The card featured nine athletes of color including a sold-out main event.
This weekend, MMA came through dripping. Drip drip.
Daniel “DC” Cormier(22-1) became the first fighter in UFC history to officially hold two titles simultaneously and successfully defend both. He submitted Derrick “The Beast” Lewis (21-6) via rear-naked choke at 2 minutes, 14 seconds of the second round in a bout that headlined UFC 230 at Madison Square Garden Saturday night.
As well as being the first UFC heavyweight title fight at New York’s historic venue, it also added to the UFC’s history with MSG as all three the organization’s cards held at MSG have featured victories by two-weight division champions in Cormier, Georges St-Pierre and Conor McGregor.
“It’s history, baby,” said Cormier, who improved his heavyweight record to 15-0 (4-0 in UFC). “History in the making — Daniel Cormier, one of the best of all time!
“I think a lot of people have to understand, I’ve been doing this for nine years. I’ve fought at the championship level for eight of them. There are no surprises with me. If you have a puncher’s chance, that’s not enough. You have to be one of the best in the world to even compete.”
Saturday’s fight marked Cormier’s first heavyweight title defense, and the victory kept a planned matchup against WWE star Brock Lesnar intact for early 2019.
“Brock Lesnar, when you come, bring that new WWE title,” Cormier said. “I feel like being a WWE champion, too. Let’s go, Brock. Bring that belt with you if you come to my house.”
The former U.S. Olympic wrestler easily took Lewis down and, although Lewis managed to work back to his feet on several occasions, Cormier stuck to him and gave him no space to land any offense.
Lewis threw several haymakers in the second round with bad intentions, but Cormier slipped the shots and calmly went about taking him back to the floor. The finish came after Lewis tried to turtle up and stand. Cormier transitioned to his back and sank in the choke.
Cormier finished the fight 4-for-4 on takedowns and outlanded Lewis 19-4 on significant strikes, according to FightMetric.
The card, which was a sales nightmare with no main event a few weeks ago, changed its trajectory when Cormier and Lewis were billed as the main event. The fight took a weird promotional turn once Cormier’s famous Popeye chicken endorsement was exploited by Lewis and actually audaciously used as a marketing talking point.
However, great fights featuring fighters of color permeated the entire card, giving rise to new stars that fans might not have heard of before the fight.
Karl Roberson of Neptune, NJ faced Jack Marshman and won the fight via unanimous decision. On the strength of his knockout win on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, Roberson was signed to a contract with the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Sijara Eubanks, a women’s flyweight that is #4 in official UFC women’s flyweight rankings, defeated Roxanne Modafferi via unanimous decision. At the weigh-ins, Eubanks weight at 127.2 pounds, 1.2 pounds over the flyweight non-title fight limit of 126 and she was fined 20 percent of her purse, which went to her opponent Mondafferi.
David Branch, a former two-weight world champion that held the WSOF Middleweight Championship and WSOF Light Heavyweight Championship, lost this weekend to Jared Cannonier via technical knockout in round two, marking the first time he’s been stopped due to strikes.
In the “Fight of the Night” Brazil’s Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza deflated the hyped New York City crowd at Madison Square Garden when he defeated former UFC middleweight champion, Chris Weidman, via a vicious technical knockout in the third round. It was a statement-making move that culminated from Jacare’s vicious body shots that made the head follow the downward spiral.
Daniel Cormier has said he will retire by his 40th birthday in March. The UFC announced on fight night that March 2nd will be UFC 235 in the T-Mobile Arena, which seems tailor-made for “DC’s” swan song fight. The American Kickboxing Academy product has only lost to former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, who will be fighting Alexander Gustafsson for the light heavyweight championship on December 29, at which point Cormier will give up his 205-pound title.
Both Cormier and Jones have said they don’t feel a third fight between them is necessary. Cormier lost to Jones twice at 205 pounds, but the second fight in July 2017 was changed to a no-contest after Jones failed a drug test.
With the way MMA is currently set up, athletes of color are not only pushing the narrative but now also making the company, and themselves, huge financial gains. The only aspect that needs to catch up are the audiences of color to support the fights and the way these fights, and fighters, are marketed to the world.