When Daniel Cormier stepped on the scale for UFC 210 on Saturday, it was the start of a succession of weirdness that lasted from start to finish in Buffalo, NY. During his first weigh-in attempt, Cormier came in at 206.2, a full pound plus for the 205lb title limit. It was enough that Cormier arrived literally 5 minutes before the weigh-ins were over, but then to not be on weight as a champion was surprising.
Shockingly, Cormier came back two minutes later and while gripping the towel which shielded his naked body, made the weight. Derided as an old wrestlers trick by the fans and his biggest critic, former UFC champion Jon Jones, Cormier was berated with cries of being considered a cheater for using the towel to levitate the pound off of the scale.
The New York State Athletic Commission, which only allows re-weighs for championship bouts, saw nothing wrong with the it and allowed the bout to proceed for the title.
During the fights, the circus antics continued as Gegard Mousasi took an ugly win over former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman. In Saturdays pay-per-view co-main event, Weidman (13-3 MMA, 9-3 UFC) suffered a second-round TKO loss to Mousasi (42-6-2 MMA, 9-3 UFC). However, Mousasis fight-ending knee strikes are at the center of the debate.
The fight, Weidmans third straight loss, was thrown into disarray in the second round. Referee Dan Miragliotta halted the action and warned Mousasi about a pair of knee strikes that appeared to be illegal because Weidman, who had initially attempted a takedown, had both of his hands on the mat, which constituted a downed fighter.
Replays, though, appeared to show one of Weidmans hands being forced off the mat just prior to Mousasi delivering what proved a fight-ending knee to the head. Thus, since Weidman apparently had one hand off the mat at the time of the blow, it was considered legal.
Miragliotta, who initially deemed it illegal and offered Weidman five minutes to recover, then consulted with officials who had seen the replays then the blow was deemed legal. Mousasi was declared the TKO winner at the 3:13 mark of the round and it was announced by Weidmans camp that he plans on appealing the decision.
The night continued with a pair of post-fight retirement announcements. Patrick Cote was the first to declare the finish of his MMA career after losing a unanimous decision to Thiago Alves. The French-Canadian had a teary breakdown while delivering the unexpected announcement during his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan.
In the main event, Anthony Rumble Johnson shocked the word twice when he employed a wrestling heavy strategy that resulted in a repeat submission loss via rear naked choke. In their last outing, Cormier submitted Rumble in the third round. This time he finished him earlier in the second round. Fans expected Johnson to deliver his signature strikes that have finished his last three opponents before Cormier.
In the post-fight interview, Johnson was the second fighter to retire, announcing that he was tired of the training grind of the fight industry. He also said that he has already made a commitment to another job, but refused to announce where and when. Although impromptu, the crowd was very saddened by the retirement and cheered Johnson while booing the new villainous image of Cormier.
In the crowd was former light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans, who sat conspicuously by former teammate Jon Jones. The two have had their differences and it was surprising to see them seated together.
Lastly, at the post-fight press conference after months of denying the possibility, UFC President Dana White revealed that the Floyd Mayweather, Jr. vs. Conor McGregor event would happen. The UFC boss confirmed that he would meet with McGregor in NYC after the birth of his child to hammer out the details and begin negotiations with the Mayweather camp. The new fight of the century will soon be underway and the makings of a pay-per-view juggernaut are on the horizon.
UFC 210 was a true circus indeed. And with the closing of Ringling Bros, the new UFC is apparently right on time.