Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) kicked off 2015 with a bang last evening (Sat., Jan. 3, 2015), as the promotion put forth an outstanding UFC 182: "Jones vs Cormier" pay-per-view (PPV) event in Las Vegas, Nevada. After a historic night that won't soon be forgotten, fans will hope the excellent mixed martial arts (MMA) cards continue over the next 12 months.
In the main event of the evening, Jon Jones defended his UFC light heavyweight title for the eighth time, defeating his formerly undefeated bitter rival Daniel Cormier via unanimous decision in dominating fashion.
Check out the highlights here.
In the co-main event, Donald Cerrone put a beating on Myles Jury, handing the up-and-coming prospect his first career loss. With the victory, "Cowboy" picked up his sixth straight win inside the Octagon (more on that here).
With that quick recap of the night's marquee bouts, here are your biggest winners, as well as the runners-up from Las Vegas.
Biggest Winner: Jon Jones
The greatest of all time? You bet.
In my (humble) opinion, UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones proved once and for all at UFC 182 that he is the greatest fighter to ever step inside the Octagon. Jones once again put together a masterpiece of a performance, giving up merely one round to the formerly undefeated Daniel Cormier.
"Bones" has made a career of making exceptional, Hall of Fame caliber fighters look mediocre. While I won't say Jones made the former Olympian look middle-of-the-road, he certainly put a beating on "DC" last evening.
Not only did the champion dominate the fight, he played right into the hand of Cormier's strategy by clinching and staying in close for the majority of the fight. Once again, Jones beat an elite level fighter at their own game.
In his unbelievable UFC run, Jones has defeated arguably the most impressive slew of fighters in promotion history. His list of victims include Daniel Cormier, Alexander Gustafsson, Glover Teixeira, Rashad Evans, Rampage Jackson, Shogun Rua, Lyoto Machida, Vitor Belfort, Chael Sonnen, Ryan Bader, and more.
Embrace it fight fans, Jones is the greatest talent the sport has ever seen.
Runners-up: Donald Cerrone
It may not have been Cerrone's most exciting performance, but "Cowboy" put a hurting on the previously undefeated Myles Jury in the co-main event of UFC 182.
Winning his sixth straight UFC fight, Cerrone proved to be too much for "Fury" by dominating him on both the feet and on the mat. After nearly finishing Jury via rear-naked choke in the first round, Cerrone battered Jury for the next 10 minutes on the feet.
Cerrone continues to improve and his career turnaround since early 2014 has been nothing more than sensational. Could 2015 could be the year "Cowboy" fights for UFC gold? If so, a No. 1 contender fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov could be next.
Paul Felder sure knows how to pull off an upset in style.
Spoiling Danny Castillo's 20th career UFC bout, Felder dominated the Team Alpha Male product on the feet, utilizing a full array of muay thai techniques to stagger "Last Call" early and often. After about seven minutes of beautiful striking, "The Irish Dragon" pulled off a (very) early knockout of the year contender with a devastating spinning back fist.
Watch it again right here.
With the dominant victory capped off by the highlight reel finish, you can bet Felder put the 155-pound division on notice. Keep your eye out for "The Irish Dragon" as he could be making moves up the lightweight ladder in 2015.
Biggest Loser: Myles Jury
Myles Jury simply did not come to fight, or at least that is what Donald Cerrone said after the fact.
From my perspective, Jury was extremely tentative after the first round that nearly saw him get submitted following an early takedown. Once his initial strategy backfired badly in round one, it seemed Jury was unable to get off on the feet in the following two rounds.
Instead, Jury backpedaled for most of the fight as Cerrone landed a bevy of shots on the previously undefeated lightweight contender.
While the loss certainly hurts his chances for a title run in 2015, it will be very interesting to see how Jury responds from his first official defeat. Will he overcome and prove to be better than ever, or is this the beginning of a major fall?
Lets hope it is the former, and not the latter.
Runners-up: Daniel Cormier
It was by default that "DC" landed in the losers section of UFC 182, and no matter his gritty performance, his unanimous decision loss to Jon Jones is crippling for his MMA career prospects.
The 35 (soon to be 36)-year-old Cormier is not getting any younger, so it would be hard to believe the former Olympic wrestler will earn another UFC title shot as long as Jones is the light heavyweight champion.
The loss was yet another defeat for "DC" at the apex of competition, as he failed to earn the NCAA Division-1 title, Olympic gold, or the UFC light heavyweight championship.
Now this is not to say Cormier is not an outstanding fighter -- because he absolutely is. In fact, he looked very good at points during the fight, but Jones simply proved to be too much.
While you likely won't see Cormier hang up his gloves anytime soon, the loss to his bitter rival Jones will certainly sting for quite some time. But who knows? In the world of MMA, crazier things have happened than "DC" potentially getting a rematch at Jones down the line.
After going 8-1 to kick off his professional MMA career, Rodrigo Damm has since gone 4-8 in his last 12 fights. Damm was shockingly brought into UFC following a less than stellar Strikeforce career that saw him go 0-2. In fact, had it not been for The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): Brazil, Damm likely would have never gotten a chance inside the Octagon.
Unfortunately for the Brazilian, he has gone 3-4 in UFC, losing his last three including a beatdown at the hands of Evan Dunham last evening in Las Vegas.
Simply put, Damm had absolutely nothing to offer Dunham on the feet, and was nothing more than a punching bag for 15 minutes of not-so-exciting action. The facts are that Damm is simply not UFC caliber at this point in his career, and at age 34, it may be time for him to hang it up.
That's a wrap!
For complete UFC 182: "Jones vs Cormier" results and coverage of all the night's action click here