Things heat up in the desert later tonight (Sat., May 23, 2015) when Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) No. 1 Light Heavyweight contender Anthony Johnson takes on former Strikeforce Heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier for the vacant 205-pound strap in the main event of UFC 187.
Before we can get to the evening's main course, destructive middleweights go to battle when Chris Weidman defends his belt against brazen challenger Vitor Belfort. While the buildup to tonight's headliner has been short and for the most part respectful, the duo in the co-main event have been anything but cordial.
Moving on down the fight card which will be broadcast on pay-per-view (PPV) at 10 pm ET this evening, Lightweight contender Donald Cerrone clashes with knockout artist John Makdessi. Prior to that bout, bruising Heavyweights slug it out in the center of the Octagon when Travis Browne aims to keep pace with the elite of the division when he tangles with former UFC champion Andrei Arlovski.
However, we would be remiss if we neglected to mention a plethora of tantalizing bouts featured on tonight's UFC Fight Pass and FOX Sports 1-televised "Prelims" undercard, highlighted by a flyweight tussle between former No. 1 contender John Dodson and trending up-and-comer Zach Makovsky.
The electrifying talents went to war for the 15 minutes in what was a hotly contested battle. After three rounds of back-and-forth mixed martial arts (MMA) action, which saw Dodson absorb his fair share of shots, "The Magician" was awarded with the split-decision win.
If you were unable to find yourself a TV and catch tonight's appetizers have no fear, MMAmania has got you covered. Read on to find out who won, and how, in the seven preliminary card matchups at UFC 187.
The returning former flyweight No. 1 contender Dodson welcomed the former Bellator 135-pound champion Makovsky to the UFC elite.
Dodson attacks Makovsky's leg with a sharp kick. The 30-year-old counters Makovsky with a left hand. "Fun Size" lands a solid knee in the clinch during a quick scramble. He lands a good striahgt left, which illcits a smirk from dodson. akvosky showing good defense so far. His first takedown attempt is unsuccessful. Dodson charges in and lands a nice right hand to the body. We're just past the midway point of round 1 and Makovsky is still struggling to shoot for a takedown. The 32-year-old Makovsky scores with a right hand, who eats a left hand from Dodson in return. Makovsky pumps the left hand down the middle and it finds the mark. Dodson lands a good leg kick. As Dodson goes with the low left, Makovsky is countering soundly. "The Magician" lands a nice left hand over the top. Both fighters clinch up momentarily as round 1 comes to a close.
"Fun Size" connects early with a left hand by Makovsky. Dodson retaliates on an aggressive Makovsky with a solid body kick. A right jab-left hand combination lands for Makovsky. He lands a solid knee in the clinch, followed by a hard right hand. The Tristar Gym-trained fighter is faking low, which is allowing him to have success with the straight left hand. Dodson rips one to the body of Makovsky. Good inside leg kick by Makovsky. Dodson makes him pay on a takedown attempt with a knee. Dodson misses on a huge overhand right and eats a left high kick later. The Jackson-Winkeljohn fighter is put on his back briefly after throwing a leg kick, but responds with a huge slam moments later. Dodson is working i nside control. Both fighters are back to their feet quickly as the round 2 bell sounds.
Doson pumps the jab and looks for the straight left to being the final frame. Makovsky connects with a left hand a minute into the round. He lands a left body kick. Dodson continuing to do a good job of stuffing the takedown attempts from the NCAA Division I wrestler. Makovsky pushes forward with his left hand and is in the clinch now. Dodson separates himself from the cage. Makovsky lands another good straight left. Both fighters fainting and changing levels well. Dodson tagged Makovsky with a good uppercut. "The Magician" catches a body kick and uses it to throw Makovsky against the cage. The pair are back to striking in the center of the Octagon. Makovsky lands a couple of left hands as the final bell sounds. Dodson claims the victory via split decision, giving him his third win in a row. Makovsky loses a decision for the second time in three outings.
Josh Burkman vs. Dong Hyun Kim
Two welterweights on the verge of entering the 170-pound hierarchy squared off inside the Octagon when the longtime mixed martial arts (MMA) veteran Burkman met the explosive South Korean Kim.
Burkman goes low with a kick early as the southpaw "Stun Gun" pushes forward. The 34-year-old Burkman attempts a head kick. Kim lands a good body kick as Burkman backs him up. The Pit Fight Team member instigates the clinch. Kim targets the trip, but the fence saves Burkman. Burkman is trying to pry Kim's hands off of him. "The People's Champion" is defending the trips/takedowns nicely. He is now on the offensive in the clinch. Kim takes Burkman's back. We have two minutes to go in round 1 as the 33-year-old Kim hammers away at Burkman's face from the back. "Stun Gun" is close to locking up the rear-naked choke. Kim loosens up his control of Burkman and disengages the choke. He's still riding the back, though and that's where Kim ends round 1.
Kim launches a front kick down the middle to kick off round 2 He slips on a left high kick, allowing Burkman to land the left and a few more good strikes. He is in the face of the Judo black belt Kim. An elbow hurt Kim and now Burkman is looking for the takedown against the cage. The South Korean striking specialist sprawls out and is now in control of the fight's pace. Kim is landing good shoots to the face of Burkman, while the latter is pinned against the fence. He lands a nice elbow midway through round 2. Kim has an arm trapped and is continuously pounding on his face. The fighter's break with 10 seconds left and Kim attempts a head kick, before round 2 comes to a close.
Burkmans comes out in round 3 and lands a body kick and an uppercut, which stuns Kim. A flurry by Burkman has Kim backing up, nearly finishing the fight in the process. Kim drags Burkman to the mat, and after being briefly caught in a guillotine choke, slides into side control. He is looking for the arm triangle choke. Kim steps over into full guard, applies more pressure and gets Burkman to tap for the third-round submission victory.
Hall and Natal engaged in a tussle that would usher the winner towards a breakthrough in the Top 15 of the UFC middleweight rankings.
Natal starts round 1 off with an errant low kick. Hall switching stances. Natal snapping off hard leg kicks. The 30-year-old Karate fighter catches a kick and counters with a right hand. Natal moves forward and lands a right hand on Hall, who drops his hands. "Sapo" goes to the body and throw and overhand left. "Primetime" lands a front kick. A left kick to the leg and body connects for the Tiger Schulman's-trained Hall. He lands a good jab shortly after. The 32-year-old Natal shoots in for his first takedown attempt, but misses. Hall counters Natal's low kick with a beautiful head kick. He lands a huge spinning back kick to the body and then attempts a spinning back fist. The Brazilian lands a solid body kick. The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) season 17 runner-up snaps a jab through the defense of Natal. "Sapo" charges forward for a big shot on a takedown, but it is defended well by Hall as the round 1 bell sounds.
Hall goes with with a couple of kicks to start round 2. He connects on another jab. Natal finds the mark with an outside leg kick. He switches stances and lands another leg kick. Natal shoots for a takedown and gets it. He's in half guard. Hall works back to full guard. "Primetime" is striking well from the bottom with elbows. Natal staying nice and low, shoving his head into the chin of Hall. He steps over into Hall's half guard. Hall trying to wall walk and get back to his feet. "Sapo" drags him back to the ground with just over two minutes left in round 2. Natal has double underhooks, but Hall escapes and we're back to striking. Hall lands a nice knee to the body. Natal continuously circling to the left, away from Hall's trademark jab. Hall initiates the clinch after Natal misses wildly. Hall lands a huge slam on Natal, but he gets back to his feet quickly. He slams him again to end round 2.
Hall uncorking the jab to the head and body quite a bit to begin round 3. He lands a nice inside leg kick. Hall finds the mark with a knee to the body of Natal, who returns with a right hand. Hall lands a high kick as Natal shoots in. Hall connects with an outside leg kick. Hall switching between stances throwing a bevvy of kicks. "Sapo" is looking to close the distance. He pushes forward with right haymakers and connects with one. Natal gets Hall against the cage and is looking for the single leg takedown. The referee separates the pair after a period of stagnation. Hall lands a spinning back fist. Natal pressures and tags Hall with a left hand. Hall goes high with a kick and the fight is over. Natal is your winner via split decision. Hall sees his three-fight win streak snapped, while "Sapo" records his third-straight victory.
The 39-year-old UFC journeyman Pyle tangled with undefeated American Top Team grappler Colby Covington.
Covington loops a left hand over the top to start round 1. The 27-year-old wrestler shoots in hard and has "Quicksand" up against the cage. Pyle is doing a solid job of defending. Covington looking for a throw. An accidental groin shot by the ATT fighter causes a brief break in the action. Covington goes high with a kick, but it's blocked. He goes for another takedown, with Pyle defending nicely. The 39-year-old is not letting him get double underhooks. Pyle looks for a kimura briefly. Covington drags him to the mat shortly after and is in full guard. Pyle doing a great job of not letting "Chaos" posture up. He's looking to land elbows from the bottom. Pyle is working towards a triangle choke momentarily, but abandons it. Covington works the body for the last 15 seconds of round 1.
Covington shoots in on Pyle immediately to start round 2 and grounds him momentarily, but Pyle gets back to his feet in a hurry. The Xtreme Couture representative defends the takedown and lands a knee on the break. Covington connects on an overhand right and fights his way into the clinch. Both fighters are clinched against the cage. The NCAA All-American wrestler Covington finds his second takedown of the fight and is in half guard. Pyle looked for the armbar quicky, but Covington defends well. He lands a big elbow as we pass the midway point of the bout. Covington is landing excellent short elbows. Referee Herb Dean stands the duo up with 50 seconds left in the round. Pyle lands a job and throws a front kick down the middle. He lands a knee on an aggressive Covington to end round 2.
Pyle begins round 3 with a solid leg kick and then a flying knee to the body. He looked to secure a choke, but is thrown aside by the collegiate wrestling standout. Covington is now working in full guard. He is back to doing what he does best -- landing ground and pound. Covington mixing up his shots. The elbows are beginning to take a toll on the face of the veteran Pyle. Pyle is looking to secure the double-wrist lock on the right arm of Covington and then flips him over and is in full mount. Covington gives up his back with a minute left and nearly taps to a rear-naked choke by Pyle, who then loses it in a scramble. Covington ends the final frame in a dominant spot and captures the unanimous-decision win. He moves to 3-0 in the UFC. Pyle drops his second-straight fight.
A pair of fast-rising lightweights went to war when the American Top Team representative Kuntz collided with the dangerous Dagestani fighter Makhachev.
Makhachev counters Kuntz with an overhand right. The 31-year-old Kuntz catches the Russian fighter with a right hand. A left jab-right hook combination lands for Makhachev. He initiates the clinch and connects with a good knee. "The Lion" is able to defend against the takedown well and they separate. The 23-year-old Makhachev lands a left hook and secures a takedown. He takes Kuntz's back and is aiming to lock in a choke. We're halfway through round 1 and Kuntz escapes through the back door and returns with a flurry. Makhachev goes to the body with a left hand. He lands a good counter right hand and a left elbow on an aggressive Kuntz. Kuntz is looking to slow down Makhachev with front and high kicks occasionally. Makhachev lands a good uppercut and instigates the clinch. He lands his second takedown of the fight shortly after and is working in side control. Makhachev ends round 1 on the back of Kuntz.
Kuntz throwing out some feelers to begin round 2. Makhachev lands a left hand and an uppercut in the clinch. Kuntz walks into a left hook from the part-time American Kickboxing Academy fighter, who pounces on a wincing Kuntz and has his back. The Sambo machine secures the body triangle and eventually the fight-ending rear-naked choke.
Justin Scoggins vs. Josh Sampo
"Tank" attempted to drive right through the grappler Sampo in a meeting of burgeoning 125-pound contenders.
Scoggins goes high with a kick to start things off in round 1. Sampo returns with a leg kick. The 23-year-old Scoggins is working his kicks and switching stances. A jab sneaks through for the Karate fighter. Sampo closes the distance with a huge flurry, but Scoggins snags a single leg. He is unable to do anything with it. Scoggins teeing off with more leg kicks. "The Gremlin" scores points with a body-head combination. "Tank" utilizing the front side body kick. Sampo shoots hard for a takedown, but Scoggins denies him with a good sprawl. He lands a solid right jab to the face of Sampo, who returns with a sneaky uppercut. A nice body kick and left hand-combo lands for Scoggins. The 30-year-old Sampo is having difficulty closing the distance on the American Top Team fighter as round 1 draws to a close.
Scoggins starts round 2 with another side kick to the body. He lands a hook kick to the body. As Sampo clinches, Scoggins makes him pay with knees. The Missouri native Sampo finds the mark with a good body kick. Scoggins connects with another high hook kick. Sampo is countered with a left-right hand combo by the former kickboxing champion Scoggins. Sampo secures a clinch and double underhooks, landing a couple of solid knees. Scoggins lands a huge front kick to the face and then eats a right hand from Sampo. We're halfway through the fight and Sampo finds double underhooks again in the clinch. He momentarily takes the Florida-based Scoggins down, but the latter is quickly back to his feet. Sampo lands a thumping body kick and then eats one. Sampo is starting to score with body kicks and then a right hand. He downs Scoggins briefly with a hard leg kick. Sampo ends what is a solid round for him with a nice superman punch.
Sampo turns it on to begin the final round, pushing forward with a flurry. Scoggins scores with a big right-left hand combo. He continues working the right jab-left cross combo. Scoggins working the body and hits another kick on Sampo. Sampo attempts the head kick and superman punch, but doesn't connect. He's looking for the right hook when he charges in. Sampo changes levels and hits the takedown. He's in Scoggins' full guard. Sampo posturing up and landing heavy shots. He lands a solid elbow. Scoggins working to get back to his feet and does. One minute left in the fight and both men are visibly gassed. Sampo steps in with an elbow and connects. Scoggins records a pivotal takedown late in round 3 to take the unanimous-decision victory.
With a thrilling set of "Prelims" now in the books, fight fans can now turn their attention to an extraordinary UFC 187 main card, featuring the PPV headliner of Anthony Johnson vs. Daniel Cormier for the light heavyweight title.
Enjoy the rest of tonight's MMA action, Maniacs!