Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returned to Houston, Texas for a pay-per-view (PPV) extravaganza, as the Toyota Center played host to UFC 192: "Cormier vs. Gustafsson," last night (Sat., October 3, 2015), featuring the Light Heavyweight title tilt pitting Daniel Cormier against Alexander Gustafsson.
In a thrilling main event, Cormier defended his UFC Light Heavyweight championship for the first time by defeating a game Gustafsson via split decision (highlights here). The win pushed "DC's" UFC record to an impressive 6-1.
In a sloppy and sluggish co-main event, Ryan Bader controlled and picked apart returning former 205-pound champion Rashad Evans en route to a unanimous decision victory. With his fifth consecutive decision victory, "Darth" could very well be next in line for a crack at UFC gold.
With that quick overview of the night's marquee bouts, here are your biggest winners, as well as the runners-up from Texas.
Biggest Winner: Daniel Cormier
It has long been said a fighter is not truly a champion until he defends his title, and although critics will still insist Daniel Cormier owns nothing more than a paper belt, "DC" earned the right to be deemed champion after an epic battle against Alexander Gustafsson.
After dominating the first round with his wrestling, Cormier ditched his best asset, instead opting to strike with Gus for the remaining 20 minutes of the title fight. The champ put together his career best performance on the feet, utilizing savage uppercuts in the clinch to hurt his opponent.
Gustafsson fought valiantly, and even took the revered wrestler down on two separate occasions, but Cormier's unrelenting pressure and pace helped him earn the split decision victory.
There was no Jon Jones call out this time for "DC" in the post-fight interview, but the current champ should expect to see his rival staring across the Octagon from him in due time. With Jones avoiding jail time in his hit-and-run case, he could very well be fighting for the title next.
If not, Cormier and Ryan Bader will settle their feud with UFC gold on the line.
Runners-up: Jon Jones
Guess who's back.....!
Jon Jones didn't fight at UFC 192, but by avoiding jail time in his hit-and-run case, the former Light Heavyweight champion was looming large throughout fight week and on fight night in Houston.
Jones -- who has already defeated all four competitors in last night's main and co-main events -- was back to his old tricks last evening, posting a short reaction video on Instagram, before quickly deleting the video like he has done so many times before.
In the video, the former champ joked "I think I miss it. I don't know...," referencing his longing to return to his violent stylings inside the Octagon.
Considering Jones is unquestionably the best fighter at 205-pounds, you can bet he was licking his chops watching Gustafsson and Cormier maul each other for 25 minutes.
Now we just have to wait to see if he is next in line for a crack at his former title.
What a debut!
Not since Conor McGregor's knockout over Marcus Brimage has a UFC debut been so electrifying.
Sage Northcutt is a violent man ladies and gents, and at 19-years old, this uber prospect could be a staple in the Lightweight division for years to come.
Northcutt was recently featured on UFC's new program "Looking for a Fight," and after his 57 second knockout victory over Francisco Trevino last night in Texas, we now know why Dana White was so excited for this kid's debut.
While UFC brass will likely take it slow with the youthful Northcutt, expect the Texas native to continue pushing for violent finishes as he climbs his way up the stacked 155-pound division ladder.
Biggest Loser: Johny Hendricks and Tyron Woodley
Two for the price of one!
Johny Hendricks and Tyron Woodley were set to throw down on the UFC 192 co-main event last night, but a failed weight cut and hospital visit for Hendricks forced UFC brass to scratch the bout hours before Friday's weigh-ins.
After four horrendous main card fights on a PPV that cost $60, the loss of a Welterweight No. 1 contender fight hurt fight fans even worse.
For "Bigg Rigg," missing the fight spelled the end of his UFC career at Welterweight -- one that included a UFC title victory -- as White mentioned this weekend Hendricks will be competing in the Middleweight division moving forward.
As for Woodley, the No. 3 ranked Welterweight lost the opportunity to undoubtedly claim the No. 1 contender spot with a big victory. While UFC brass seemed empathetic to "The Chosen One," there is simply no guarantee he will be fighting for the title next after not being able to show off his new tricks.
Overall, this late scratch was a loss for everyone involved.
Runners-up: Alexander Gustafsson
It is hard to tab Alexander Gustafsson a "loser" after another outstanding title fight performance, but once again the Swede failed to attain Light Heavyweight gold.
In his first title fight -- a legendary affair with Jon Jones -- Gus took the former champ to the brink, stunning the MMA world with an exceptional performance in a losing effort.
After getting knocked out by Anthony Johnson this past January, it seemed "The Mauler" would be light years away from another shot at the title, but as luck would have it, UFC brass gifted him the fight against Daniel Cormier in Houston.
Gustafsson technically didn't deserve to fight for the belt coming off a loss -- especially when you consider Ryan Bader had won four straight fights -- but after once again competing in a sensational title fight, it is easy to see why Gus was chosen to fight "DC."
Unfortunately for the Swede, his free shot at gold will likely be his last for quite some time. With Jon Jones' return looming, and losses to Cormier and Johnson still fresh in his mind, Gustafsson needs to put together a handful of victories to get back into the title conversation next year.
After sitting on the sidelines for two years nursing a torn ACL, former UFC Light Heavyweight champion Rashad Evans returned at UFC 192, and laid an egg.
For a guy who promised Ryan Bader an ass-whooping, Evans sure looked sluggish inside the Octagon last night.
Sure ring rust was probably a factor, but let's not forget "Suga" has made a habit of fighting in a defensive shell once he gets picked apart early; both Rogerio Nogueira and Jon Jones shut Evans down previously.
At 36-years old, Evans' best days are undoubtedly behind him, but if the future Hall of Famer wants to duke it out a few more times before hanging up his gloves for good, who am I to disagree?
For complete results from UFC 192: "Cormier vs. Gustafsson," including play-by-play updates, click here.