put it, a game of mercy.
They were respecting each other’s power, which I’m fine with.
Then, Uriah Hall started working a job, and OH BUDDY did he work it. He just fuckin’ pieced Costa up with a thousand of them in that first. It was insane. There was seemingly no defense for it. No head movement (!!!), no nothin’. Costa started landing though, backing Hall up against the cage, and then this fight got awesome.
A couple nut shots from Costa later, though, we just waited around a ton towards the end of the round and things cooled down.
COSTA KNOCKS OUT HALL – 9:55pm: OHHHHH FUCK! Just when I thought Costa was going to gas, JUST as he got rocked, he just poured it on and made me scream with every punch he hit Uriah Hall with. That man has SCARY power in his hands and the Middleweights have a new serious contender. Some may call early stoppage on that, but I believe it was perfect. Hall went down face first and made no attempt to turn over or defend himself in the slightest. Consider him…erased.
PAULO COSTA DEF. URIAH HALL VIA KNOCKOUT
HERE WE FUCKIN’ GO!!! UFC 226 IS HERE! MIOCIC VS CORMIER! NGANNOU VS LEWIS! FELDER VS PERRY! CHIESA VS PETTIS! SAKI VS ROUNTREE JR! FACE THE PAAAAAIIIIIIINNNNNNNN!!!
Light Heavyweight Division: Gokhan Saki vs Khalil Rountree Jr
10:18pm: So in this one we’ve got Gokhan Saki, a supreme striker and kickboxer, taking on one of 205’s hardest hitters in his second-ever MMA fight. Saki’s first was in September and it was a dominant first-round TKO over Henrique da Silva, but Rountree will truly put his skills to the test right now as he’s much more well rounded than Saki’s last opponent. This could potentially be AWESOME and end in a first round knockout, but if it goes any longer than that, I’m expecting both guys to gas and for Rountree to try grapplefucking “The Rebel”, as even in that first round TKO I just mentioned, Saki was breathing incredibly heavily by the time his hand was raised. Let’s hope for a war instead, though, and let’s see for ourselves! Here we go!
ROUNTREE KNOCKS OUT SAKI10:25pm: THAT didn’t take long, now, did it! Everybody’s been sleeping on Rountree and he’s been sleeping everybody! Dude has HANDS! 96 seconds was all it took for him to knock out one of the world’s best kickboxers. Incredibly impressive victory and a huge step forward for him.
KHALIL ROUNTREE JR DEF. GOKHAN SAKI VIA KNOCKOUT
Lightweight Division: Michael Chiesa vs Anthony Pettis
10:34pm: What I said about this fight on Jon Anik and Kenny Florian’s podcast, which I still believe, is that it’s going to be lopsided. Either Chiesa walks Pettis down, pressures him, and boxes him in the pocket, finishing him without much trouble…or he doesn’t. And if he doesn’t, he’s going to be eaten alive with kicks. Kicks to the body, kicks to the legs, kicks to the head, just kicks kicks kicks. That’s Anthony Pettis. He’s not the fighter he once was, no, but he’s currently slept on a little more than he deserves to be. Look at who his losses are to…Rafael dos Anjos, Eddie Alvarez, Edson Barboza, Max Holloway, Dustin Poirier…KILLERS. Without the proper gameplan, AKA the one Poirier used, he will put on a show at your expense. With the right gameplan, though, it’s just a matter of putting the puzzle together.
10:42pm: Oh boy. Chiesa’s on top of Pettis right away after EASILY landing a takedown. His top game is really great, and he’s going for an arm triangle now-NEVERMIND Pettis has the back! Okay! Annnnnnd he’s off. These two are back on their feet. What I learned from that whole exchange – or, not learned, but confirmed – Michael Chiesa is WAY stronger than Anthony Pettis. That’s gonna be a serious issue for the former Lightweight Champ.
ROUND ONE – 10:46pm: Chiesa did enough for me to give him that round, but it oddly looks like he’s fading, and he’s fading fast. Pettis should capitalize as early as he can. 10-9 Chiesa.
PETTIS SUBMITS CHIESA – 10:50pm: Pettis by…SUBMISSION?! WHAT?! I thought there was no way, as historically Chiesa’s grappling has been way better than Pettis’, but he brilliantly used Chiesa’s lankiness against him and locked in a beauty of an armbar. This all came after Pettis stunned Chiesa with a straight right and made him fall against the fence with a knee attempt afterwards…following an unfortunately timed Chiesa Mutombo finger wag.
That win was vintage Pettis though, especially working off his back, and it was fucking great to have him back. Congrats to “Showtime”!
ANTHONY PETTIS DEF. MICHAEL CHIESA VIA SUBMISSION (ARMBAR)
Welterweight Division: Paul Felder vs Mike Perry
11:03pm: Paul Felder is gonna fucking dominate Mike Perry if their walkouts were any indication of how this fight is gonna go. Perry was rapping to his own music like a weirdo and Felder, the “Irish Dragon”, came out to “I’m Shipping Up To Boston” by the Dropkick Murphys, a safe, but always effective choice.
ROUND ONE – 11:10pm: A TON happened there. A mutual headbutt cut both men open the second this fight began, and then it was just swangin’ and bangin’ from there on out. Perry probably takes it on the scorecards for landing more, but Felder had his moments, including one of his signature spinning backfists landing HARD as he was being backed up. 10-9 Perry.
11:16pm: It was just pointed out on commentary that Paul Felder isn’t really throwing with his right hand much, and it’s now being contemplated that it’s broken and that’s why. That theory passes the eye test for sure, and I’m buying it. Bad news for the Irish Dragon, who was slammed hard and cut horribly in this second.
ROUND TWO – 11:18pm: Felder confirmed to his corner that his arm is, in fact, broken, and he’s FUCKED UP. I love and respect the grit, the warrior spirit that he has, but very much would prefer a towel be thrown than him going out for the third as he’s about to.
Towels gotta be thrown more often in mixed martial arts. For a sport that loves to tout about fighter safety, mid-round stoppages are certainly few and far between. 20-18 Perry.
ROUND THREE – 11:24pm: Annnd that’s why I thought the towel should’ve been thrown. With all due respect to Felder, that third round was quite frankly tough to watch. Total beatdown from Perry. Never a doubt. 30-27 Perry.
Enjoyable fight overall, and all the respect in the world to Paul Felder.
11:26pm: My jaw legit dropped when I realized this was a split decision victory. Stunning. Glad they got it right.
MIKE PERRY DEF. PAUL FELDER VIA SPLIT DECISION
Heavyweight Division: Francis Ngannou vs Derrick Lewis
11:35pm: Here comes The Predator…
I hate how much I love Derrick Lewis, because this Ngannou knockout isn’t gonna feel as good as it should.
11:39pm: Francis just walked out to ‘Despacito’. What the fuck? That’s like, the worst possible song I could ever imagine him walking out to. He needs to come out to the theme from ‘The Equalizer’ or something. Gimme something heavy. Something epic. Something that’s not fucking ‘Despacito’ when you’re Francis “The Fucking Predator” Ngannou. Bad omen imo.
ROUND ONE – 11:47pm: BOOOOOO! Worst. Round. Ever. Ngannou’s so nervous that he’s gonna gas again that he’s not doing anything. Literally not throwing punches. You gotta throw punches to win a fight if you’re Francis Ngannou. Derrick Lewis did basically nothing, because he’s worried about Ngannou’s power, but he landed like one shot so I guess he wins. 10-9 Lewis.
11:50pm: They’re doin’ nuttin. Fookin’ nuttin. Crowd is booing, chanting, turning their phone lights on, waving them like they’re at a concert. This sucks. What the fuck?
ROUND TWO – 11:53pm: Francis Ngannou and Derrick Lewis have BOTH received a warning for inactivity. Joe Rogan just said what we’re all thinking: “Without a stoppage here, we may be looking at the most boring heavyweight fight of all time.” This is a disgrace. Horrible. 20-18 Lewis.
ROUND THREE – 12:02am: Horrendous. Worst fight in UFC history. Worst fight in heavyweight history. 30-27 Lewis or something, I don’t even give a shit. Kick ‘em off the tour, Dana.
NOBODY FUCKING WON BUT WE SURE AS SHIT LOST
UFC Heavyweight Championship: Stipe Miocic (c) vs Daniel Cormier (c-LHW)
12:04am: Alright, let’s shake that last fight off and forget it ever happened. Daniel Cormier is about to challenge Stipe Miocic for the UFC Heavyweight Championship of the fucking world.
12:11am: “THE BEAST”, and the “1 in 21-1″, Brock Lesnar, is in the building. He was just shown on camera and acknowledged by commentary. My sources tell me he’s next for the winner of this main event, and that they wouldn’t be surprised if he got into the octagon following the conclusion of this bout to face-off with the winner. Cormier won’t shy away from cutting a savage promo on his ass if he wins, which would be great. Lesnar’s return is targeted for the Madison Square Garden card this November.
12:15am: DC’s run to the cage makes me fucking HYPED every time. Stipe’s murderous deadpan walk makes me poop my pants. This rules.
CORMIER KNOCKS MIOCIC OUT – 12:27am: OH MY FUCKING GOD!!! DANIEL CORMIER JUST KNOCKED OUT STIPE MIOCIC!!! I NEED TO PUT MY THOUGHTS ON THIS IN A SEPARATE BLOG BECAUSE THERE’S NO CHANCE DAVE READS THIS ONE AND HE’LL JUST ASSUME I DIDN’T COVER THE MAIN EVENT IF I DON’T!!! PELASE HOLD!!!
FINAL UPDATE – 1:08am: Alright folks, the night’s over, I’ve written my main event recap blog, and that’s all there is to it! I’ve copy/pasted my entire blog on Cormier becoming the Champ Champ below, because if you’ve made it this far, you shouldn’t have to click on a separate page for the ending to this book. As always, thank you so much for choosing to watch the fights with me tonight in this live blog, truly, and have a great night.
Daniel Cormier Is The NEW UFC Heavyweight Champion Of The World And Brock Lesnar Is Next In Line
Folks, it is absolute pandemonium in the world of MMA right now. UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier just knocked out UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic in the very first round of their SUPERFIGHT at UFC 226, called Brock Lesnar into the cage, and just created about a million pay-per-view buys.
I can’t even describe how awesome it was to see Cormier get the win tonight. He’s been one of my favorite fighters for so many years now, and never, EVER got the respect he deserved simply because Jon Jones edged out a decision against him, and then, last Summer, knocked him out. What so many fans of mixed martial arts conveniently forget, however, is that those are the only two losses in Cormier’s career. Nobody else could beat him. No light heavyweight, and no heavyweight. He is undoubtably one of the greatest fighters of all time if not THE greatest fighter of all time, and that’s a fact, jack. He’s also one of the greatest ambassadors the sport has ever had and a true gentleman.
When we had him in the office to do From The Top Rope, I was expecting him to be cool, as I’ve never heard a bad word about the guy, but he blew myself and Carrabis away with his kindness. Talked wrestling with us for an hour, answered every dumb UFC question I had for him, and then stuck around for at least a half an hour after we wrapped the interview just shooting the shit and asking about Barstool and fake-yelling at interns for sitting on lazy boys. I’ll write more about what this championship means to Cormier in the coming days, and probably have a longform blog about it on Monday, but for now I’ll just tell ya that this couldn’t have happened to a better guy and a better fighter. Daniel deserves every bit of those championships.
UFC 226 was ultimately a great event hindered badly by its co-main event, Francis Ngannou vs Derrick Lewis, which was quite possibly the worst fight in company history if not MMA history, but after what we saw at the end there, I doubt anyone will remember tonight for anything but the showmanship of that main event and post-fight. I mean that was legit straight from the Vince McMahon playbook. We know Lesnar and Cormier are friends – or at the very least – FRIENDLY, but we all bought what happened between them just now and we’re all buying their fight (which, if my sources are correct, will take place in November at Madison Square Garden).
Brock looked ten feet taller than Cormier in the cage and possibly five hundred pounds heavier than him – or, scratch that – four hundred and ninety nine pounds heavier than him (DC was lookin’ dumb thicc at heavyweight).
Overall this was a fantastic night for the UFC, a fantastic night for our friend Daniel Cormier, and a fantastic night for fight fans. I live-blogged the whole card, from the Fox Sports 1 prelims to the final blow landed by Cormier, and detailed each and every moment giving minute-by-minute updates along the way, so check that out HERE if you’re looking for more of my coverage/takes on tonight.
God bless the barbaric human cockfighting.