Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light heavyweights Daniel Cormier and Alexander Gustafsson clashed last night (Oct. 3, 2015) at UFC 192 inside Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.
Cormier only earned his strap a few short months ago, and his position as champion was far from solidified. Above all else, Cormier was fighting to be recognized as the true champion, and a big victory over "The Mauler" would certainly help.
Coming off a truly devastating loss earlier in the year, Gustafsson had plenty of motivation to win here. This was another chance for Gustafsson to achieve his dream of Octagon gold and an opportunity for him to return to the win column at the same time.
As expected, Cormier looked to pressure his opponent. Not wasting much time, Cormier got in on his opponent's hips and landed a powerful slam takedown, though Gustasfsson was able to work back to his guard.
With just over a minute remaining, Gustafsson managed to scramble back to his feet. Once there, Gustafsson immediately began throwing a high volume of strikes, landing a decent amount of kicks and punches.
Still, it wasn't enough to overcome Cormier's few minutes of control.
Gustafsson started the second round very strong. He first peppered Cormier with some nasty punches and really began to make the former Olympian uncomfortable. In addition to stuffing a few of his opponent's takedowns, Gustafsson even landed a brief takedown of his own.
Despite having his face ripped open, Cormier landed some hard punches of his own. In particular, Cormier scored with his usual nasty uppercuts from the clinch, which did some damage. Before Cormier could really build up his momentum, Gustafsson scored another brief takedown and finished the round in control.
After two rounds, it was likely all tied up.
Cormier, undeterred by the damage he had taken, continued to stalk his opponent. He landed some nice right hands in the process, but he also absorbed some nasty body shots and jabs from the lanky Swede.
The last minute of the third round was absolutely wild. First, Cormier ripped into his opponent with more uppercuts, slicing open his face and bloodying his nose. However, Gustafsson turned it around with 30 seconds left, cracking Cormier with a knee and follow up punches that sent him slumping to the mat.
Overall, it was an extremely close round that could be argued for either man.
Gustafsson opened up with some nice jabs and kicks, but Cormier simply did not stop moving forward. Whenever "DC" really let loose with his strikes, he landed them in the form of a hard combination.
Both faces wore serious damage by the fourth round. Overall, it was another toss up, as Gustafsson landed the sharper strikes, but Cormier kept up the pressure.
The fifth was more of the same, though both men were very tired. A lot of the final round took place in the clinch, as the two warriors leaned on another and traded uppercuts until the final round.
After 25 minutes of combat, there was no clear winner. In the end, two of the three judges awarded the decision to Cormier, whose forward pressure and clinch work likely won him the bout.
Heading into the fight, I wrote that this fight would likely be decided in the clinch. That turned out to be fairly true, as Gustafsson managed to defend the vast majority of his opponent's takedowns, but Cormier still managed to force the fight into the clinch.
In that position, volume is king. Both fighters landed devastating shots, but Cormier's constant pressure and high output was enough to earn the close decision. Cormier's title "King of the Grind" is not undeserved, as he really did put himself and Gustafsson through hell, only to outwork the Swedish boxer.
Hopefully, Cormier can square off with Jon Jones in his next bout. If "Bones" is still far off from returning, then a bout with Ryan Bader would certainly make sense.
This has to be another tough pill for Gustafsson to swallow. For the second time, he came quite close to becoming a UFC champion. However, he simply didn't do enough across five rounds to guarantee himself the victory.
In addition, Gustafsson made a poor impression of himself by constantly turning his back to Cormier while circling back to the middle. It didn't get him in much trouble in terms of punches and kicks, but it could easily have cost him rounds.
Despite proving himself to be a championship caliber fighter, Gustafsson has lost two fights in a row. After this disappointing defeat, "The Mauler" needs a slight step back in competition, if only to build his confidence back up. For example, a bout with Rafael Cavalcante would make sense.
Last night, Daniel Cormier defeated his opponent via split decision in an excellent scrap. How long can Daniel Cormier hold onto his title?
For complete UFC 192 "Cormier vs Gustafsson" results and play-by-play, click HERE!