UFC 178 was the year's most anticipated pay-per-view (PPV) event and boy, did it deliver last night (Sat., Sept. 27, 2014). 11 action packed fights highlighted a sensational night from inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
In the main event, Demetrious Johnson won his seventh straight fight and defended his UFC flyweight title for the fifth time by utterly dominating Chris Cariaso. While the result was expected, Johnson looked sensational tonight in notching his third finish in his last four fights (replay).
In the co-main event, Donald Cerrone welcomed former Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez to the UFC with a barnburner of a fight. In the end, "Cowboy" chopped down Alvarez with violent leg kicks en route to a unanimous decision victory (highlights).
Also featured on the PPV main card was the featherweight showdown between Conor McGregor and No. 5 ranked Dustin Poirier. "Notorious" backed up his trash talk by starching "Diamond" en route to a technical knockout finish in the first round.
See the video highlights here.
A middleweight tilt between Yoel Romero and Tim Kennedy was shrouded in controversy, but Romero did leave the cage with the technical knockout win in the third round. In addition, Cat Zingano returned in the opening bout of the PPV, and rewarded her fans with a highlight reel comeback victory over Amanda Nunes.
Here are your biggest winners, as well as the runners-up, from "Sin City."
Biggest Winner: Dominick Cruz
Well, this one is obvious.
After a three year layoff, two ACL injuries, one torn groin, and a relinquished UFC title later, Dominick Cruz returned to the Octagon last night with an incredible focus and determination to prove he is still the No. 1 bantamweight in the world.
In just 61 seconds of action, "The Dominator" proved to everyone that he is not only back and hungry for his belt, but he is better than ever before. Cruz absolutely pummeled Takeya Mizugaki, who was coming into their bout on a five fight winning streak, and let out three years of pent up frustration and anger on the No. 5 ranked bantamweight.
Watch the video replay here.
The win will undoubtedly garner Cruz the next shot at UFC bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw. With millions of eyes watching his finish on FOX Sports 1 (FS1), there is no doubt that a Cruz vs. DIllashaw PPV could potentially do big numbers.
Cruz never actually lost his belt in the Octagon, and there is absolutely no reason they should not book that title fight. Both men have incredible footwork, agility, speed, and would most definitely put on a hell of a show.
Runners-up: Conor McGregor
The Irishman is a superstar, ladies and gents.
Conor McGregor has talked the talk, and now he has walked the walk. Dustin Poirier was supposed to be his test. Poirier was supposed to be the toughest fight of his life. Poirier was left in an unconscious heap in just under two minutes.
McGregor's victory is not only impressive in terms of the actual fight, but the amount of pressure he had coming into this contest was immeasurable. An entire country rides the coattails of Conor McGregor, and he is ready to take them to the top of the UFC's featherweight division.
Will McGregor fight for the title next? Well he thinks he will, and he has forced us to believe that what he says will come to fruition. Does he deserve it? Maybe not in terms of UFC victories, but he clearly has taken the path directly to the top of the featherweight ladder. You can bet the dollar signs outweigh the wins of other top featherweights, too.
You can bet McGregor will be fighting for the title in 2015.
Cat Zingano is a warrior.
What else can you say about the world's most badass mom? Not only is Zingano a warrior inside the cage, as she survived a hellish onslaught from Amanda Nunes in round one, but Zingano is a warrior from her recent life experiences.
This last year of pain and heartbreak led up to tonight's incredible come-from-behind victory over Nunes. Zingano watched as her knee injury derailed her TUF coaching opportunity and her title shot against Ronda Rousey. She was then dealt with the terrible and unfortunate death of her husband while she was rehabbing to make her UFC return.
To return to the Octagon at all, after all the adversity she faced, is impressive nonetheless. To comeback from a near knockout loss, and dominate "Lioness" en route to a technical knockout win in the third round? That was something truly special.
With the victory, Zingano secured her shot against Ronda Rousey (again), and you can bet to see those two joining a major PPV in 2015.
Biggest Loser: Tim Kennedy
Tim Kennedy had a tough task in front of him tonight with the dynamic Yoel Romero.
While Romero's speed proved to be Kennedy's Achilles heel, the Army veteran proved how tough he truly is by battling back after a very poor first round. In the second, Kennedy's offense caught fire as he was able to stagger the exhausted Romero. If Kennedy was given 15 more seconds in round two, he would have finished Romero. Instead, the bell saved the former Olympian, as he lived to fight on to round three.
Romero was obviously very hurt in between rounds, and when it was time to get up for round three, he did not answer the bell. Whether it was his corner's fault or not, Romero was not ready to fight when referee John McCarthy told him to, and the fight could have been stopped right there.
Unfortunately for Kennedy, the fight was not stopped, and Romero finished him just one minute into the third round.
After the fight, Kennedy said, "If you can’t get off the stool in a minute the fight is over. Not a minute and a half, not two minutes, not two and a half minutes while your coaches are still putting Vaseline on you and toweling you off. That fight should’ve been over, period."
Runners-up: Eddie Alvarez
The former Bellator champion fought valiantly tonight, but a loss is still a loss, and this one hurts deep. After waiting years to finally get his chance inside the Octagon, Alvarez was unable to get by the ever-tough Donald Cerrone as "Cowboy" utilized brutal leg kicks to slow Alvarez down throughout the evening.
Alvarez had a chance to beat a top-five guy, but faltered late. It was not the worst loss in the world, but he will now have to win several fights in a row to get to a UFC title shot. Had he beat Cerrone tonight, he would likely be fighting for the 155-pound title next.
Well, needless to say, things did not go as planned for Dustin Poirier tonight. Maybe he was too angry at McGregor, maybe he was too nervous, or maybe the Irishman is that good.
Either way, Poirier was not the test that fans and pundits expected him to be against McGregor, and this loss will put him in the back of the line for a featherweight title shot. Poirier has now lost to McGregor, Swanson, and Chan Sung Jung, proving he has issues against the top contenders in the division.
Something needs to change for "Diamond" if he ever hopes to get another crack at the upper echelon of the division, but tonight's loss definitely puts him back.
That's a wrap.
For more results and fallout from UFC 178 including play-by-play, videos, reactions, recaps, and more, check out our "Johnson vs. Cariaso" live story stream right here.