Cormier out­points Gustafs­son in split de­ci­sion to de­fend his ti­tle


Daniel Cormier out­pointed Alexan­der Gustafs­son in a split de­ci­sion Satur­day night at UFC 192 to re­tain the light heavy­weight cham­pi­onship.

Two judges gave the fight to Cormier (17-1) with 49-46 and 48-47 scores, and the third had it 48-47 for Gustafs­son (16-4).

It was Cormier’s first ti­tle de­fense. He sees this fight as one that helped him grow.

“These are the ones you dream about when you start do­ing this,” he said. “You don’t dream about them as you want to be in­volved. You want to be in­volved and you want to win it. I was tired in the fifth round but I just kept punch­ing and punch­ing and punch­ing.”

Cormier’s wrestling skill paid off im­me­di­ately with a first-round take­down when he lifted and flipped the chal­lenger to the ground.

How­ever, Cormier was cut above the right eye in the sec­ond round and Gustafs­son re­sponded with two rare take­downs on the cham­pion. The take­downs had lit­tle im­pact and Cormier stayed on the of­fen­sive.

The swing was in the third round. Af­ter Cormier’s up­per­cut blood­ied Gustafs­son’s nose, Gustafs­son hit Cormier in the chin with a knee and the cham­pion wob­bled to the ground, although he quickly popped back up.

“I thought I was win­ning the round pretty hand­edly and then he kneed me in the face,” Cormier said. “I can take a shot, but it’s the fol­lowup shots that get you. This guy ac­tu­ally got one off and as I was try­ing to get away, I kind of fell down.”

Cormier stayed ag­gres­sive in the fourth and fifth rounds, not re­ly­ing on his wrestling skill but land­ing power strikes and keep­ing Gustafs­son on de­fense.

Up next for the cham­pion, there is al­ready talk of a re­match against Jon Jones once he’s clear.

Cormier lost his first shot at the light heavy­weight ti­tle to Jones at UFC 182. Jones was stripped of the belt fol­low­ing felony charges from an April traf­fic ac­ci­dent and Cormier won the va­cant cham­pi­onship against An­thony John­son at UFC 187.

Cormier is all for a re­match, but not in Jones’ home state of New York.

“At the end of the day when Jones gets re­in­stated, New York is prob­a­bly the only place that he’ll be wel­comed with­out ven­omous anger,” he said. “This is where he’s from, so they will ac­tu­ally care for him. Cheer for him.

“Why should I al­low this guy to go and fight where he’s com­fort­able?”

On the un­der­card, Ryan Bader unan­i­mously out­pointed Rashad Evans in a light heavy­weight bout. Evans (24-4-1) hadn’t fought since Nov. 16, 2013, be­cause of in­juries.

All three judges scored it 30-27. Bader was in con­trol for most of the fight. He did well lim­it­ing Evans’ ad­vances, while deal­ing out more than enough pun­ish­ment on his own. Bader (21-4) is on a five-fight win­ning streak.

Bader wants a ti­tle shot, even though he ex­pects Jones to re-en­ter the light heavy­weight scene. But knock­ing of Evans was spe­cial.

“I’ve been want­ing to fight him for­ever,” Bader said. “He’s a leg­end in the sport and for me to go out there and beat that guy and keep my head down, just keep do­ing that. There’s noth­ing else I can do right now. There’s too many vari­ables out there.”

Rus­lan Magome­dov (14-1) unan­i­mously out­pointed Shawn Jor­dan (18-7) in a heavy­weight bout.

The co-main event was sup­posed to be a wel­ter­weight bout be­tween Johny Hen­dricks and Ty­ron Wood­ley. But the fight was called off af­ter Hen­dricks failed to make weight Fri­day.

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