This Saturday night was one of thrills at Madison Square Garden with the hosting of UFC 230. Chief among the attractions was a historic belt defense.
Daniel Cormier, the sitting light heavyweight and heavyweight champion, went in to defend his under-120kg title against the giant Derrick Lewis in a five-round bout. Boasting 14 heavyweight wins in his career, Cormier let his grappling skills loose and dominated Lewis throughout.
Sharp takedowns and control on the ground dictated the pace in round one, and, following an easy five minutes, the champion came back to decide: After a new takedown grabbing the foot, Cormier made a good transition to the back and finished with a hand-to-hand choke.
The co-main event found Ronaldo Jacaré facing Chris Weidman with a tough mission on his hands. Coming off a loss to Kelvin Gastelum, the legendary BJJ champion replaced an injured Luke Rockhold, and a win could put him back in line for a title bout. The potential problem was that his opponent was known as the Brazilian slayer, having defeated a true who’s who of Brazilian MMA — Demian Maia, Vitor Belfort, Lyoto Machida and Anderson Silva (twice).
It was a tense encounter, with Weidman doing better for the first two rounds with precise striking. Jacaré’s power was there, but the American was winning through sheer volume of hits. That was when, in round three, Jacaré cranked up the heat further, hunting Weidman tirelessly, and managed at last to connect an anvil of a right hand to Weidman’s temple. The American fell, unresponsive. Referee Dan Miragliotta hesitated to end the match, but Jacaré had already stopped hitting. Seeing there was still technically a fight to win, Jaca hit Weidman twice more before being declared the winner. An important win for Jacaré, who can now dream of the title again, at 38.