UFC 178 was an entertaining show. All five fights on the pay per view delivered in some individual way. New stars were created and old stars have successfully returned, and considering UFC’s problems creating enticing main events right now, the promotion needs all the starpower it can get.
And that was the problem with the show: lack of star power on top. After Demetrious Johnson successfully defended the Flyweight title by submitting Chris Carisao with a kimura in 2:29 of the second round, people in the MGM Grand were immediately making their way for the exit. Few stayed to watch the post-match, to see if DJ called someone out (he didn’t), or to see what he had to say about the fight.
In advertising, it was really promoted as a triple main event, with Johnson-Cariaso clearly being the weakest of those three fights. The first of the other two main events featured Donald Cerrone defeating Eddie Alvarez via unanimous decision on straight 29-28 cards. Alvarez was making his long-awaited UFC debut and was hyped as the last best fighter not currently in the UFC, although everytime they said that on the broadcast, my mind went “Ben Askren”. Cerrone was riding a four-fight winning streak going into the bout.
Cerrone now looks in line for a title shot for Anthony Pettis’s Lightweight title. Pettis is currently booked to defend the title this year against Gilbert Melendez, so Cerrone will have to wait for a title shot until 2015. Khabib Nurmagomedov is also ranked ahead of Cerrone and is 22-0 with wins over top fighters in the division and figures to be in line for a title match, although Nurmagomedov is currently on the shelf with a knee injury. Perhaps Cerrone vs Nurmagomedov is the match to make to face the winner of the Melendez-Pettis title match. Cerrone vs Nurmagomedov nearly happened on this card. If I were UFC, I would book the winner of Melendez-Pettis against Cerrone without Cerrone fighting anyone in-between to take advantange of Cerrone’s current success with the idea of turning Cerrone into a drawing card on pay per view. But that depends on how long it takes to book Cerrone into a fight against the winner of Pettis-Melendez.
The other main event saw Conor McGregor TKO Dustin Poirier in 1:46. McGregor was easily the biggest star on the show, coming off on the live show as a superstar on a higher level than anyone else fighting on the pay per view. Jose Aldo is defending the Featherweight title against Chad Mendes on pay per view next month. McGregor would figure to be next in line for a title shot after that fight. Cub Swanson and Frankie Edgar are booked to fight in November, though, and the winner of that fight will probably be in line for a title match, too. McGregor is easily the most marketable challenger for the title and based on that he should probably get the next shot.
If UFC 178 does well on pay per view, I think it will largely be due to McGregor’s promo abilities. I don’t think anyone cared about the Demetrious Johnson title defense against the unknown Cariaso, who was only ranked eighth in the division and barely had any business getting a title shot. The last time DJ headlined a pay per view, against equally unknown Ali Bagautinov, it only drew around 115,000 buys. There was a lot of interest in the Cerrone-Alvarez fight, and combining these three fights together made the card stronger up-and-down, but I think it was McGregor selling his fight against Poirier in the last week of media that will give it a fighting chance on pay per view.
The show drew 10,554 people to MGM Grand for a gate of $2.2 million. That’s an average of $208.65 per ticket. UFC didn’t announce the amount of comp tickets given out, but tickets were still available through TicketMaster the day before the show. For UFC pay per views in 2014, UFC 178 finished fourth among live gates, behind UFC 175 in Vegas, UFC 171 in Dallas, and UFC 172 in Baltimore.
Manvel Gamburyan submitted Cody Gibson with a guillotine choke at 4:51 of the second round. Gamburyan was behind in the fight when he scored a takedown and locked in the guillotine choke. Gibson tapped with nine seconds left in the round. Gibson won the first round and if he had survived the second, he would have just needed to win the third round to win the fight.
After the match, Gamburyan did a funny promo where he said he wanted to fight Bryan Caraway. He called Ronda Rousey, who was sitting ringside all night, into the cage and she was laughing about it.
Kevin Lee beat Jon Tuck via unanimous decision on straight scores of 30-26. The 10-8 round for Lee came in the second round as Tuck was deducted a point for a low blow.
Brian Ebersole beat John Howard via split-decision on cards of 29-28, 29-28, and 28-29. I had Howard winning 29-28, with Ebersole winning the first round and Howard winning the last two. All three judges had Ebersole winning the first and all three had Howard winning the second. Two of three judges had Ebersole winning the third, which won him the fight. It was a terrible fight, the worst of the night. It was as boring as possible, with neither guy doing anything to deserve the win. Realistically it was the type of bout where both guys look like losers rather than at least one of them looking like a winner. Ebersole had his chest hair cut once again like an arrow pointing up, which looks ridiculous. In the first round, Ebersole was able to take Howard’s back, although Howard reversed late. There looked like what might have been an illegal upkick by Ebersole near the end, and both guys were complaining to the ref, but nothing came of it. The crowd was already booing early in the first round. In round two, they traded low kicks. Howard got some punches in and took Ebersole down and eventually got his back. Ebersole reversed in the final minute, but Howard reversed it again. In round three, Ebersole landed some more strikes and tried for a takedown, but didn’t get it. Howard landed some and Ebersole was bleeding from the nose. Howard landed low kicks and body punches while int he clinch. He hit Ebersole with a knee. It was a close third round, with Howard landing 29 of 39 significant strikes and Ebersole landing 28 of 58. They both bowed in the center of the cage in respect to one another. Realistically this fight could have been judged either way since there was no real winner. If the UFC wasn’t in such need of talent because the promotion is running so many events, neither of these guys would likely be on the roster.
Stephen Thompson beat Patrick Cote via unanimous decision on scores of 29-28, 29-28, and 30-27. I had it 30-27 for Thompson. This was a disappointing fight as I think people expected Cote to come and slug more than he did, and instead he stood back and was worked over by Thompson. He might have had a hard time with Thompson’s irregular stance, which Thompson has adapted from point karate. It was a slow fight and Cote, who is normally a crowd favourite, came across as dull. Goldberg and Rogan pushed on commentary that Thompson was the only guy that does karate in UFC like this with the exception of Lyoto Machida. In the first round, Cote was able to land low kicks and knees. Thompson came back with side kicks from his unusual stance, plus some jabs. Cote tried for takedowns, but couldn’t get them. I had the first round for Thompson, but two of three judges scored it for Cote. Scores in the media were also split between who won the first round. In the first, Cote landed 26 significant strikes and Thompson landed 13, so it retrospect it was probably Cote’s round. In round two, Thompson tagged Cote with jabs and low kicks. They traded punches, but Thompson was able to land far more, although Cote came on a bit stronger near the end of the round. In round three, Thompson came out with a high kick. Cote tried to take him down, but couldn’t. Thompson’s nose was bloodied and they exchanged body kicks. Thompson dropped Cote with a right hand, but rather than going for the finish let him back up, which was probably the last thing the crowd wanted to see as they were booing how slow this fight was. The last minute picked up with Cote trying some roundhouse kicks, looking for the knockout, but not finding it.
Jorge Masvidal beat James Krause via unanimous decision on scores of 30-27, 30-27, and 29-28. I scored the fight 30-27. Masvidal came across as highly skilled, beating a good fighter in what was somewhat of a slow fight until closer to the finish. In round one, they traded punches. Krause tried for a takedown, but Masvidal blocked it. Masvidal started landing more punches than Krause as the round wore on. Still, one judge found it enough to give the first round to Krause. In round two, Krause was able to take Masvidal down, but the latter got top position. Masvidal landed more punches, before getting a spinning kick and a takedown. Krause was able to reverse and get Masvidal’s back, but Masvidal got back to his fight and landed some more before the round ended. The crowd was super bored here, chanting for Conor McGregor. Krause was able to land jabs, but couldn’t do much else. In round three, Masvidal got a takedown and was able to hurt Krause with punches, bloodying Krause’s nose. Krause later had a hard time taking Masvidal down and had to eat more punches standing. The finish was more exciting than the earlier parts of the fight, but it was clear by that point who was going to win, anyway.
Dominick Cruz stopped Takeya Mizugaki at 1:01. Cruz looked totally fired up before the fight and came out fast. Mizagaki landed a right hand early on, but Cruz took him down and then pounded the hell out of him on the ground for the flash finish.
Cruz gave an articulate interview after the fight, saying he didn’t remember much about the match. He said he wanted to beat up on Team Alpha Fail, a reference to Bantamweight champ TJ Dillashaw and top contender Urijah Faber. He talked about how much it meant to him to come in and win after so much time away and going through so much to get back to fighting.
Pay Per View
Cat Zingano stopped Amanda Nunes at 1:21 of the third round. Nunes won the first round and Zingano won the second before finishing Nunes in the third. In the first round, Zingano had a difficult time defending against Nunes’ takedowns and was being pounded hard on the ground. Nunes came close at times to winning the fight via stoppage, which would have been an upset. At one point, though, Zingano did throw Nunes with a move that looked a lot like a Tiger Driver, which is a throw that Zingano has used in previous fights. In round two, Nunes came out and looked spent, having exerted all of her energy in the first round. Zingano got a takedown early and controlled most of the fight from the top position, even going for an ankle lock at one point. She also landed quite a few dangerous elbows in the round. In round three, Nunes tried for a takedown, but didn’t succeed. Zingano landed knees and hard elbows, bloodying Nunes before the fight was stopped.
In the post-fight interview, Cat said she wanted her match with Rousey. They showed Rousey sitting at ringside smiling. Dana has already stated that Zingano is next for Ronda Rousey, and with Gina Carano not coming into the UFC anytime soon, Zingano-Rousey could happen as early as the beginning of the new year. It’s an interesting fight, but not as marketable as Rousey-Carano or Rousey-Cyborg, plus I don’t think Zingano is quite at Rousey’s skill level anyway.
Yoel Romero stopped Tim Kennedy at 0:58 of the third round. This fight was controversial because Romero looked finished at the end of the second round, but took nearly an extra thirty seconds to come out for the third round. He then finished Kennedy with vicious punches. Romero won round one and Kennedy won round two. In the first round, Romero showed great kickboxing by landing a number of hard kicks to Kennedy’s legs and body. Kennedy’s nose ended up busted and was bleeding bad by the end of the round. In the second round, Kennedy came back with some nice uppercuts and a spinning back fist. Romero started bleeding after Kennedy landed uppercuts in the clinch. Kennedy had Romero backed against the fence with punches when the round ended, and might have finished him if there were just a few more seconds left. Romero was slow to come out for the third round. He was still sitting on his stool when he was suppose to be ready to fight, and then someone from the NSAC came in to wipe away excess vaseline that was put on his face. Some people have criticized John McCarthy for letting this go on, but I thought McCarthy did everything he could to get the fight going. Kennedy clearly thought it should be stopped. Romero came out with a punching combo that dropped Kennedy and then pounded Kennedy on the ground until the fight was stopped. Kennedy’s face was a mess. It was a fight that, while Kennedy, he didn’t look terrible in losing, as both fighters came out the fight as stronger names than when they went in.
The live crowd totally turned on Romero, even while in the post-fight interview Romero praised Jesus and the United States. Romero now has the second longest active winning streak in the UFC at five. Weidman is first at weight.
Conor McGregor stopped Dustin Poirier at 1:46. McGregor came off like the biggest rising star in the UFC here, with the crowd divided between Irish people who came to the show to cheer him and Americans who chanted “USA” during the bout. McGregor was throwing a lot of spinning high kicks, but Poirier was landing a few good lefts. McGregor dropped him with a punch, though, and then finished him with punches on the ground. Poirier thought the stoppage was premature, but he looked out. The crowd went pretty crazy for the finish.
McGregor did a promo putting over Ireland and said that he wanted a title shot against Jose Aldo. He said Dana should replace Chad “Mini” Mendes with him in the title fight next month. He said he doesn’t just knock guys out at featherweight, but he calls when it will happen. He said this was a new era of fighting and that the Muay Thai stance was stale. He also said that in Ireland, when one of us goes to war, we all go to war.
Donald Cerrone beat Eddie Alvarez via unanimous decision on straight scores of 29-28. I also had it 29-28, which was the obvious score. Alvarez won the first round and Cerrone won the last two. In commentary, Rogan and Goldberg pushed that Alvarez was the best fighter outside the UFC, and that even though he had some great wars in other promotions, he had never fought anyone the calibre of Cerrone. The implication is that the top guys in Bellator (or elsewhere) will consistantly have a tough time hanging with the top guys in UFC. It is a subtle way of burying UFC’s competition, even if it is generally true. In round one, Alvarez scored by landing punching combinations. Cerrone was letting Alvarez tie him up in the clinch, and at one point Alvarez landed a series of right uppercuts. In round two, Cerrone came back with hard low kicks and body kicks that damaged Alvarez’s mobility. Alvarez ended up with a big welt on his left leg that was more visible live than on television that made movement difficult for him for the rest of the fight. In round three, Cerrone followed up with more low kicks, body kicks, and knees to the head in the clinch. In the final minute of the fight, Alvarez collapsed under the pain of the leg kicks and instead of trying to finish him, Cerrone simply fell down on top of him and pounded him slowly until the fight ended.
In the post-fight interview, Cerrone said that he regretted starting slow, and that he was too tired to bother finishing Alvarez in the bout’s final minute, which is why he just kinda feel on top of Alvarez.
Demetrious Johnson submitted Chris Cariaso with a kimura at 2:29 of the second round to retain the Flyweight title. Johnson won the first round before submitting Cariaso with a kimura in the second round. Cariaso was completely outclassed by Johnson and was dominated by the much better fighter, which was what everyone expected going in. The live crowd was starting to leave already during this fight, making it out of the most anti-climactic UFC pay per view main events in recent history. In the first round, Johnson was able to use his speed to dodge Cariaso’s strikes before taking him down. Johnson was able to pass briefly to side mount, but Cariaso immediately got him back into half-guard. Cariaso was able to stand back up, but ate a couple of knees to the body along the way. Johnson had Cariaso pressed against the fence. Cariaso went for a takedown, but couldn’t get it, but was able to get away from the fence momentarily before Johnson put him back up against it. Cariaso landed a leg kick near the end of the round, but Johnson rocked him with a huge right hand to close the round. In round two, Johnson got a takedown and ended up in Cariaso’s guard, beore stepping over and getting side mount. Johnson pinned Cariaso down and pounded his face, and was able to quickly transition back and forth between side control and Cariaso’s half-guard. Johnson got a kimura and tapped Cariaso.
In the post-fight interview, Johnson thanked the Irish fans for coming out. Johnson thought he was too patient for his own good. Rogan asked him who he wanted to face next and Johnson gave the standard answer that it is not up to him.