What a night UFC 178: "Johnson vs. Cariaso" turned out to be.
The highly anticipated pay-per-view (PPV) event completely changed the landscape of mixed martial arts (MMA) as three fighters earned title shots, the flyweight champion defended his belt, and a "Cowboy" beat up a former Bellator champion.
In the main event, Demetrious Johnson obliterated Chris Cariaso, submitting the No. 8 ranked flyweight in the second round with a highlight-reel kimura. The victory was Johnson's seventh in a row, his fifth UFC title defense, and his third finish in his last four bouts.
Before all the action unfolded inside the Octagon, there were promotional appearances to generate awareness for -- and interest in -- the year's most anticipated PPV. Fighters said this and that, answering questions galore as the hoopla surrounding the event grew ever larger.
MMAmania.com does a pretty good job of passing along all the noteworthy pre- and post-fight comments for each event. But, as we've done before, let us look at the words that left the fighters' mouths before they stepped into the cage on Saturday night.
"I don't like the guy -- I don't like him as a person. I think he talks a big game, like he wants to fight, and that he wants to be in a dog fight. He talks like he's that kind of person. But if you watch his footage I don't think he is. He's knocked guys out, but he's more of a point-fighter. He wants to throw stuff and look pretty and be unorthodox and circle. He doesn't want to fight. So I'm going to bring the fight to him. I'm going to stay in his face. I have ultimate confidence in my skills on the feet and on the ground, so I feel like I can finish him anywhere it goes. I'm just going to get in there and be the bully."
-- Sorry Dustin Poirier, but it is painfully evident that Conor McGregor is not a "point fighter" by any means. Poirier certainly called it on the nose when noting that "Notorious" throws flashy strikes, but unfortunately for him, the Louisiana native was on the receiving end of those strikes, as he was knocked out in just 1:46 seconds (highlights here).
Also important to note, "Diamond" was far from the bully on Saturday night, and instead was just another impressive notch in McGregor's belt as he makes his climb to the UFC featherweight title.
"I really don't think I could have chosen anybody better for my first fight. He's the perfect guy, a guy who likes to take risks. You know, decisions are wrong and they're ruining the sport. Nobody wants decisions as judges are having more and more trouble fairly judging fights without getting it wrong. So I try to never go to the judges -- ever. I've got 21 finishes out of 25 victories, and this fight won't be any different."
-- Well, we can't say Eddie Alvarez didn't attempt to stop Donald Cerrone early in round one (highlights here), but in the end, he failed in his quest to get the finish, falling to "Cowboy" via unanimous decision after a three-round war.
Alvarez could have chosen a wealth of UFC lightweights that would have been a better debut, knowing how dangerous a fighter Cerrone is, but there is no question that it was his best opportunity to get a title shot. Back to the drawing board, I suppose.
"I'm gunning for the title. If you're in this sport and you're not gunning for the title, you're in the wrong sport. But I'm just taking one step in front of the other and I'm not skipping any steps. When you start to skip steps, you start looking past people. I'm still the best bantamweight in the world in my mind."
Dominick Cruz certainly looked like the old "Dominator" last Sat. night in taking out the notoriously durable Takeya Mizugaki in just 61 seconds via technical knockout (full fight here). In fact, Cruz looked better than his old self, notching his first UFC finish, and his first true finish since 2008.
It sure looks like Cruz is still among the best bantamweights in the world. The best? Well that is to be determined once Cruz steps into the Octagon against the champion, TJ Dillashaw.
"The last contest he had, he fought a TUF reject and nobody gives a shit about him. His chin is deteriorating. Every single contest he gets into, he gets hit, and he gets to one knee. A gust of wind hits him, and he does the chicken dance. Against me, I'm going to crack him with a jab and he's going to wobble and I'm going to put him away. It's going to be a first-round KO, mark my words."
Conor McGregor might talk a big game, but boy, does he back it up. Everything the Irishman has said since he has come to the UFC has come to fruition, including his prediction of a first-round knockout over his "biggest test" in Dustin Poirier at UFC 178.
Whether McGregor is clairvoyant or just a damn good fighter is irrelevant, the man is an absolute stud and should be fighting for the UFC title next.
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.