History was made at UFC 226 on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, where Daniel Cormier became the fifth two-division titleholder in Ultimate Fighting Championship history and only the second fighter to hold belts in two weight classes simultaneously. His main event with Stipe Miocic ended in a blur of punches, and while it was one for the ages, those who were watching it may remember it more for the post-fight spectacle than anything else.
Cormier and Miocic chose to forego the feeling-out process. Miocic was intent on playing the lead, stalking “DC” around the Octagon while looking to land heavy shots and put the light heavyweight champion in peril. Cormier stayed composed and picked his shots from the outside and in the clinch. While exiting one of those clinches, the American Kickboxing Academy captain connected with a stiff right hand that sent Miocic crashing to the canvas. From there, Cormier followed up with ground-and-pound, dribbling his counterpart’s head on the mat until the stoppage was called 4:33 into Round 1. With that, the UFC heavyweight title was his.
Afterward, Cormier took the microphone from Joe Rogan and called Brock Lesnar into the Octagon to begin hyping a showdown with the current World Wrestling Entertainment superstar and former UFC heavyweight champion. A shove from Lesnar and a tongue lashing from Cormier led to the expected social media uproar. Beyond the hoopla surrounding a matchup with Lesnar, “DC” cemented his legacy as one of the greatest fighters of all-time.
An Unexpected Outcome
When a battle between Derrick Lewis and Francis Ngannou was confirmed for UFC 226, the overwhelming sentiment was that the heavyweight contest would be a shoo-in for most violent fight of the night. What transpired was far from it. Lewis and Ngannou teamed up for one of the most forgettable fights in UFC history, their three-round encounter leaving observers to scratch their heads in confusion. Lewis was awarded a unanimous decision, as he posted his second straight win.
Both men were reluctant to throw early, for fear of being countered with a fight-ending blow. Much to the dismay of those in attendance, the entire fight played out in a similar manner. Lewis stayed slightly busier than his counterpart, but neither man seemed interested in engaging the other. All told, the two heavyweights combined to throw just 100 total strikes across 15 minutes, according to FightMetric.
Many have since questioned Ngannou’s mental resolve, as this was his first appearance since his one-sided decision loss to Miocic in January.
A Bloody Affair
Mike Perry was originally slated to face Yancy Medeiros on the UFC 226 prelims. Alas, injury forced the Hawaiian off the card. In stepped lightweight mainstay Paul Felder. The fight marked Felder’s first appearance at 170 pounds, and it lived up to expectations. When the dust cleared, Perry was declared the winner by split decision in a back-and-forth brawl that left both men bloodied and beaten.
The fight was contested primarily on the feet, with both fighters forgoing the feeling-out process and opting to throw kill shots early and often. The tide shifted in the second round, where Perry landed a left hook that opened a bloody gash over Felder’s eye, raining blood onto his face and torso while impeding his vision throughout the remainder of the fight. It was the first decision win of Perry’s career.
During his post-fight interview, Perry credited his move to Jackson-Wink MMA with helping him prepare for one of the most important fights of his career. He entered the cage on a two-fight losing streak but now appears poised to make noise in the welterweight division.
Anthony Pettis and Michael Chiesa squared off in a UFC 226 lightweight showcase. Chiesa made the game plan known early on, as he looked to assert his dominance in the grappling department while working towards ground-and-pound and submission attempts. He enjoyed some success in the first round and tried to pick up where he left off in the second. However, Pettis cracked Chiesa with a right hand, forced him to defend a subsequent guillotine and then secured a triangle armbar from the bottom, prompting the tapout … Khalil Rountree finished Gokhan Saki in the first round of their main card opener, landing a straight left that sent the accomplished kickboxer crashing to the canvas. Rountree then followed with hammerfists, forcing the referee to step in and call for the stoppage. Saki looked to establish range with leg kicks and jabs and seemed content to hunt for counters as Rountree waded in aggressively. Rountree was the first man to land solid, and Saki was unable to recover. Rountree owns a 3-0 record, with one no-contest, over his last four appearances … Paulo Henrique Costa and Uriah Hall locked horns in the featured prelim. Costa looked to employ his patented strategy of stalking his opponent around the Octagon, as he tried to tee off with heavy boxing combinations, interchanging shots to Hall’s body and head. On the opposite side, Hall was content to play behind his jab and capitalize on the Brazilian’s early aggression. The momentum shifted in the middle of the second round, where Costa clipped the two-time Ring of Combat champion coming in and caused him to retreat. Costa smelled blood in the water and immediately began hunting for the finish. The final combination of blows ended with a brutal body shot that sent Hall to the canvas. The win moved Costa to 12-0.