Daniel Cormier (21-1) will defend his UFC heavyweight title on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden against challenger Derrick Lewis (21-5). Cormier and Lewis are taking the fight on short notice, with Cormier risking a potential megafight against Brock Lesnar or Jon Jones. Get round-by-round, fight-by-fight updates here with the Los Angeles Times. The co-feature is a middleweight bout between former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman (14-3) and former Strikeforce champion Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza (25-6). Other top fights include No. 7 David Branch (21-4) vs. Jared Cannonier (10-4), middleweights; Karl Roberson (6-1) vs. Jack Marshman (22-7), middleweights; No. 9 Israel Adesanya (14-0) vs. No. 6 Derek Brunson (18-6), middleweights.
UFC heavyweight title: Daniel Cormier vs. Derrick Lewis live round-by-round coverage
The eccentric and humorous knockout slugger Derrick Lewis picked up his ninth win in ten bouts in a come-from-behind performance against Alexander Volkov, earning him a title shot this month on a card that needed a main event. He takes on Daniel Cormier, the two division champion who knocked out Stipe Miocic to capture the UFC heavyweight title. Cormier plans to retire around his 40th birthday next year so it is imperative he win in order to get a fight with Brock Lesnar or a rematch with Jon Jones next year.
Round 1. Cormier grabs a single leg and takes Lewis to the mat. Cormier isn’t able to do much damage and Lewis stands back up. Cormier then takes Lewis back down. Lewis tries to stand up again and eats some more punches in the process. 10-9 Cormier.
Round 2. Lewis connects with a few hard punches as Cormier is moving in. Cormier finally catches Lewis and slams him down. Lewis gets up quickly. Cormier takes him back down and locks in a rear naked choke for the submission.
Winner: Daniel Cormier, submission, round 2.
Daniel Cormier has over time relied more on his striking but he remains one of the best wrestlers to enter into MMA and he demonstrated it there. Lewis had no answers for Cormier’s ground game and Cormier is now in position for a megafight next time out.
Chris Weidman vs. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza live round-by-round coverage
Chris Weidman is one of the most accomplished middleweight fighters in the sport’s history. The former UFC middleweight champion ended the historic run of Anderson Silva and is looking to recapture that gold. He was originally scheduled to take on Luke Rockhold, who defeated him for that title. An injury forced Rockhold to pull out so now Weidman will take another of the world’s elite middleweights in Jacare Souza. Souza is a jiu jitsu master who over time has added excellent striking as well and he is looking for his shot at the UFC middleweight title. This is one of the top middleweight bouts of the year.
Round 1. Weidman connects with a jab early. Weidman briefly has a Thai plum and lands a knee before Souza backs away. Weidman knocks Souza back with a right hand at the end of a combination. Weidman doesn’t pursue all that aggressively, a measure of his respect for Souza. Souza is throwing low kicks regularly but not many higher kicks. Weidman is more active with his boxing and is generally getting off first. Souza lands a couple of stiff punches to the body and follows with a punch to the head that appears to stagger Weidman a little. Good, competitive round. 10-9 Weidman.
Round 2. Weidman lands a strong two punch combination early. Souza continues to mix in low strikes but Weidman is attacking the head much more. Souza decides to really pursue a minute or so in and he opens up with power punches from close range. Weidman is firing back but Souza is generally landing the better shots and it feels like Souza could be one big blow away from having Weidman in trouble. Weidman answers back and hurts Souza with some punches. Souza attacks with some uppercuts that land solidly. Weidman gets Souza down briefly. Souza nearly reverses and gets top position and they end up back on their feet. 10-9 Souza.
Round 3. Both men come out swinging in the third, attacking at different levels. This has been an excellent bout. Weidman is pawing at Souza with his jab and preventing Souza from getting going by just continuously pushing the pace. Souza drops Weidman with a right hand. Weidman is in deep trouble and eventually the fight is stopped.
Winner: Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, TKO, round 3.
It’s been a long pursuit for Souza looking for that elusive UFC middleweight title shot and he may finally get it after that win. It was an excellent fight and a highlight reel finish over a big name opponent who was competing very well. For Weidman, it’s surely a very disappointing setback near his hometown in a fight he might have been on his way to winning.
David Branch vs. Jared Cannonier live round-by-round coverage
David Branch is a former two division WSOF champion and has won 12 of his last 13 bouts. He was originally going to take on Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza on this card in a fight that would have provided a much greater opportunity to elevate his stock. Jared Cannonier has lost three of his last four bouts and has the chance to turn things around against a top middleweight contender.
Round 1. Branch gets a quick takedown. Cannonier gets back up. Branch gets another takedown but Cannonier again quickly gets up. Cannonier lands a hard knee to the body in the clinch and Branch backs off. Branch gets another takedown and lands some punches while Cannonier tries to get up. Cannonier finally returns to his feet. Branch gets another takedown but Cannonier pops right back up. Cannonier opens up and lands a wild spinning kick late. 10-9 Branch.
Round 2. Cannonier drops Branch with a right hand and follows with additional punches on the ground until the fight is stopped.
Winner: Jared Cannonier, TKO, round 2.
That was quite the turnaround for Cannonier, who struggled early before scoring the sudden come-from-behind win. For Branch, it’s a serious setback for his standing in the division.
Karl Roberson vs. Jack Marshman live round-by-round coverage
In victory or defeat, Karl Roberson’s fights don’t tend to last long. The former kickboxer is 6-1 in professional MMA and has the biggest opportunity of his career here. Jack Marshman is a Welsh fighter with a 2-2 UFC record.
Round 1. Roberson throws a big head kick early. Roberson then clinches. Marshman blocks a takedown so Roberson lands an uppercut and backs off. Roberson follows with a heavy straight left hand. Roberson connects with a quality combination of punches and attacks aggressively seeming to think he might get a finish, but Marshman fires back and Roberson has to back off. Marshman pulls off his best combination of the fight late in the round. 10-9 Roberson.
Round 2. Marshman comes out strong with a few attacks to the body. Roberson lands an emphatic takedown halfway through the round. Roberson works his way into side control and is active with his offense as the round progresses. 10-9 Roberson.
Round 3. Roberson lands a big punch early in the round. Roberson lands another big left hand moments later. Roberson then lands a third a little while later. Roberson sure seems to have a lot of power but Marshman is able to take them well. Roberson gets a takedown and has side control by the cage. Roberson takes full mount. 10-9 Roberson, 30-27 Roberson.
Winner: Karl Roberson, unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-27).
Karl Roberson controlled the fight standing and on the ground. Despite a leg injury, he kept coming and secured the clear decision win.
Israel Adesanya vs. Derek Brunson live round-by-round coverage
With a dynamic fighting style and outspoken personality, Israel Adesanya has all the makings of a star. The key will be whether he can continue to perform at a high level while moving up in competition. Derek Brunson is the toughest test yet for the undefeated Adesanya. Brunson is a talented contender who has fought many of the best fighters in the division and will provide some answers as to how good Adesanya is.
Round 1. Brunson shoots for a takedown. He doesn’t immediately get it but he does instigate a clinch that they work from. Brunson is warned for grabbing Adesanya’s shorts and Adesanya gives Brunson the finger in response. Brunson shoots again for a takedown. It is blocked but when Adesanya looks to fire back Brunson clinches again. Brunson lands a punch and goes back to the takedown attempt. Adesanya prevents that. Adesanya blocks another takedown and they end up back in the clinch. Adesanya lands a heavy knee and follows with vicious punches. He drops Brunson with a head kick. Adesaya lands additional knees and drops him again with punches. The fight is stopped.
Winner: Israel Adesanya, TKO, round 1.
Israel Adesanya showed some of the levels to his game there. He was able to consistently stop the takedown attempts of an experienced wrestler and he capitalized on small openings to deliver powerful, efficient attacks. Adesanya is one of the most exciting young talents in the sport.
Jason Knight vs. Jordan Rinaldi live round-by-round coverage
Jason Knight had a lot of buzz not so long ago thanks to a crowd pleasing style and four fight UFC win streak. Now coming off three straight losses, Knight is looking to restore that previous reputation. Jordan Rinaldi is a submission fighter with a 1-2 record in the UFC.
Round 1. Knight blocks a takedown and lands a hard punch. Rinaldi answers with a left hook of his own that connects right on the chin. Rinaldi gets a takedown a minute in. Rinaldi gets side control but then loses it. Knight briefly gets up but then gets taken back down. Rinaldi lands punches from the top while Knight looks to work his guard. 10-9 Rinaldi.
Round 2. Rinaldi gets an early takedown and looks to set up a kimura. Knight avoids that but Rinaldi takes Knight’s back in the process. Rinaldi works for the rear naked choke while Knight has to concentrate on defending. He continued to attack the neck but cannot get the submission. 10-8 Rinaldi.
Round 3. Rinaldi again attacks with a kimura and transitions to take Knight’s back when Rinaldi can’t get the kimura. Knight ends up back in a terrible position, forced simply to defend the choke. Rinaldi has a neck crank for a brief period but cannot get the submission. Knight stands up and tries to throw Rinaldi off but Rinaldi retains control. 10-8 Rinaldi, 30-25 Rinaldi.
Winner: Jordan Rinaldi, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-25, 30-26).
Jordan Rinaldi’s grappling was too much for Jason Knight. Rinaldi controlled the fight pretty much from beginning to end.
Sijara Eubanks vs. Roxanne Modafferi live round-by-round coverage
Sijara Eubanks has had a tumultuous UFC career. She went on the Ultimate Fighter for a shot to become the first UFC women’s flyweight champion and made it to the final only to be pulled from the title fight because of health complications while trying to make weight. She was briefly put into the main event of this card against Valentina Shevchenko but that fight was scrapped when UFC made Daniel Cormier vs. Derrick Lewis instead. She then missed weight for this bout. Roxanne Modafferi is a popular fighter known for her quirky personality.
Round 1. Eubanks clearly has more power in her punches on the feet. Eubanks gets the takedown two minutes in. Modafferi looks to stand up with a minute left but Eubanks takes her right back down. Eubanks continues to control Modafferi and land occasional punches until the end of the round. 10-9 Eubanks.
Round 2. Eubanks drops Modafferi with a pair of punches and follows Modafferi to the ground. Modafferi looks to threaten with a submission but doesn’t come close. Eubanks lets her back to her feet. Modafferi looks for a takedown. Eubanks lands a hard knee to the body. Modafferi gets the takedown and has control. Eubanks looks to sweep with a kimura but Modafferi is able to retain top position. 10-9 Eubanks.
Round 3. Modafferi comes out throwing. She has success with her strikes because her hands look quicker at this time than Eubanks’ more labored blows. Still, Eubanks continues to land with more impact. Eubanks gets a takedown at the midpoint of the round. Eubanks lands punches from the top while Modafferi looks to reverse. Modafferi gets up at the close. 10-9 Eubanks, 30-27 Eubanks.
Winner: Sijara Eubanks, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
Sijara Eubanks was the better fighter than Roxanne Modafferi. Given Eubanks’ repeated struggles with weight cutting, she might be better off just moving to bantamweight.
Julio Arce vs. Sheymon Moraes live round-by-round coverage
Julio Arce has an impressive 14-2 MMA record and has won twice since earning a UFC slot on Dana White’s Contender Series. He fights out of the New York metro area. Sheymon Moraes is 9-2 but his only losses are to elite competitors: Zabit Magomedsharipov and Marlon Moraes.
Round 1. The fighters are cautious early but Moraes then drops Arce with a punch. Moraes goes to town on the ground, landing punch after punch from high up while trying to finish the fight. Arce is able to survive and return to his feet. They end up in a clinch where Arce looks to secure a takedown. Arce isn’t able to get the takedown so he instead hops on Moraes’ back and looks to lock in a rear naked choke from the standing position. Arce is squeezing late but time runs out. That’s a tricky round to score. Arce had control longer and was threatening at the end, but Moraes did the most damage by a wide margin early in the round and scored the best offense. 10-9 Moraes.
Round 2. Moraes lands a hard right hand and looks to capitalize. Arce counters and tries for a takedown but can’t get it. They end up in the clinch where Moraes is more on the offensive. Arce is bleeding badly and eats a few heavy punches. Moraes drops Arce late and again starts throwing heavy blows from top position. Moraes lets Arce back up. 10-9 Moraes.
Round 3. Arce is bleeding down both his front and back at this point from injuries sustained in the second round. He has lost a tremendous amount of blood. The action in the third has been extremely competitive with both men moving well and attacking from different angles. Arce lands a nice looping punch and then another a little while later. 10-9 Arce, 29-28 Moraes.
Winner: Sheymon Moraes, split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-26).
That was another exciting fight, most notable for the amount of blood involved. Moraes deserved the decision as he was more successful offensively but Arce never stopped coming.
Ben Saunders vs. Lyman Good live round-by-round coverage
Ben Saunders is one of the longest tenured UFC fighters, having competed in the organization since 2007. Lyman Good is a former Bellator champion and is 1-1 in the UFC.
Round 1. Saunders has success early with some kicks. Good comes in with power punches. They end up in a clinch with Saunders attacking with knees and Good with punches. Good drops Saunders with uppercuts, knocking Saunders unconscious in the process.
Winner: Lyman Good, KO, round 1.
Lyman Good was the significant favorite and he showed why there. He was able to generate a lot of power from short distance and put Saunders away in quick order.
Matt Frevola vs. Lando Vannata live round-by-round coverage
Matt Frevola earned a spot on the UFC roster with a win on Dana White’s Contender Series, but he was promptly knocked out in a minute in his UFC debut by Marco Polo Reyes. He looks to rebound here. Lando Vannata impressed in his UFC debut, giving top lightweight Tony Ferguson all Ferguson could handle. However, Vannata has struggled since then and is 0-2-1 in his last three fights.
Round 1. Both fighters come out aggressively. Frevola lands a few head kicks. However, Vannata then connects with a massive head kick of his own. Frevola recovers and lands a hard kick to the body. Frevola nails Vannata with a stiff straight punch and continues to attack with high kicks. Frevola knocks Vannata back with a straight right hand. Vannata briefly teases a takedown but then separates and throws a head kick. Frevola uses a strong elbow from distance. Frevola cracks Vannata with a big two punch combination late. Vannata goes for a takedown but Frevola reverses and grabs a guillotine choke. Frevola loses that but ends up in mount. That was a very exciting round. 10-9 Frevola.
Round 2. Vannata drops Frevola with a vicious right hand. Frevola gets up and tries to answer back but Vannata is walking him down and looking for the finish. Frevola is able to recover again, just like he did from the first round head kick. They continue to keep a fast pace with their boxing. Frevola looks for a late takedown but Vannata grabs a guillotine choke as the round comes to an end. 10-9 Vannata.
Round 3. Frevola has success with a few looping punches early. Vannata continues to move forward as in the first two rounds but he isn’t throwing as much which is allowing Frevola to dictate the exchanges. Both men have slowed down, understandable given the pace in the first two rounds. Frevola gets a takedown but he can’t keep Vannata down as Vannata scrambles back to his feet. Frevola lands a nice late combination. 10-9 Frevola, 29-28 Frevola.
Result: Majority Draw (29-28 Frevola, 28-28, 28-28).
That result means that two of the three judges gave the second round to Vannata 10-8, an understandable score. It was a terrific fight where both fighters demonstrated their skill and mettle.
Shane Burgos vs. Kurt Holobaugh live round-by-round coverage
Shane Burgos is a New Yorker who has shown some promise in his relatively young career. He won his first three UFC fights, all in New York, to improve to 10-0. He then fought in Boston and lost for the first time. He now returns to New York looking to rebound. Kurt Holobaugh is a UFC, Strikeforce and Titan FC veteran who lost last time out in his return to the UFC via knockout.
Round 1. Holobaugh is having success with his striking early. He lands some crisp combinations that back Burgos up and do some real damage. Holobaugh drops Burgos with a punch and follows to the ground looking for the finish. As Holobaugh is landing punches, Burgos traps an arm and locks in an armbar for the submission.
Winner: Shane Burgos, submission, round 1.
Burgos’ success in New York continues. Holobaugh was doing really well but he got caught when he was a little too aggressive. Burgos demonstrated great composure in pulling off the sudden submission.
Adam Wieczorek vs. Marcos Rogerio De Lima live round-by-round coverage
Adam Wieczorek is a Polish grappler with two UFC wins to his credit and a 10-1 MMA record. Marcos Rogerio De Lima is more of a striker and is 4-3 thus far in the UFC.
Round 1. Wieczorek scores a takedown 45 seconds into the fight. Wieczorek looks to get into side position but De Lima powers out and then takes Wieczorek down. With the position in hand, De Lima is conservative. He lands occasional punches on the ground and is content to control Wieczorek for the remainder of the round. 10-9 De Lima.
Round 2. De Lima pushes forward. He throws some leg kicks that land well. The fighters end up in a clinch where action slows. After separation, De Lima lands a quality two punch combination and they end up back in the clinch. Wieczorek backs away from De Lima late and appears quite tired. 10-9 De Lima.
Round 3. The fighters clinch again. De Lima takes Wieczorek down and has side control position. De Lima transitions into mount but Wieczorek quickly postures up and returns to the feet. Back on the feet, Wieczorek goes down as De Lima is throwing a punch and De Lima ends up back on top. Wieczorek lands some elbows from the bottom and gets back up. De Lima gets another late takedown. 10-9 De Lima, 30-27 De Lima.
Winner: Marcos Rogerio De Lima, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
That was an inauspicious start to the evening.
Daniel Cormier conquers his goals despite a hurt hand and hefty itinerary
The excruciating pain that invaded Daniel Cormier’s right hand during the therapy treatments had eased slightly when the company called.
Cormier had injured his hand following his July knockout victory over Stipe Miocic to win the UFC heavyweight title.
Would the 39-year-old workhorse consider making his first defense with less than a month’s preparation, against the second-ranked challenger, Derrick Lewis, who’d won nine of his last 10 fights and knocked out 18 of 21 foes?
Cormier would have to set aside his duties as a UFC television analyst at Fox, and find a way to balance his training regimen with the duties he’d committed to as head coach of a Gilroy, Calif,. high school wrestling team ranked in the top 10 nationally.
Cormier, as he typically does when work overflows, flashed back to the influence of the man who raised him in Lafayette, La., his late father, Joseph.
Derrick Lewis has a bright future despite a troubled past
Derrick Lewis has hit the UFC equivalent of a trifecta.
In the last month, Lewis notched a last-second knockout against Russia’s Alexander Volkov to win a bout in which he was trailing on all three scorecards; was cleared to fight by the New York commission despite the punishment he received in that fight; and was named with Daniel Cormier to lead the pay-per-view card for Saturday night’s UFC 230 main event at Madison Square Garden.
Weighing in Friday at 264.6 pounds to Cormier’s 251.2, Lewis, 33, makes no secret of his intention to strike the champion with the type of disabling power punches that have helped him win nine of his past 10 fights and earn 18 knockouts.
Chuckling, he cracked that taking the belt would “be disrespectful to the sport, because I have no mixed martial arts background at all. To be heavyweight champion of the UFC after all these great legends have performed with their different histories and backgrounds, it’d be crazy.”
No more crazy than that contract Lewis flashed to reporters Thursday in revealing a new endorsement deal with Popeye’s Chicken that allows the big-bellied slugger to eat free for life at the fast-food chain. One stand in his hometown of Houston is promising free food from 2-4 p.m. Sunday should Lewis, a near-5/1 underdog, defeat Cormier (21-1), a 39-year-old former Olympic wrestler.
Lewis said his original motivation for pro fighting was to feed his family, which the Popeye’s deal clinches.
Sijara Eubanks is waiting for her big chance in UFC
Few people have the audacity to try to put UFC President Dana White in his place, but when the powerful, sometimes tyrannical leader decided to yank Sijara Eubanks off her scheduled Madison Square Garden main-event title fight, the fighter didn’t hold back.
“What the … is wrong with you? How are you doing this to me? This is my dream!” the 5-foot-4, 125-pound Eubanks roared at White during a telephone call last month. “You took my dream away from me!”
Eubanks, 33, was named by White on Oct. 2 as the UFC 230 main-event opponent versus former women’s bantamweight title challenger Valentina Shevchenko. The bout was to be for the vacant flyweight belt after the UFC was unable to strike a deal with former light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones for the main event.
Days later, after UFC hard-core fans led by analyst Joe Rogan, mercilessly ridiculed the choice of the then-anonymous Eubanks on a card typically stacked with talent, White moved to place heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier’s title defense against No. 2-ranked contender Derrick Lewis as the main event.
Shevchenko was promoted off the card to the UFC 231 co-main event on Dec. 8 in a far more attractive title bout against her former Muay Thai rival and former UFC straw-weight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
Those moves came despite the presence of a signed contract between Eubanks and the UFC.
“I did have a signed contract, but that’s a big fish to go after with a lawyer. I don’t have that much lawyer money, so that’s why I was like, ‘Let’s settle this on the phone, man.’ It wasn’t a very long talk; it was mostly me yelling,” she said.