Despite the last-minute loss of its Johny Hendricks vs. Tyron Woodley co-main event, UFC 192 delivered as a great night of fights. The card, which marked the UFC's 335th event overall and 4th trip to Houston's Toyota Center, was headlined by a light heavyweight title bout between Daniel Cormier and Alexander Gustafsson, and featured action across all but two of the UFC's divisions: middleweight and men's bantamweight.
Highlighted by fantastic performances from some hot prospects, plenty of first-round stoppages on the undercard, and an unforgettable main event, it was truly one for the history books.
Here's a recap of the action for those who missed it!
The Main Card:
DC Edges Alexander Gustafsson in Epic Title Fight
Greatness just seems to follow light heavyweight title fights wherever they go. This time around, that greatness touched down in Houston.
The ingredients for this instance of greatness were as follows: 366 total strikes (the majority of which were landed by the wrestler Cormier), 3 takedowns (two of which were landed by the striker Gustafsson), and an immeasurable quantity of heart that saw both fighter persevere, black-eyed and bloody-nosed, to the final bell of a historic light heavyweight barnburner.
In the end, though it really could have gone either way, a split decision verdict kept the belt around Cormier's waist. In victory, he moves to 17-1 overall and 6-1 in the UFC. In addition to this gritty victory, Cormier also deserves credit for one hell of a post-fight speech, which will surely make UFC sound-bites for years to come.
"You made me a better man and fighter tonight," he told his battered opponent.
In defeat, Gustafsson falls short in another razor-thin title fight, and enters the first two-fight losing streak of his career. And while this is sure to be demoralizing for the popular Swede, he lost no ground in this loss to Cormier. In fact, he effectively erased the memory of his recent knockout loss to Anthony "Rumble" Johnson. He now sits at 16-4 overall and 8-4 in the Octagon.
And then, of course, there's Jon Jones, whose inevitable return casts a shadow over the entire division…
Ryan Bader Out-Strikes Rashad Evans to Unanimous Decision
Rashad Evans entered his UFC 192 bout with Ryan Bader on a two-fight win-streak, but we hadn't seen him in action since he beat the brakes of Chael Sonnen nearly two years ago. Leading into the bout, then, there were many questions about the effect ring rust would have on his performance.
In the end, ring rust proved to be far less of a factor than the overall improvements to Bader's game. For the duration of the fight, the once clunky striker consistently beat Evans to the punch, having out-landed him nearly 2-1 by the time the final bell rang. This success, when combined with a trio of successful takedowns were more than enough to earn Bader the unanimous nod.
This triumph resides among the biggest of Bader's career, and elevates his current winning streak to 5. He now sits at 20-4 in total, with a whopping 13 wins as a UFC light heavyweight. And while it's difficult to say how he'll fair against the light heavyweight division's four best fighters, he's certainly earned the chance to test himself in their company.
Evans, on the other hand, experiences his first loss since February 2013 and falls to 19-4. And while he remains one of the division's bet, he clearly had a hard time finding his mojo in Houston. Where he goes from here is hard to say.
Ruslan Magomedov Batters Shawn Jordan
The middle bout of UFC 192's main card came courtesy of the heavyweight division, as Shawn Jordan looked to build on a three-fight win-streak with a victory over Dagestan's Ruslan Magomedov. Jordan was not successful on this mission.
Despite landing some meaningful offense in the first frame, he was gradually picked apart by his rangy opponent down the stretch, eating dozens of punches and a handful of whipping question mark kicks throughout. Regardless of whether the American's failure to return fire had anything to do with an apparent rib injury, by the time the seconds had worn out on the clock, he was clearly behind on the scorecards.
The unanimous decision victory—his sixth in a row, which is certainly an anomaly at heavyweight—moves Magomedov to a solid 14-1. Now training alongside Cain Velasquez and Daniel Cormier at American Kickboxing Academy, he is certainly a fighter to watch at heavyweight.
Jordan, in contrast, loses for the first time since March of 2014. He's now 18-7 overall, and 6-4 as a UFC heavyweight.
Joseph Benavidez Outduels Ali Bagautinov
The second bout of the main card paired two of the world's best flyweights, both of whom have already lost to reigning champ Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson. In one corner, we had the division's clear-cut, second-best fighter, Joseph Benavidez. In the other, we had Dagestan's Ali Bagautinov, who returned from a long absence after testing positive for EPO in a 2014 title bout with Johnson.
Both fighters had their moments throughout the bout and managed to bust each other up in the process. After three rounds of action, however, Benavidez had simply done more.
The unanimous decision triumph pushes him to a wicked 23-4 overall and 11-2 in the UFC. Now, having reaffirmed his status as the division's unshakable number two, he can turn his attention to his looming marriage to UFC correspondent Megan Olivi.
Bagautinov, on the other hand, falls to 13-4 and remains winless since February 1, 2014. That said, now that he's served his sentence, its good to have him back in the ever-evolving flyweight division.
Julianna Peña Edges Jessica Eye in Fun Fight
In the first bout of the main card, TUF winner Julianna Peña got her first top-10 opponent in the UFC's 6th-ranked female bantamweight, Jessica Eye.
It was a grueling, back-and-forth affair during which both women had their moments. In the end however—thanks in part to a second-round point deduction after Eye landed an illegal knee on the ground—Peña passed her big test.
In victory, she moves to a strong 7-2 overall, and 3-0 in the UFC (6-0 if you count her TUF bouts). And while her continued calls for a bout with Ronda Rousey remain somewhat premature, with this win she is likely to take her first steps into the bantamweight top-10.
Eye, on the other hand, has fallen on tough times. She's now 11-4 overall, and 1-4 with one no-contest inside the Octagon. And while she remains a tough out for any bantamweight on the roster, there's no substitute for victory. She'll need a W in her next bout, or it may mean a ticket to Bellator's planned women's flyweight division.
Yair Rodriguez Braves Broken Foot, Decisions Daniel Hooker
Before UFC 192, TUF Latin America winner Yair Rodriguez had never fought outside his native Mexico. That changed when he stepped onto the canvas in Houston with fellow featherweight prospect Daniel Hooker.
As it turns out, Rodriguez's first assignment outside Mexico would be a successful one. Relying on a diverse and inventive stand-up attack, the TUF winner baffled his Kiwi opponent throughout rounds one and two. And though he slowed considerably in the third, he can hardly be faulted considering he broke his foot midway through the fight.
The win moves the 22-year-old Rodriguez to a strong 6-1 overall, and reaffirms his status as one of the game's most promising young fighters. Hooker, on the other hand, has the momentum of a May knockout win over Hatsu Hioki halted, and falls to 12-6 in total. He's now .500 in the UFC at 2-2.
Albert Tumenov Torches Alan Jouban in Round One
The lone welterweight bout of the evening paired surging Russian prospect Albert Tumenov with Alan Jouban, who has apparently signed a promotional deal with fashion giant Versace.
Unfortunately, the Versace deal is all Jouban will have to celebrate this week. Despite a spirited effort and a great display of heart, he eventually found himself on the wrong end of a beautiful combination from the Russian striker. It's just the second stoppage loss on Jouban's record, and it pushes him to 12-4 overall.
In victory, Tumenov moves to an awesome 16-2. He's now 4-1 in the Octagon, with three knockouts wins in that stretch. Given his noteworthy accomplishments as a UFC fighter, the 23-year-old's post-fight calls for a top-15 opponent in his next bout might just come true. Of course, in a shark tank like the UFC welterweight division, young fighters should be careful what they wish for.
Adriano Martins KO Gives Islam Makhachev His First Loss
In January 2014, Brazil's Adriano Martins had his lights shut off by a Donald Cerrone high kick. Since then, he's rebounded with two solid wins over Juan Manuel Puig and Rustam Khabilov. At UFC 192, he looked to extend his win-streak to three against a dangerous, undefeated prospect: Khabib Nurmagomedov training partner Islam Makhachev. He did so in a big way.
From the opening bell of this clash of southpaws, Makhachev sacrificed defense for aggression. And though he appeared to stumble Martins in the bout's early moments, he would eventually pay for his recklessness. After missing with a winging left hand, the Dagestan native was caught with a perfectly timed counter right and hit the canvas in a heap a second later.
The first-round knockout win moves Martins to an impressive 28-7 overall, and 4-1 in the UFC. And with wins over two of Dagestan's best in the rear-view, he may soon find himself knocking on the door of the lightweight top-15. Makhachev, on the other hand, experiences his first loss. He's now 12-1 overall and 1-1 inside the Octagon.
Rose Namajunas Taps Angela Hill in the First
The first of UFC 192's two women's bouts paired The Ultimate Fighter season 20 teammates Angela "Overkill" Hill and Rose Namajunas. And while many pegged this one as a likely candidate for Fight of the Night honors, it simply didn't last long enough for such things.
After some spirited striking exchanges to open the first frame, Namajunas took Hill's back to lock up a deep rear-naked choke. Moments later, Hill was out.
With this submission win, Namajunas reminds the world why she holds the number-4 spot in the UFC strawweight rankings. She's now 1-1 in the UFC, and 3-2 overall—a record that is hardly indicative of her talent. Hill, meanwhile, assumes Namajunas' old record of 2-2. She's now 1-2 as a UFC fighter and can't afford a loss in her next bout.
Sage Northcutt Blitzes Francisco Trevino for Successful UFC Debut
UFC 192 was not a good night for Francisco Trevino. After missing the lightweight cap by 4 pounds, the Mexican fighter found himself being mushed into the canvas just 57 seconds into round one. His opponent? A fighter who is not even old enough to buy alcohol in The United States: Sage Northcutt.
The 19-year-old Northcutt, who is the probably the most hyped UFC debutant since Conor McGregor, capitalized on an early Trevino slip with a takedown and ground-and-pound to earn this epic TKO win. With a successful UFC debut in the books, he's now 6-0 overall, and appears to be destined for big things in the organization.
Trevino, in contrast, enters the first two-fight losing streak of his career. He's now 12-2 overall, and 1-2 inside the Octagon. He can probably look forward to some kind of punishment for shoving Herb Dean whilst protesting the stoppage too.
Sergio Pettis Weathers Late Scare to Beat Chris Cariaso
The second bout of the night paired former flyweight title challenger Chris Cariaso with Sergio Pettis, the younger brother of former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis.
In advance of the bout, the 22-year-old Pettis was pegged as a -200 favorite, and this time around, those betting odds proved accurate. Despite a heel-hook scare in the third round, the Duke Roufus student's showings in rounds one and two were more than enough to earn him a decision.
In victory he rebounds from a loss to Ryan Benoit in his last outing, and moves to a strong 13-2 overall. Cariaso, on the other hand, slips onto a three-fight losing streak and now sits at 17-8 in total.
Derrick Lewis Survives Adversity for TKO over Viktor Pesta
In the first bout of the night, former LFC heavyweight champion Derrick Lewis looked to rebound from a tough loss to Shawn Jordan with a win over Viktor Pesta. And though he was soundly out-grappled for all of round one and most of round two, he eventually came through with an earth-shaking TKO win in the third.
The hometown triumph moves Lewis to 13-4 overall, and 4-2 in the UFC. Pesta, meanwhile, moves to 10-2 overall and now owns a 1-2 UFC record. The Czech fighter will have to make his next fight count.