UFC 210 went down in the books on April 8th from the KeyBank Center in Buffalo, New York. This second event in the city had success, seeing seven finishes with four coming on the entertaining pay-per-view. The promotion’s only other visit to Buffalo occurred at UFC 7 in September of 1995.
Saturday night’s main event saw the long-awaited rematch for the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship between title holder Daniel Cormier and challenger Anthony Johnson. Most believed the striking advantage of Johnson would reign supreme, having finished three straight top 205-pound contenders in a row. However, Cormier’s wrestling would play a key factor in the outcome of the fight, forcing Johnson to submit by rear-naked choke at three minutes and thirty-seven seconds of the second round.
In the most unusual moment of the night, Gegard Mousasi was awarded a TKO victory after Chris Weidman was deemed unable to continue from doctor’s advice. The situation occurred from Mousasi initiating a flurry of knees to the head of Weidman, seeing referee Dan Miragliotta call for time in belief a landed knee was illegal. We shall eventually see what the future plans may be in regards to a potential rematch or change in the final result between these two.
Both Cynthia Calvillo and Charles Oliveira picked up rear-naked choke victories on the pay-per-view portion of the night’s event. Thiago Alves also managed to return to the win column, earning his first win in over two years.
The more shocking stories from the night came with the announcement of both Anthony Johnson and Patrick Cote’s retirement from mixed martial arts. The two were fan-favorites in their own respected regard, and the two leave behind plenty of memories inside the octagon to be remembered for a lifetime.
Following Cormier’s second title defense and Mousasi’s controversial win, we provide the top five fights to make after UFC 210.
5. Thiago Alves vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio
It was a much needed victory for former UFC welterweight title challenger Thiago Alves, who earned a unanimous decision victory Saturday night over Patrick Cote. Following injuries and a two year hiatus, Alves saw his return in April of 2014 putting together back-to-back wins. Despite losing his next two, this win shows that the 22-fight UFC veteran still has game.
Alves is now lingering right around the fifteenth mark of the UFC rankings, and I believe his performance has earned him a shot against someone ranked. Exciting striker Santiago Ponzinibbio has started to make a name for himself, putting together four straight wins since a “Fight of the Night” TKO loss to Lorenz Larkin in June of 2015. The Argentine has yet to fight anyone with the name of a guy like Alves, who is trying to once again climb his way back to the top.
4. Kamaru Usman vs. Neil Magny
Kamaru Usman put together a fairly dominate victory over Sean Strickland, taking each round and utilizing a dynamic gameplan throughout the 15-minute affair. One lone blemish sticks out on his fight career, coming back in May of 2013. Usman would compete on Season 21 of The Ultimate Fighter, taking the welterweight tournament with his submission victory over Hayder Hassan. He has now earned nine straight seeing five come in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
In Usman’s post-fight interview, he called out #6-ranked Neil Magny, who is coming off a unanimous decision victory over Johny Hendricks. The fight makes a lot of sense, seeing Usman with five victories now in the UFC and Magny coming off that impressive win.
3. Charles Oliveira vs. Michael Johnson
Charles Oliveira did not have a successful 2016, the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt being choked out by guillotine twice to both Anthony Pettis and Ricardo Lamas. Saturday night was crucial for him to stay ranked near the top, and he did what he needed to do. Oliveira secured a first round rear-naked choke over former Bellator lightweight champion Will Brooks, tying him for second with the most submissions in UFC history. The victory was also his fourth “Performance of the Night” bonus and his 10th earned with the promotion.
I believe there are many options for Oliveira at lightweight; his numerous struggles with making the featherweight limit will more than likely never see him in that division again. For Oliveira’s next lightweight bout and with this win over Brooks, a match-up between he and Michael Johnson. He last gone 1-3 in his last four bouts, but his devastating striking power and victories on his resume keep him near the top. This would make for your classic “striker vs. grappler” match-up, with the winner stepping closer towards the top.
2. Gegard Mousasi vs. Yoel Romero
The finish was not pretty and very confusing to everyone watching, including the fighters and referee. Still, Gegard Mousasi’s hand was raised by second-round TKO over former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman. After a shocking knockout loss to Uriah Hall in September of 2015, Mousasi has rallied together five straight victories seeing four by knockout in either the first or second round.
Most are asking for a rematch between Mousasi and Weidman, due to the controversial ending witnessed in the fight. Weidman may test free agency for all we know, as this fight was his final on the contract. However, he did mention in his post-fight interview he plans on re-signing with the UFC. A rematch, though, against Mousasi could easily put him at risk of a fourth consecutive loss after being undefeated.
Honestly, it’s hard with the complexity at 185 pounds to determine who should fight who on a particular date. Since Mousasi continues to deliver, and with Michael Bisping vs. Georges St. Pierre looming in the undetermined future, let’s pair him up against the current #1 middleweight challenger Yoel Romero. The man has won eight in a row with six of them coming by knockout. That fight between Bisping and GSP could happen months down the line, so let’s plan a fight with Mousasi and Romero rather than having everyone sit on the sidelines.
1. Daniel Cormier vs. Jon Jones
Daniel Cormier made a very impressive statement Saturday night. A shin to the face broke the bridge of Cormier’s nose in the first, but he came back strong in round two by scoring a takedown, the back, and a rear-naked choke finish over Anthony Johnson. “DC” has now won four straight with two light heavyweight title defenses.
Cormier is an extremely talented athlete in all aspects of the sport, holding 19 victories in competition. However, he still holds that single decision loss on his record to Jon Jones, whose time frame for a return is a little wacky. He’s suspension is set to end in July of 2017, which is still quite a ways away (three months). The most likely option for a scheduled title fight would be between Cormier and Jimi Manuwa, who is coming off a two-fight knockout streak after taking a year layoff from competition. Both are fantastic options, but I think a majority of mixed martial art fans want the rematch between heated rivals Cormier and Jones.
Other fights to make after UFC 210
Cynthia Calvillo vs. Joanne Calderwood
Myles Jury vs. Renan Barao
Shane Burgos vs. Godofredo Pepey
Pat Cummins vs. Steve Bosse
Gregor Gillespie vs. Magomed Mustafaev
Desmond Green vs. Johnny Case
Katlyn Chookagian vs. Marion Reneau
Magomed Bibulatov vs. Alexandre Pantoja
Anthony Johnson: announced retirement following fight
Chris Weidman vs. Sam Alvey/Thales Leites winner
Pearl Gonazlez vs. JJ Aldrich
Patrick Cote: announced retirement following fight
Will Brooks vs. Lando Vannata
Mike De La Torre: released
Sean Strickland vs. Elizeu Zaleski
Charles Rosa vs. Makwan Amirkhani
Jan Blachowicz vs. Saparbek Safarov
Andrew Holbrook vs. Reza Madadi
Josh Emmett vs. Jason Gonzalez
Irene Aldana vs. Jessica Eye
Jenel Lausa vs. Hector Sandoval