UFC 192 Live Play by Play and Updates: Cormier vs. Gustafsson

UFC light-heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier lands a punch against challenger Alexander Gustafsson during their bout at UFC 192 in Houston on Saturday night.

UFC light-heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier lands a punch against challenger Alexander Gustafsson during their bout at UFC 192 in Houston on Saturday night.

(Juan DeLeon / Associated Press)

UFC 192 takes place Saturday night from Houston, Texas. The card is headlined by a UFC light heavyweight title fight between champion Daniel Cormier and challenger Alexander Gustafsson. The winner will likely have to deal with Jon Jones, the pound for pound king stripped of the title following a hit and run. In the co-main event, Rashad Evans fights for the first time since 2013 against Ryan Bader, winner of four straight.

In preliminary action, Derrick Lewis struggled early against Viktor Pesta but came back strong to score a third round TKO win. Sergio Pettis survived late peril against Chris Cariaso and picked up a unanimous decision victory. Finally, 19-year-old super prospect Sage Northcutt destroyed Francisco Trevino in 57 seconds with strikes.

Rose Namajunas vs. Angela Hill

The affable Namajunas burst onto the scene by making it to the finals of the Ultimate Fighter tournament to crown an inaugural UFC women’s strawweight champion. This is her first fight since her setback in that contest to Carla Esparza. Hill is a bit of a soft touch as an opponent, 1-1 in the UFC with a first round loss in the same tournament Namajunas excelled in.

Round 1. Namajunas comes out swinging with hooks. The fighters clinch and Hill looks for a takedown that is defended. Hill uses a nice knee and then separates. Hill is relying more on straight punches while Namajunas prefers looping shots. Namajunas ducks down quickly and scores a takedown. She lands in half guard position and then Hill gets full guard. Hill tries to stand up but in the process Namajunas takes her back and locks in a rear naked choke. Hill fights it from the standing position but the choke is locked in extremely tight and that’s a wrap.


Winner: Rose Namajunas, submission, round 1.

Hill fought well but made one big mistake and Namajunas capitalized nicely. Namajunas needed that sort of emphatic win to reestablish herself in a deepening division.

Adriano Martins vs. Islam Makhachev

Martins, a well rounded Brazilian veteran, is 3-1 thus far in the UFC against generally high quality opposition. Makhachev is a dangerous and undefeated Russian sambo world champion who won his UFC debut via submission. This is an excellent challenge for both men.

Round 1. Makhachev moves in swinging wildly with power punches. Martins is for the most part extremely successful avoiding those punches. He then floors Makhachev with a precise counterhook and the referee steps in.

Winner: Adriano Martins, TKO, round 1.

That was a phenomenal performance by Martins. He was dodging all the offense from an excellent undefeated fighter and then he just took him out with one clean shot. Martins is ready for some of the best fighters in his division.

Alan Jouban vs. Albert Tumenov

Jouban and Tumenov have similar profiles: each is 3-1 in the UFC and relies principally on knockout striking. Tumenov, the Russian, is a betting favorite.

Round 1. Jouban comes in but gets countered with a few clean straight punches that back him off. A confident Tumenov then starts to walk Jouban down, mixing crisp punches with leg kicks. Jouban is getting in the occasional counter of his own but Tumenov is getting the best of the early exchanges. Tumenov hurts Jouban with a head kick and swarms with punches. Jouban goes down and the referee stops the fight. Jouban protests and tries to show that he’s fine but he wobbles in the process.

Winner: Albert Tumenov, TKO, round 1.

That was another impressive finish on a night that’s quickly filling up with them. Jouban is a good striker in his own right but Tumenov was on a higher level and he made quick work of his opponent.

Yair Rodriguez vs. Daniel Hooker

Rodriguez won the featherweight Ultimate Fighter Latin America tournament and is being groomed to be a Mexican star as the UFC looks to break into that market. He has a 5-1 career record. Hooker is 2-1 in the UFC and coming off a head kick knockout of one time featherweight star Hatsu Hioki.

Round 1. After a series of fights that started off quickly, this one starts off slow. Neither man is throwing much and mostly just circling. Rodriguez throws the first big attempt of the fight with a leaping tornado kick. Hooker catches a kick and goes for a takedown. It is instead Rodriguez who gets the takedown and quickly moves into mount. Hooker gets out of that and returns to the feet. 10-9 Rodriguez.

Round 2. Rodriguez throws Hooker down briefly in the middle of an exchange. Rodriguez then cracks Hooker with a spinning elbow to the head, the best blow of the fight thus far. Hooker clinches and looks for a takedown. Hooker gets Rodriguez down against the cage but Rodriguez attacks the leg and then gets right back up. Rodriguez lands a head kick that is partially blocked on the feet. Rodriguez catches Hooker with a hook and then a head kick. He is controlling the standup as the fight progresses. Hooker comes in with a straight left hand and then a knee to the body in the clinch. He follows with another straight let hand, his best string of offense in the fight by far. Rodriguez gets a takedown at the close of the round. 10-9 Rodriguez.

Round 3. Hooker presses the action in the third, likely knowing he is behind. He is throwing mostly looping punches but few are landing. The fighters go to the ground, where Hooker takes top position. Rodriguez has Hooker’s leg trapped but isn’t able to do anything with it. Hooker is aggressive landing punches and elbows from the top. Hooker continues to land light punches but isn’t doing much damage. The fight is stood up with less than a minute remaining. Hooker is bleeding above both eyes. 10-9 Hooker, 29-28 Rodriguez. Easy fight to score.

Winner: Yair Rodriguez, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26).

Solid win for Rodriguez, albeit one that won’t gain him much traction on a night when most everyone has looked more impressive in victory. He did his best work early and was never in any trouble throughout.

Julianna Pena vs. Jessica Eye

Pena is considered a potential challenger for Ronda Rousey. She is strong with a very good ground game and won the Ultimate Fighter 18. There is also a natural story as Pena’s friend and mentor is Miesha Tate, known for her heated feud with Rousey. Eye is a personality with solid striking who needs a win here after losing 2 of her last 3 in the UFC.

Round 1. The fighters start out aggressively, throwing power punches from close range. Eye lands the better shot of the exchange. They clinch and Pena pulls guard. Eye stands back up, controlling Pena’s head with a front face lock. Eye throws a couple of knees and then releases Pena’s head. Pena throws a few knees to the body in the clinch. Pena gets a takedown. Eye tries to roll into top position but can’t do it, so she just stands up. Pena looks to take the fight back to the ground and lands a few knees to the body in the process. Pena uses a trip takedown and ends up in side control position on the ground. Pena then opens up with a few elbows to the head. When she lands they are hard but she isn’t landing that much. 10-9 Pena.

Round 2. Eye clinches and shoves Pena into the cage. Eye backs up and throws a couple punches. Eye gets a takedown and works from half guard position. Eye is attacking the body and it appears she’s looking to set up a kimura but it’s in the extremely early stages. Pena turns over but in the process Eye grabs an arm triangle choke and ends up back on top. Eye is looking to pull her leg out of Pena’s guard in order to apply more pressure to the hold. She can’t do it and has to give up the attempt. Pena looks to get up but Eye attacks again and looks for an armbar or choke. Eye doesn’t get it and Pena ends up on top. Eye throws a knee from the bottom to the head and the incompetent Texas official takes away a point from Eye for it. So that negates the entirety of the rest of the round. 9-9.

Round 3. Pena gets a takedown. She lands a few punches from the top and continues to work. Eye turns her back and Pena looks to sink in a rear naked choke. She cranks it but doesn’t have her hooks in and Eye is able to turn and roll out of serious danger. However, Pena retains top position and is in firm control with time running out on Eye. Pena grabs a one arm guillotine choke from the top and cranks it hard but Eye hangs on to the end. 10-9 Pena, 29-27 Pena.

Winner: Julianna Pena, unanimous decision (29-27, 29-27, 29-27).

Pena picked up a competitive win over a game opponent here, which is likely going to give her confidence as she moves up towards stiffer competition in the division. Pena may not be ready for the best of the best yet, but she has a lot of promise. A word on the point deduction. Referees have the discretion to deduct a point for a foul, which Eye’s knee clearly was. But they ought to have the basic common sense to recognize that in a sport where judges very rarely give 10-8s and there are only three rounds, that eliminating everything that happened for a third of the competition for a single infraction is beyond foolhardy.

Joseph Benavidez vs. Ali Bagautinov

Benavidez is one of the best pound for pound fighters in the world. Unfortunately, he ran into a dominant champion twice at 135 pounds in Dominick Cruz and then another dominant champion twice at 125 pounds in Demetrious Johnson. He is 22-0 outside his fights with Cruz and Benavidez. Bagautinov is a Russian sambo star who has done very well in the UFC thus far. He is coming off a loss to Demetrious Johnson in a title fight and a drug test failure for EPO.

Round 1. Benavidez lands a nice right hand early. Benavidez looks a little faster early and is avoiding Bagautinov’s heavy shots. Bagautinov lands a solid shot and opens up a big cut around the left eye of Benavidez. Close round. 10-9 Benavidez.

Round 2. Both men have good defense and are able to dodge a lot of the offense of the other. Benavidez connects with a couple of body kicks. Benavidez then cracks Bagautinov with a straight left hand. The fighters are moving a lot but there sure isn’t a lot in the way of offense. Benavidez teases a takedown but it is defended. Bagautinov grabs a leg and looks to land a few big punches but Benavidez escapes. 10-9 Benavidez.

Round 3. Bagautinov connects with a hard right hand early in the third. The crowd, which has been mostly silent throughout the fight, begins to boo as they circle around. Benavidez isn’t throwing as much as he did in the previous two rounds, perhaps sensing the advantage he has or perhaps a little cautious after feeling Bagautinov’s power a little early in the third. Bagautinov gets a takedown briefly late but Benavidez stands up, lands a few punches from the clinch, and backs off. 10-9 Bagautinov, 29-28 Benavidez.

Winner: Joseph Benavidez, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28).

The crowd boos the decision. That was another bad fight in a moribund flyweight division. Fans don’t care about the division. The talent depth isn’t there. Another 15 minutes of silence with occasional light booing and there just isn’t any interest in where things go from here.

Shawn Jordan vs. Ruslan Magomedov

Jordan is a hard hitting slugger who has either knocked out his opponent or been knocked out seven straight times in the UFC. He has won three in a row. Magomedov, by contrast, has a low finish rate and relies on his ground game often. He is 13-1 in MMA competition.

Round 1. They clinch and Jordan gets a takedown. Magomedov looks to stand back up while Jordan continues to control him against the cage. Magomedov controls Jordan’s left arm and looks for a kimura. He can’t get it and gives it up. Jordan misses with a lumbering right hand and gets countered by Magomedov with a few solid shots. Close round. 10-9 Jordan.

Round 2. Jordan hurts Magomedov with a couple of heavy punches by the cage. Magomedov clinches, regains his composure, and continues. Jordan shoots in and looks for a takedown. He eats a few elbows to the head in the process. He gives up the attempt. Magomedov lands a nice right hand and then knocks Jordan off balance with an inside leg kick. Bad round, could go either way again. 10-9 Magomedov.

Round 3. Jordan moves in and clinches. Magomedov lands some hard punches and separates. Jordan is bleeding badly from the face. Magomedov lands a nice head kick. He’s picking up the pace a little bit given his greater control but it remains a slow fight. Magomedov connects with another of his kicks. He is also firing more jabs as the fight goes on, exploiting Jordan’s decreased vision. That was the only clear round of the fight. 10-9 Magomedov.

Winner: Ruslan Magomedov, unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-27).

Magomedov may be able to win with that style, but it’s certainly not going to generate any fan interest in his fights.

Rashad Evans vs. Ryan Bader

Evans, a former UFC light heavyweight champion, rarely gets his due as one of the sport’s all time best 205 pound fighters. His win list includes the likes of Chuck Liddell, Quinton Jackson, Dan Henderson, Phil Davis, Chael Sonnen, Tito Ortiz, Michael Bisping and Forrest Griffin. Injuries have prevented him from fighting for nearly two years and he is now 36 years old. Bader is a very good wrestler and possesses knockout power but has never fully put it together as a fighter. With four straight wins, he is looking for a title shot, although many thought he shouldn’t have won his most recent fight, a split decision over Phil Davis.

Round 1. Bader lands an inside leg kick early. Bader is more active with his strikes early, throwing out a lot of punches while Evans just looks to get a feel for the range. Bader shoots in for a takedown but doesn’t come close. Two minutes in and Evans hasn’t done much at all. Evans starts throwing out jabs but he just isn’t active enough while Bader is consistently putting in work. Evans moves in with a few punches and then returns to the center. Bader keeps throwing out his jab. Evans lands a pair of punches and looks for a takedown but it is blocked without difficulty. 10-9 Bader.

Round 2. Both Evans and Bader are looking to establish their jab early. Bader gets a takedown relatively early. Evans gets up without taking much damage, but has to spend a lot of energy in the process. Evans swings with a big overhand right that misses. Evans then connects with it a little bit later, one of the best shots of the fight if not the best. Evans follows with a leg kick and he’s opening up. Bader answers with a few jabs. Evans follows with a few more power punches by the cage. Evans goes for a takedown late but doesn’t get it. 10-9 Evans.

Round 3. Bader goes back to his jab as a tool to slow Evans’ pressure. Bader uses a nice overhand right, a weapon both fighters like to employ. Bader moves in with an uppercut that connects well but Evans then answers with a straight right hand up the middle to the head. Evans clinches but eats an elbow and backs away. Bader uses a solid kick to the body. Evans lands a right hand and ducks down for a takedown. Bader has no problems defending it and lands a hard elbow upon separation. Bader lands a right hook late and blocks a left head kick. Bader gets a takedown, although Evans does stand back up. Evans lands a knee to the body at the close. 10-9 Bader, 29-28 Bader.

Winner: Ryan Bader, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).

That was a good win for Bader against one of his toughest opponents. It’s not the sort of win that is going to get people excited to see him challenge for the title, but it is the sort of win that will make it easy to justify his claim for that title shot. He’s in a solid position to get one after the return of Jon Jones.

UFC light heavyweight title: Daniel Cormier vs. Alexander Gustafsson

Cormier won the title in May by surviving the early power of Anthony Johnson and grinding out a submission win. Cormier is a world class wrestler who has added an excellent striking game as well and is a very hard worker. He has become a popular figure as an analyst while also occasionally playing the role of villain to sell fights. Gustafsson is a popular Swedish star who made his name by giving Jon Jones arguably the toughest fight of Jones’ career. He is coming off a knockout loss to Anthony Johnson.

Round 1. The fighters exchange leg kicks. Cormier presses Gustafsson against the cage and slams him to the mat. Cormier immediately gains side control position but Gustafsson works into half guard and then full guard. Cormier begins throwing punches from the top. He lands a few elbows. Gustafsson in general is doing a good job defending and preventing Cormier from doing damage. Cormier passes into side control but Gustafsson then squirms out and returns to his feet. Gustafsson lands a few nice low kicks and then mixes in a few kicks to the body. 10-9 Cormier.

Round 2. Gustafsson attempts to keep Cormier at bay with jabs. One snaps back Cormier’s head pretty well and there is a small cut near Cormier’s eye. Cormier presses in but Gustafsson backs away. Gustafsson then takes Cormier down, although Cormier gets back up. Gustafsson gets in a flurry of offense with some big strikes on Cormier. Cormier clinches and looks for a takedown but doesn’t come close. Cormier answers back with some uppercuts. Gustafsson then retaliates with a few uppercuts of his own. Both men are doing a lot of damage this round. Cormier lands a three punch combination solidly, particularly the last two. Cormier follows with a few more big punches. Gustafsson gets a takedown late but Cormier stands right back up. Tough round to score. 10-9 Gustafsson.

Round 3. Gustafsson lands a nice knee to the body. Cormier connects with a straight right hand up the middle. Gustafsson is cut above the nose. Gustafsson hits Cormier with a 1-2 punch combination. Cormier grabs a clinch and lands a series of uppercuts on Gustafsson. That has been a very effective weapon throughout the fight for Cormier. Gustafsson paws at Cormier with his jab. Cormier grabs the clinch and goes back to work with those uppercuts. Gustafsson is bleeding pretty badly but he hurts Cormier badly with a vicious knee to the head. Cormier goes down and Gustafsson looks to finish the fight on the ground. He lands some additional punches but Cormier survives and returns to his feet. This has been a heck of a fight. 10-9 Gustafsson.

Round 4. The crowd stands to applaud both competitors at the start of the round. Gustafsson lands a couple of kicks early. Gustafsson then adds some punches. Gustafsson’s face is in a lot worse shape superficially even though he has been getting the better of it this round. Cormier is pushing forward but he isn’t landing much at all at this point. Gustafsson isn’t landing a ton either but he is landing more. Gustafsson clinches and lands another knee. 10-9 Gustafsson.

Round 5. The fighters shake hands and Cormier pats Gustafsson on the cheek at the start of the round. Gustafsson works his jab and leg kicks and then backs Cormier up with a straight right hand. Gustafsson’s length and reach is playing a big role as the fight progresses, particularly since Cormier has abandoned his wrestling. Cormier continues to walk down Gustafsson and lands a few solid punches. Gustafsson goes for a takedown but has it blocked. Cormier clinches and throws some of those uppercuts. Cormier continues to work with his punches from the clinch. They are really battling for body control and working with their dirty boxing. Gustafsson lands another hard knee to the head. 10-9 Cormier, 48-47 Gustafsson.

Winner: Daniel Cormier, split decision (48-47, 47-48, 49-46).

Cormier thanks Gustafsson for pushing him so much and making him better in the process. Both men fought very hard and it was a close, competitive fight. Cormier against a returning Jon Jones will be a really big fight.